She watched me thoughtfully for a few moments and then asked me to come to her, motioning for me to climb onto her lap. At eleven, I was too long legged to sit in her lap, and it was awkward. We had not cuddled in that way for years. I sat facing away from her and she pulled my resisting head gently back to rest against her shoulder. She encircled me with her arms and we sat in silence for a long while. After what seemed an hour, she spoke softly, her mouth only a few inches from my ear.

“True love is only found in truthfulness,” she said. I did not understand what she meant, but I knew enough to know that she was disappointed that I was hiding something from her.

“When you love someone,” she continued, “you are not afraid to tell the truth. If you are afraid, you do not truly love them. There can be no fear in love and there can be no secrets.”

I thought deeply about what she was saying. I suspected that she knew I was hiding something, but by now I was so ashamed of what I had done that I could do nothing but snivel.

“Shame,” she continued as if she were reading my mind, “is a good thing. It helps us know when we are doing something wrong. But shame can be a bad thing. It can drive a wedge between you and the person who loves you most. When you are ashamed, you are alone. Most people settle for an incomplete love. Most people live their entire lives bearing their shame. They never take the risk to discover love. They never take the risk of truthfulness.”

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