Celebrate the people you love

A new meaning for this special day

Valentine’s Day for me is inextricably linked to the birth of my daughter.  I went into labour February 14, 1989 while watching an episode of Thirtysomething and eating take-out pasta.  That was the most Valentine’s Day excitement I could handle in my very pregnant state.

As we watched our favourite show, I began to have mild cramps. So we timed them dutifully, realizing that light contractions had begun and THIS WAS IT. We’d been warned not to go to the hospital too early because first labours can be very long. So we settled in and thought we had all the time in the world…

Things abruptly changed when my water broke at 10:30pm and heavy labour ensued!  We anxiously awaited the arrival of our friend Trudy, our birth support person — while Jim ran around getting a suitcase put together, with me yelling instructions in-between intense contractions. Once Trudy arrived, we headed out for the hospital.

Even getting to the car seemed to take forever despite it being parked right in front of the house. Each time a contraction hit I doubled over and had to stop walking.  Same scenario when we got to the other end of the drive until I finally sank into a wheelchair at the hospital emergency entrance.

Our daughter Sarah made her appearance at 1:19am on the 15th.  Not quite a Valentine’s Day baby.  However she was the best Valentine’s gift I’d ever received.  And the one I had to work the hardest for!

This year is special

So I’ve thought of Sarah and being in labour and the miracle of birth every Valentine’s Day evening since then.  And it will be heightened this year.  My “baby” is turning 30 years old. How did THAT happen?!

This past weekend Sarah threw a big birthday party to celebrate. It was a feast of food, music and song — and a coming together of her friends gathered over a life-time.  Sarah has performed for many years with the Broadway Chorus and has a wonderful friend group of fellow performers.  So her party had an open mic for all who wished to contribute their talents – musically or otherwise.

Not being brave enough to sing, I turned my efforts to culling our family photo albums to create a slide show of her life.  (How fun to share “little Sarah” with those who’ve only known her as an adult.) It was a big job, as I take a lot of pictures! So getting it down to a five minute slide show was a feat of decision-making.  However in the process, I took a 30 year journey down memory lane.  And what a rich trip it was.  If you want to get into the mood for celebrating the people you love this Valentine’s Day, I highly recommend it!

The upside of parenting

I have never been more in touch with the “perks” of having children than this past weekend, as I watched my daughter sing her heart out and be appreciated by her friends – many of whom also sang their hearts out.  I loved hearing my husband share his poem about Sarah’s growing up years – including some good-natured teasing. And as I watched my son, Jonathan, appreciate his big sister, my parental heart swelled with love.

Just to be clear, our family navigated more than a few sibling spats and conflicts over the years, as many families do.  Our kids have quite different temperaments and interests and it was sometimes a juggle to make family decisions. And like most parents, my husband and I would have welcomed a “do-over” in how we handled some situations.  However those memories softened for me that evening into the larger picture of the love that holds us together as a family — differences, spats and all.  In the big picture, we are solidly in each other’s corner.

Treat yourself to some remembering

So this Valentine’s Day I invite you to take a trip down your particular memory lane and remember the love that holds you close with your loved ones – whether it be your children, a spouse, extended family, grandchildren — or your friends-and-family-of-choice. Pull out the photo albums or scan through your digital pics.  Remember all the love you have invested in those relationships, remember all the love that has come back to you through those relationships and remember how you have grown (and are continuing to grow) in response to them.

Your relationships don’t have to be perfect to appreciate them. Relationships rarely are. However through all the ups and downs, relationships provide our “grist for the mill” in learning to love. And what we learn about letting the fullness of love express through us can never be lost or taken away.  Even when or if those relationships change or pass away.

May your heart be full this Valentine’s Day!

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