Today is Saint Valentine’s Day, a day historically known for the recognition of Christian martyrs by the name “Valentine” but which has since become an iconic day of love and romance, colored with roses, chocolates and champagne. It’s a day that young couples wait for, married couples pray not forget, and single people altogether curse. But Valentine’s Day is something a little different for me. It’s a reminder – of love, yes – but not a romantic or Hallmark love. It is a reminder that I am surrounded by love, real love, all of the other 364 days of the year, just as I am today.
One year ago today, I was in the midst of heartache and heartbreak. I had just told my aunt and uncle a week or so before that I was unexpectedly singled at the tail end of January (it had taken me that long to muster up the strength to even talk about it). Don’t get too caught up with that part of the story though; my Valentine’s Day story isn’t about heartache, that’s just a precursor to one of the best Valentine’s Day presents I’ve ever received:
Plainly put, my aunt and uncle, they spent the day with me. They found a way to wrap me up entirely in their Valentine’s Day plans. They did so in such a way that leads me to believe they felt no burden nor obligation to cheer me. They did not regret sharing their day with me. They just loved in an inclusive, welcoming way. We took every step with one another. My aunt and uncle took me cross-country skiing, waiting patiently as I learned and lagged. They took me to the market to pick out lobster with them. We shared our feast for three amidst glasses of red wine and popping butter for dipping, and laughter and love. And I was a part.
Do you know what it feels like to completely share in a couple’s day? I have a few friends and family who are so giving of their time that they have allowed me to share completely with them in their plans. When you are with a couple like that, you are not singled and they are not coupled. You are not a guest and they are no longer hosts. When you find a couple that opens up their lives so that you may share yours with them and theirs with you, you cannot help but linger in the delight of their effortlessness. Though I have experienced it more than this once, I believe it is very rare.
Valentine’s Day is that reminder to me of love, real love – the kind of love that opens doors and invites you into a family, a sense of belonging when you feared that you did not belong.
I think that I will always love Valentine’s Day for that reason.
I am also happy to note that this year I do have a Valentine. Though I’ve come to the conclusion that I do not need one to celebrate the day, I am glad to have this one (and this one in particular). It is true that sometimes what we believe are curses are truly blessings working their way through. I am blessed through him. It is not merely a vase of roses and chocolates placed proudly in my kitchen while I am away at work on this love-inspired holiday, it is much, much more. It is in the other 364 days that he shares with me. I have a Valentine that takes me to church on Sundays, that encourages me when pride threatens to fold me, that lets me cry when emotions are rampant, that laughs with me and sings with me, and both demands and grants kisses if ever angry.
I do believe I’ve come to be appreciative of Saint Valentine’s Day, for reminding me of these things.