It is the type of winter day we are occasionally treated to here in northern Minnesota...and the type of day that makes me love winter. The sun is shining, the snow is sparkling, and the sky is a hopeful shade of blue.
But my heart is heavy.
Today is Valentine's Day. Normally I exchange cards with my husband but that's about it. It is one of those made up holidays, after all. And truthfully I always feel melancholy on Valentine's Day. It makes me think of loves lost, non-reciprocal love, and makes me feel sad for those who don't or haven't known love.
This year is different.
It's only been about seven weeks that I learned that I have metastatic breast cancer, also known as Stage IV breast cancer. Simply, I learned right before Christmas that the cancer I had "beat" in 1999 and again in 2003 had returned...this time taking up primary residence in my lung with some vacation homes in my pelvis, femur, and spine.
There will be other times to rant and rave about what it is like to have cancer back in my life 17 years after my primary diagnosis when I was so close to that magic 20-year mark. There will be other times to post about what this new life of mine is, and means, and how it will end.
But back to my reason for posting: Valentine's Day. Sigh.
I have never needed a reason to 'remember" those I love. I have never needed a wake up call to my own good fortune. I don't need to be reminded to "live every day" or "love like there's no tomorrow".
Ugh. All of that garbage makes me want to scream!
The truth is I knew the second I met my husband that I had won the lottery. He loved me fully and unconditionally then and that has never changed. And I get to luxuriate in the power of that love every day. He has ridden this roller coaster with me for almost 27 years, and he's always making sure I have the best ride of anyone!
I have never doubted the love of my beautiful daughter. I distinctly remember the moment when as a toddler she took me by the hand and my heart fluttered...because in that touch was the trust and promise and bond of a love that can never be lost. Even though she is miles away I can feel it as powerfully as if she were sitting next to me right now.
I am so lucky to bask in the sunshine of my son's love every day. Because he lives with us, I am treated to his honest, unapologetic displays of affection: the same way he has showed me love ever since he mastered the workings of his own body, especially his ability to smile. I am treated to his love like a waterfall that never stops. It is his nature and I am the lucky recipient.
I know I am loved.
I don't need flowers, or chocolates or cards, to know it.
I know that I am incredibly lucky. I am cared for. I am supported. I am entirely who I am because of these three.
The part that I am struggling with, the part that I dislike so much about Valentine's Day is: how on earth do I let them know how deeply, how tenderly, how furiously I love them? The love in my heart overwhelms me. It is actually painful. My heart physically hurts. I cannot breathe when I think of it. There is no poetry, no perfect sunrise (or sunset for that matter), no music, no beauty that I could hold out to them and say...this, this is how I feel.
And, honestly, it is the way I have always felt. But the desire to tell them is now more incessant and immediate.
Simply put, they have made my life a LIFE.
They have given me everything I have ever wanted or could ever need.
Somehow one day I will find a way to tell them. I will keep trying.
I will keep accepting their love.
and I will keep loving them.
The bravery to love despite the pain that comes from it, is the truest meaning of love I can imagine. It is amazing that we humans continue to do it, knowing that we risk heartbreak.
I will continue to love until my heart bursts into flames with its intensity. I will never, never stop.