The Power of Love

Happy Josh Marc Swift

Happy Josh
Marc Swift

“The power of love is a curious thing.

Makes one man weep and another man sing.

Change a hawk into a little white dove, more than a feeling,

That’s the power of love…

You don’t need money, don’t need fame,

You don’t need no credit card to ride this train…

With a little help from above, you’ll feel the power of love…

You won’t feel nothing until you feel the power of love,

Can you feel it?”

Huey Lewis and The News,  “The Power of Love”

Excerpt from “The Coolness of Josh,” the book I wrote to honor my son Josh.  The power of a father’s love.

Josh was so happy. The two of us were living happily without anyone meddling. This meant a lot to him, a world of healing.

Josh was also my friend. And to him, that was almost like heaven. Josh had not had a place where he could feel at home. He had been welcomed back to home. It was really home to him for the first time in his life. He felt so loved and accepted. For him, it was like a balm of Joy, right on his heart.

One night, as I was writing this story at 2 am, Josh became very present to me. He just started talking:

“You know, Dad, you gave me back all the things I had been robbed of. Well, I felt love and acceptance. You encouraged me to be me, and to live life to the full. After all that pain from Mom, I found new joy with you. I could laugh again and feel loved. I really could say: ‘To life! L’chaim!’

“You talked to me and brought me into your own world, where I could feel things and see things from a fresh way of looking at life. You weren’t angry with me, but confident of my love for you—and your love for me. It was terrible what happened, and you were sorry and you were doing something to fix it. Not out of guilt or regret, but from who you had become now. Dad, you just came at the lowest time and turned my whole world around—from hating myself, and in a way hating you too, to trusting you because you were real.

“Dad, you pushed out my blues, shoved out my fear, kicked out my hate—by just being yourself with me, hating evil and loving good, being real and passionate, and above all, not preachy and not condescending to me. You just redefined everything, as what mattered the most now, was us! ‘Us’ was the place where you wanted to be!”

I always felt that I was the one who benefitted the most—because Josh redefined everything in my life, by making “us” the place where he wanted to be. To me, that was such an honor, because I thought he was the coolest guy.



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Taking off

Taking off (Photo credit: Theophilos)


When I was in the ‘still–dominated–by–the–abuse–Land’ or in ‘mental illness–Land’, the thing I missed the most was that place of acceptance where I could relax. That place of welcoming.  Of enjoyment. Of delight. The happy feast. I grew up with this image of a long table with a happy family eating in France with the windows open to a beautiful garden, or outdoors surrounded by the beauty of the countryside and the warm friendship and the laughter.

When you want that, and you can’t have that and you’ve known it somehow, or it has been taken away from you, it’s very hard to live without it…The proximity, the acceptance. When you’re hurting and there’s that need in your heart for love (love is what were going to call this), then even smaller versions of that connection are welcome, very appreciated and can put us in touch with that deep down acceptance. Then, we get that hope, that it’s still possible.

For months I did not feel that with my son Josh. But he wasn’t living in my house, so that made it harder, and when he came over, he would often have already had a few drinks. The pain was so overwhelming to him he needed to numb it, or go beyond it, sort of put it on the back burner and just have fun being crazy all the while yearning for love.

Most often though, with me, he was pretty serious. He talked, ranted, joked, shared anger, sadness, frustration, and I listened to him. We had both shared the same pain with the same woman – his mother, my ex-wife – for way more years than was ‘emotionally advisable’. So he knew we had the same pain, and that we were both working through that, and somehow he felt very accepted by me, all the while still feeling pretty messed up.












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