Saturday, February 14, 2009 4:13 PM
“Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel.”
- James Taylor
Today is Valentine’s Day. It’s a day that card, chocolate, and flower shops have been preparing for for weeks. People will be giving gifts, sharing moments, taking significant others out to dinner, opening cards, baking cookies with their kids, etc. etc. Last week I’m sure schools had Valentine parties where kids decorated boxes that others would put Transformer or Barbie themed valentine’s into. And of course, there are those that will say that this whole Valentine’s thing is just a manufactured holiday, a scam to create a need to make store purchases and keep Hallmark in business.
For me Valentine’s Day will mean something more after this year.
I got an email last week from a friend. He was a close high school friend, and one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet. Through our twenties, just with marriage, jobs, kids, our lives drifted in different directions but we still kept in touch with occasional emails, MSN chats, Facebook wall posts, or lunches.
His wife was diagnosed with cancer shortly after they were married. Lymphoma, but it was caught early and the outlook was good. Over the years however she regressed and underwent further bouts with cancer and a bone marrow transplant. During this time, they had four children and my friend progressed in his health care career.
While she was going through her treatments, he would email out to a group of us her health updates: good days, bad days, results of doctor appointments, results of surgeries or treatments. Over the last two years my world was incredibly busy with running my own business, travelling, doing community work, and also my own family. I’d see the emails come in from my friend, but I wouldn’t read all of them…and the ones I did glance through I never replied to. I never stopped to send even a simple “Glad to hear/Sorry to hear, am thinking of you.” note.
So that email last week…on February 11 shortly after midnight, his wife passed away. I don’t think she was even 30 yet. She leaves behind a loyal and loving husband and four children ages 8,6,3, and 1.
I started writing a response to his email and felt a wave of guilt and shame wash over me. How could I have ignored a friend reaching out and sharing the health struggles of his wife? How had I not made time to respond, to call, to visit? How had I simply hid behind the excuses of being busy, being pre-occupied?
Our lives are so busy, with so much going on that too often we ignore or don’t recognize the things that really matter in our lives: the people we care about and their circumstances. We run through life with our iPod’s on high volume, unaware of our surroundings until something forces us to stop, take out the ear-buds, and look around.
Maybe Valentine’s Day is manufactured by companies. Maybe the focus is on the heart covered cards, the roses, the dinner reservations, and other commercial aspects. But if having a made-up holiday means that for one day people take time to focus on those that are closest and who mean the most to them, to let them know how much they love them and how much better their lives are because they’re in it, I think we should be able to look past the commercialism to see the worth this holiday really has.Valentine’s Day is not about romantic relationships, is about *all* relationships.
Valentine’s Day is necessary. It’s a reminder for us, a yearly reminder, of how we should be living every day. Be thankful that, for many out there, this reminder comes in the form of a fun holiday and not a funeral.