Last Valentine’s Day was one of the worst of my life.
Not just one of the worst Valentine’s Days, but one of my worst days, period. On Valentine’s Day 2015, I gathered with my husband and his family around my Mother in Law as we prepared to say good bye. She had been quite ill for some time and a decision had been made to turn off the machine that was doing all of her breathing for her.
I found myself waking up, on a day we are to celebrate love, and trying to prepare myself to lose someone I loved very much. Of course, there is no way to prepare oneself for that, so basically I just stood in the shower and cried.
I met everyone at the hospital. We hugged each other, cried together and began to say good bye. I have very little experience in situations like this. My sister – she is an angel for people during these times. She is strong and amazing and I honestly wished she was there with me. I didn’t know what to do – certainly there was nothing I actually COULD do to make it better.
So I prayed.
And I held my mother in law’s hand, placed my hand on her leg, just touched her in any way that was available as she slipped away. It was as peaceful as we could make it. And after a short period of time she was gone. Her earthly body was still there with us, but she had been healed in heaven and was in paradise with our Lord.
And that was my “holiday” intended to be all about love.
And friends – it really was.
Love showed up in so many ways that day. Not with roses, candlelight and chocolate – but with family, friends and God.
My friends and family – so many expressions of heartfelt sympathy. My day was full of phone calls, texts and private messages.
My parents – they were visiting for the weekend and prayed with me before I left to say goodbye. They supported me physically and emotionally. They took care of my children and protected them from the heartache my husband and I were dealing with – until we were ready to tell them what had happened. They looked around my house, found ways to clean and organize, ways to just give me relief in any way they could.
My family members in the hospital room – praying, hugging, crying. So many “I love you’s” said. Such intense bonding in such a very private, painful time.
As a wife – this was not a “romantic love” moment. No gifts or overnight getaways. But there was love, and an intense knowledge that we were in this together. I was there for my husband in whatever way he needed. I asked what I could do and I meant every word – please let me do whatever I can to make this even the tiniest bit better.
As parents we showed our love to our girls by telling them on the 15th instead of the 14th. It was our prayer that this mutual decision would allow them to have many more Valentine’s Days with boyfriends, husbands and someday their own children – without it being changed, somehow, in the way that painful memories sometimes can.
God – holding us all as we cried. Taking my mother in law quickly and quietly, surrounded by people who loved her deeply. We felt Him and we knew the moment she was no longer with us, but instead with Him. And it was incredibly painful and extraordinarily beautiful at the same time.
Friends, there was so much love on that Valentine’s Day.
And, I know, that for many of you Valentine’s Day is not something you are looking forward to it.
You don’t have a perfect romance in your life.
You basically hate the day, the commercials and all the stores right about now.
You feel you simply cannot face another jewelry commercial with two people staring at each other, and their diamonds, with love and longing.
You really feel this holiday holds nothing for you.
But my hope is that, by telling my Valentine’s Day story, we can perhaps work a bit harder on our definition of this holiday, and what it means to celebrate love.
I urge you to FIND THE LOVE this Valentine’s Day. It is there. I promise.
There are children who love you, or friends, or neighbors. There are people who make you feel loved and there are people that YOU ARE IN CHARGE OF LOVING.
Don’t take that lightly.
Don’t become bitter or angry because you can’t have the traditional, Hallmark, Lifetime movie, kinda Valentine’s Day.
You don’t need that to celebrate.
This day is yours to make of it what you want. Count your blessings, bless others and be aware of what you DO have.
If you spend your day, doing that – it really will be a Happy Valentine’s Day.