Valentine’s, Really?

I’d love to say Happy Valentine’s Day, ya’ll. But really. Why? St. Valentine has so little known about him that to put a full day in his name to celebrate love is mind boggling. And yet, here I am thinking about love today. So many types of love. So many people that I love are struggling right now. They have been on my mind so much this past week.

My daughter is finally at her home again and out of the hospital. I love this child more than I can say, and have watched her struggle tremendously in the past couple of weeks.  The love a mother has for her children is overwhelming, even if those children didn’t actually come from her body. The worry when things go wrong, the worry about health issues, it’s the same as it is for the children that I carried for nine plus months. The hackles that rise when someone mistreats them is no different. The need to hold them and comfort them is no different. The joy I feel when they feel joy is no different. The pain I feel when they feel pain is no different. After two long weeks of watching Jenna struggle and suffer has been grueling. But she’s home and being well cared for and that gives me peace.

My dear, dear friend is currently fighting for his life. He’s been battling a disease since the middle of the fall, and not knowing whether he is going to live or die pulls at my heart strings like not a lot of other things can. I am not one who makes friends easily. I have a lot of acquaintances – people that I love to hang out with and visit with and play with – but to really let someone in my life where they know all the dirty little secrets, well, that’s rare. I have less than a handful of those type of friends. The thought of losing one of them wears on my heart like not a lot of things will.

A family member of mine is really struggling. I can’t say anything about this except that my heart hurts for what he’s going through and I wish he knew how much I loved him and much happiness I wish for him.

My father in law is a different sort. Mark and I have had our jokes about him for the past 16 years because of how he is. He’s a product of the 50s. I don’t know if any other explanation is needed. He’s the same age as my own father was. For all the “differentness” about him, I have loved him from the first moment I met him. My husband shares some of his quirks, and although they can sometimes be irritating, they are also a little bit endearing. My father in law begins his battle with lung cancer tomorrow. That’s when his chemo begins. We stopped by to see him yesterday on our way home from the city, and he looked frail already. In the amount of time between symptoms and diagnosis, he has already lost too much weight. I fear for what chemo will do to him. I saw what it did to my dad. When we walked into the apartment, my father in lit up and reached up his arms for a hug. Nothing new there. He’s a huggy (creepily huggy, sometimes) guy. He hugs and kiss/kiss/kiss on your face.We all (and by we I mean all the girls in the family) do the polite hug and pushback as he tries to kiss our faces off. It was different this time.  I knelt on the couch and leaned across him for a hug, but there was no kiss/kiss/kiss. There was just a genuine hug and a hearfelt, “I love you.” I had to choke back tears as I responded, “I love you, too.” Because I do. For all the crap I give him about his politics and his religion and his general views on life, I love him. He will never win any father of the year awards, but he was a part of giving life to this man that I love beyond comprehension.

This after noon Mark and I were sitting in the hot tub with a glass of wine (OK, fine – I had a glass of wine, he drank water) discussing the upcoming year. We thought last year was going to be the worst year ever. Watching my dad die was not easy. It took its toll on the whole family. I told Mark I never dreamed that we would be doing this whole “sick dad” thing again. Mark said, “It’s going to be worse this year.” I must have looked confused. “Because we don’t have your family easing the burden like we had last year.” It’s true. I have the most amazing family in the world. I love them so hard. We just sat there for a moment looking at each other, wondering how his stepmom is going to deal with everything that she has to deal with without having the support system that my mom had when we played the cancer game with Dad last year. As I thought about the differences between our two families, I was beyond grateful to have been born into such an amazing group.

So here we are at Valentine’s Day. A holiday that is the stupidest of all stupid holidays. But it got me thinking about all the people I love. Love for different reasons. Love with different intensities. I guess this year, the holiday wins. I have a lot of people I love, and who love me.

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