Historical and Contemporary Romance Author

The First of These Is Love

Many of you may recognize the title of this post as a direct quote from the New Testament. Specifically, it’s from 1st Corinthians, Chapter 13. The verse is often read at Christian weddings because it includes statements such as “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast” and “Love never ends.” Of course, I don’t think Paul was talking so much about marital love in this passage as he was talking about love more generally, but nonetheless, it’s a beautiful passage and one that has given me some comfort in these last few weeks.

Early after Julian died, I wondered aloud if I’d ever write fiction again. I especially wondered if I’d ever be able to write a story with a “happily ever after” ending. Maybe, after what I’ve been through, romance would simply seem too trivial and simplistic for me to write.

But with a little time and more thought, I’ve realized that romance and love are anything but simplistic or trivial. They are quite simply the most important things we can experience in life. They are the glue that cements us and holds us together in troubled times–or at least, they should be. And I genuinely believe that romance attempts to show us relationships that will hold together in troubled times, that will be strengthened and fortified in the face of tragedy.

I remember a brief Twitter conversation a week or so ago where someone (sorry, I can’t remember who; I’m totally suffering from CRS1 disease these days) asked why so many people dismiss the romance genre as “bad.” I poked my head in to say that I think this prejudice goes all the way back to ancient times, when tragedy (stories that ended badly) was considered a higher art form than comedy (those that ended well/happily). The Greeks certainly believed that tragedy revealed more about the human condition than comedy and valued their poets accordingly.

Well, let me just say this: I am now intimately, irrevocably acquainted with tragedy. I know its landscape and its colors as well as any human being. And what has it revealed to me about the human condition? That love–in all its forms –is the only thing that matters. And more, that the most important choice we make in our lives is the person we choose to marry. Because that person is the one we’ll turn to in times of tragedy. The one who will be our primary source of support and sustenance.

I don’t know how I’d do this without my husband by my side. How would I go to bed each night and cry my tears without him to hold me and cry with me? How could I bear it if we were estranged/separated but lost this child who was part of us and whom we both loved more than our own lives? The fact that we are still together and still deeply love one another after more than 25 years is, quite simply, saving my life.

So, bottom line: Romance isn’t trivial. Love isn’t trivial. Happy endings aren’t simplistic or stupid or nothing more than a fantasy. I’m not saying every romance written (or any of the ones I’ve written) are all high works of art, but there is nothing about the form that is silly or reductive. Romance is, in fact, about the most important aspect of human life. Because after the tragedy comes the healing, and the healing can’t come without love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

And I believe with all my heart that this is true.
1Can’t Remember Shit


  • Love in the Margins April 17, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    […] The First of These Is Love – Jackie Barbosa, whose son Julian was killed lat month, talks about tragedy and grief and why love is what’s keeping her together. […]

  • Laura Crawford April 17, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    You are so right, Jackie. I have the love of a good man, and I love him with my whole heart, and together we have been to hell and back. I could not have survived without him. He lost a son, many years ago, and next weekend, he has a son that will be walking down the aisle with his true love. Out of all that loss and grief, he is grateful he has Andy and they talk everyday. I pray for you and your family. Keep writing. That’s the other thing that kept me from losing my mind so many times. If you need to talk, I’m here. Laura 🙂

  • Selene Grace Silver May 24, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    First, my condolences for your loss. Second, thank you for writing this lovely and moving post. I turned to writing romance after my mother died unexpectedly of a sudden heart attack, and though it’s been several years, I still struggle with the loss.

    Without my husband’s love and support, the healing process would be far more difficult. You’re right, love stories and happily-ever-afters are not ‘mere’ fantasy. Especially in the face of tragedy, love is the only thing worthy of our full attention.


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