Beyond Valentines

If there were such a thing as a scrooge at Valentine’s Day, this year it would be me.  Valentine’s Day has always seemed a little overrated to me.  Why is February 14th the magical day that we’re supposed to show love? And really, do we need another day to tempt me with candy and treats?

This year I was even less enthused than usual.  It had been a busy time and I was feeling pressure, not love.  The gift I ordered for my husband didn’t arrive on time.  And, as someone who prides herself in being prepared, I was feeling even more of a failure because I found myself in the midst of a sea of men in the card aisle on Valentine’s Day.  Somehow, it’s acceptable for men to do last minute shopping, but not for me.  Not at all logical, but the thought plagued my mind nonetheless.

The day did not go at all as planned.  I had to take the kids to the dentist, run errands, try to squeeze in some schoolwork, cook a meal,  and I ended up helping to run a party unexpectedly.  I fell asleep at dinnertime as my husband and kids prepared dinner for me and woke up cold and hungry. I woke up today realizing that I never even gave my husband the card that I had shamefully purchased the day before. I also discovered that I had forgotten that my son needed to make Valentines for his preschool party.  Ugh…  the holiday that keeps on giving.

In the midst of it all, there was one blessing in hurriedness of my day.  As I stopped by a friend’s house to make a delivery, her husband had arrived home from the hospital.  He suffers with ALS, an awful degenerative disease, and is nearing the end of his life.  He is completely present in mind, but his ailing body no longer cooperates.  He can’t even use his communication device any longer because his eyes (which were used to control it) don’t function well enough to work the machine.  And yet, when I came to speak to him, he smiled.  He smiled at me!  I’m not sure how he mustered the strength to make those muscles work, but he did.  And it brightened my day.  It let me know that he’s still who he is.  He’s still the likeable, jovial guy who loves to hug and smile and enjoy life.  I have no idea what he was thinking, but he smiled.  It was the highlight of my day. 

But now I cry.  I cry for him as I try to imagine what it must be like to be trapped in a body and life where you comprehend everything that goes on around you, but can’t interact or communicate. I cry for his wife for having to watch her husband and children suffer, all the while trying to keep life going on as normal.  I cry for their kids.  They’ve seen their dad go from a healthy, active man to a bedridden, dependent existence within a couple of short years.  They can’t make sense of it in their youth – and neither can we.  I cry because I can’t chase away the pain their family endures. And I cry, because despite it all, he smiled.

My plea to you today is to show love every day!  Not just on Valentine’s Day.  We never know what the future holds. 

Love is not about flowers and cards and chocolate.  Love is about caring for other people and showing them that they’re special.  Love is an action, not a feeling.  God showed us His love for us by sending His Son to redeem us and reunite us with Him.  I can’t even fathom it.  He is the source of our love.  And,we can’t truly show love until we’re filled with His. Let’s accept His wonderful gift and share it with others… in abundance! 

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  John 13:34


6 Comments on “Beyond Valentines”

  • Gwen S February 15th, 2011 3:17 pm

    Hi, Cindy! A great reminder of how we should love every day. My MIL had ALS, and seeing her struggle definitely made me change my perspective on my perceived “problems.” Great to see you yesterday! Hope today is a better day.

  • cindy February 15th, 2011 4:31 pm

    Thanks Gwen! And yes, to see others suffering certainly puts our daily inconveniences in perspective… they’re not such a big deal after all. Happy Valentine’s… all year long!

  • Dawn S. February 21st, 2011 9:13 pm

    Cindy, what a beautiful post, although hard to read as well. My mom had ALS and the fact that they are completely fine from a mental standpoint is heartwrenching. It is such a cruel disease, and my heart aches for the Fouts family as they deal with it. Laurie is so incredibly strong, and Rob still his smiling self…..certainly puts our issues into perspective, like you said. Thanks for sharing.

  • Karen February 21st, 2011 10:04 pm

    Funny how I just got around to reading this Blog today. I week late, but at the very moment I needed these words. God is so amazing. Thank you for your dedication in sharing, even on the days where everything didn’t go perfect!!! Praying for Rob and Laurie and all the smiles and love that this world can shower over them!!!!

  • cindy February 22nd, 2011 3:28 pm

    I will forever remember his smile and am so thankful I got to see him that day!

  • cindy February 22nd, 2011 3:33 pm

    Dawn, I don’t think I knew that your mom had ALS. I’m sorry that you had to experience it and know that you can certainly relate to Laurie. My heart breaks for them, but rejoices in knowing that he will have eternal healing and peace. His family should be proud for how he’s fought the good fight and run a good race… still smiling! May God comfort them and strenghen them and may Laurie be surrounded by loving and compassionate friends like yourself.

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