Once upon a time in a park.

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Photo by Jamez Picard on Unsplash

My son, Sam, plays guitar. He plays it rather well, and he doesn’t have stage fright, so it’s lovely to watch him perform.

About two years ago, in the summer, Sam was playing with the School of Rock — a franchise of music schools that sprung up all over the U.S. after the movie came out. He, and the rest of the “House Band” — the school’s top musicians — were performing outdoors, in a park that was located by the Aurora Municipal Building, on a beautiful July day. My husband, Jeff, and I were sitting on the lawn in our folding camp chairs we always have in our cars. We were both appreciating the weather and the music. There was a small crowd of people dancing, swaying to the beat, and milling about, parents and friends of the players, and families on the blankets with food and drink, enjoying the free concert. Children were running around, chasing each other or trying to touch the butterflies on the bushes. Looking around I noticed a small tow-headed boy, about three years old, as he was meandering around. He, in turn, saw another toddler about his same size, a girl with long blond hair, wearing a yellow dress. He came over to her and stood right behind her. She turned around and saw him, just gazing at him for a moment while he gazed back. Then, she raised her hands and gently cupped his face and lightly caressed it. Just once.

The boy’s already large blue eyes grew twice as large, and he opened his mouth slightly.

Time stopped.

I have never believed in love at first sight. But what I witnessed was, without a doubt, the instantaneous chemical reaction known as “love.”

After that gaze and that brief touch, she turned around again, and started walking away, back toward her family on a blanket. The boy followed as if tied to the girl by an invisible string, following her nearly back to the girl’s family. His mom came and got him, picking him up. As his mom scooped him up, he continued staring toward the girl, reaching out his chubby arms towards the object of his affection, and wailed, kicking his jean-clad legs. It’s a good thing his mother had him around his tummy, because he was doing everything in his power to squirm away, to stay with the little girl. Who, at the same time, was not overly concerned with her conquest, but continued walking toward her family.

I didn’t realize I was holding my breath the whole time, until it whooshed out of me. In the span of less than a minute, I had observed first love and first heartbreak, all this in its purest form from two complete innocents. For me, it was a breathtaking true love story — a love spanning eons, decades, and generations. And I was privileged to witness it that sunny day in the summer.

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