A Valentine for the Ones You Miss
It’s Valentines week – hearts and flowers, chocolate and sexy underwear etc. (not for me this year as mine shrunk in the wash!- wink)Actually I get a kick out of the name my husband likes to call this time of year-the Superbowl of Romance. And yes I do love any holiday that reminds me about love, to give love, and to celebrate love.
When I was a kid my favorite thing in school was making those construction paper Valentines cards for all my little friends in class with my hands all sticky and tongue bright red from eating copious amounts of those red cinnamon heart candies.
And, even the kid that bullied me about my “non Canadian salami sandwich” and who smelled like peanut butter and jam and mothballs that I wasn’t too keen on seemed so much nicer in my head when I made a little heart card for her too.
Funny how that works.
So, I have lots of great memories of Valentines. That would have been a very fun blog if I kept going about those.
I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer. Truth is this weekend I wasn’t running around getting Valentines cards and gifts, and thinking about that at all. I was thinking about something most of us don’t want to talk about around now- the losses, the heartbreak, the loneliness and the longing for those we miss.
I was on a train coming back from the city this weekend and it hit me so hard that over recent years 4 of my dogs died the week of Valentines holiday, and both my parents died in February too- my mom on the 17th and my dad on the 2nd. (Not technically around now, but close enough!)
I considered what was the source of the pain outside of the actual missing of the “person”?
Of course losing your parents carries a huge existential load that does take a long time to process. They are your primary and original source of love, nourishment and safety but also of expectation, and all their shadowy implications- entitlement, disappointment, resentment and intolerance.
I lost them both 26 years ago and its taken me a long time to honor their gifts and love and respect them with all my healthy heart and not the smaller stunted wounded version I’ve since healed. I know I love them, they did their best etc.
I miss my mom’s laughter and the mice and guinea pigs, and our rescued raccoon named Petunia she carried around in her apron pockets so they would stay warm.
I miss my Dad’s larger than life presence that commanded such respect and how incredibly kind he was to waiters and janitors and anyone who served him in any capacity. He treated everyone as if they mattered.
In the case of my dogs, it’s so much simpler and weirdly more painful to contemplate.
Their presence in my life showed me such unconditional love, purity of intent, acceptance and honesty. Other than through my husband Marc I learned more about love and commitment from those furry creatures than any other human could ever have shown me.
And they stay for such a short time. It’s true I chose to adopt sick dogs that came with a quick expiry date. They really taught me about love and loss.
It brought me to remember how all those painful losses – human and animal broke my heart wide open and how that searing pain actually enabled me to have more love to give, more compassion to share, and made more room in my heart for Spirit. My devotion to love comes from that deeper emptiness that only heart wrenching experience can reveal.
The dance steps of this experience are simple-From loss to longing to surrender to appreciation then to celebration yet sometimes the “missing” returns at anniversaries and holidays like this one to remind us to love deeply now and to share it with our full presence because of what broke us open to begin with.
Honoring what we’ve lost reminds us what we have.
So today, I wonder how many of you, when prompted to think about celebrating love this week consider those you miss, and give space for the ache. I hope you’ll share your story in the comments.
I’m with you. Sending you hearts, flowers and hugs.