I'm not a big fan of Valentines day. I never have been. I haven't celebrated it in years, really, except for my kids. This year I'm in Florida and wow I think it's the most romantic state in the Country. There are flowers everywhere, stuffed animals all over. I was at the store today and it was swarming with men picking out cards and flower and balloons-it was very touching. It made my synicism of Valentines day subside a bit, maybe there were truly romantic men out there. Which made me think about why women aren't equally as responsible on Valentines day for making their men feel loved and adored. Why is it only a one way holiday? It made me think about love. True love, the kinds you think are only found in books and movies. Does it exist? Or is it reserved for the beginning of relationships when things are fresh and new. This week I've come to realize that true love is not about butterflies in the stomach and being wooed and pampered. True love stands the test of time. True love is caring for eachother when your looks are fading, your health is failing and things aren't all balloons and roses.
I'm spending time with my parents, right now. My mom is not doing well. She spends most of the day in bed and can't care for herself, needing assistance to walk from the bed to the bathroom. As heartbreaking as it is for me to watch and see her deteriorate I see the toll it takes on my dad. He cares for her, going to whatever lengths possible to make sure she has whatever she could possibly want or need. He looks at her with the same love that I've seen for my entire life. I see the emotion when he thinks about life without her, it is soul crushing. Their neighbors, friends and even the medical professionals I've met with this week all have stories of my parents and how devoted they are to each other. Theirs is a love story that deserves to be told. It's not a fancy, storybook romance that you would think about, but it is a real live one, one that a lot of people never get to live.
I spent the evening tonight with a friend of theirs. I brought her over some of the pepper steak I made for dinner and she invited me in for a glass of wine. I sat for the next 90 minutes listening to her tell stories about things she loved about my parents and about her love story with her husband (who passed away 7 years ago). He was her first and only love. They met in high school and were married for 54 years before he died. It was so romantic to hear even of their final days together, as he struggled with dementia and even become non verbal for the last 3 months of his life. She cared for him, loved him and was devoted to him until he took his last breath. It made my heart ache to see how much she misses him and the love in her eyes as she told me about their life together. It also made me sad to realize how many people will never have that.
These are the true love stories. Not the ones revolving around flowers and candy and jewelry, but the ones that stand the test of time. Loving someone so much that no time, or distance, or illness or challenge can keep you from being there for that person and spending your life with them. That's what love is about.
Happy Valentines Day <3