For anyone who has ever lost a someone, there are those days that hit you like a ton of bricks. Those mornings where you wake up and you remember that you cannot pick up that phone, get in the car, or jump on a plane to be close to them. They will never again exist in your physical space. There are mornings where the busyness of your life gets stripped away and you feel the pain of the words, “my mom is dead.” Yes, there are some mornings when death sits besides you and nestles itself alongside loneliness in your heart.
For me, one of those mornings is always without a doubt Valentine’s Day. It breaks me down every Valentine’s morning, when love should radiate in the air, that it was 4 years ago since I last felt her embrace. It breaks my heart that it will be the rest of my lifetime without feeling that embrace again. I can see that last hug, suitably for my life, in an airport, tears in both of our eyes. I can feel her kiss on my cheek.
I never really thought that embrace would be our last. I continually circle back to all of the things I would have done or said. And maybe that’s the lesson of this all, that we never know, so its important that we don’t leave anything on the table when we get on that plane. We don’t take for granted that “next time” or “later” aren’t guaranteed in this messy thing we call life. That we forgive before it is too late. That we let go before we no longer have the option. That we find peace that the people we love, know how we feel.
Nelson Mandela once said, “people are not going to remember what you did, or what you said, they are going to remember how you made them feel.” I find refuge in this comment, because I know on that day, when I walked away, my mom knew I loved her with my entire heart. It wasn’t about the words, or actions, on that one day, but rather how I fought for her most days of my life. How when I was with her, I was present, I was with her, she was the center of it all in those moments where our hearts were both open and all of the circumstance of our world were stripped away.
And when I think back on my mom, it is not her actions, not her words, but rather how she made me feel that I long for. I miss how brave she made me feel, I miss how safe she made me feel, I miss how beautiful she made me feel, I miss how empowered she made me feel, I miss the presence of my mom the most.
As I sit here on a cold and snowy Valentine’s morning, I am reflecting not only on her, but on those I love the most. I am reminded of something I heard at church on the first Sunday of this year, “do things to be loving, not to be loved.” This is a reminder that it is not what you do but why you do things. It is not what you say but why you say those things. I hope I make those who I love the most feel loved and accepted, and free, and beautiful, and cherished in my presence. I hope that on those days when the world throws a curve ball they can find reassurance in how I made them feel. I hope I have left nothing on the table when it comes to pouring into them. I hope there is no questions about how I feel.
So this is my valentine’s challenge, like last year, go out and sow love. Go out and be intentional with all that you are with those that you love the most. Put away the phone, the to do list, the circumstance, and wear your heart on your sleeve. Go spend time pouring out and being poured into. Walk away at the end of the day knowing that those you love know exactly how you feel. Be unafraid with vulnerability, because tomorrow is never guaranteed, and the time is always now. Be brave with your love, because the world is dying without it. And remember, love is alive, love is eternal, love changes us, love is a decision, and love always, always wins.