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What is Love?

February is the month of LOVE!

Once again Valentine’s Day is looming. It is a day that can trigger many emotions.

For those involved in a romantic relationship there are roses, chocolates, romantic dinners, and even the possibility of a ring given in a moment of swooning adoring love received with the same joy and anticipation of a life to be shared together.

For those that find themselves alone, Valentine’s Day can be a painful reminder of failed relationships, missed opportunities, and lost loves.

I invite you to look at love from a different perspective. Love is not wrapped up in a single day dedicated to love. There are so many ways to feel and express love. I am grateful to have known many of them in my life.

There are many faces of love. It is not always about the romance.

Real love does not always look like the fairy tales of books and movies. The real power of enduring love is in the knowing that it is always there. That someone truly loves you for you. That someone is willing to do whatever it takes to be there even when things are not easy.

There is the love a woman feels the moment she knows she is pregnant and feels the flutter of new life in her womb. That moment when she knows that her life will be forever changed.

There is the love a new parent feels when they hold their newborn child for the first time, knowing that this precious life is totally dependent on their nurturing caring love.

There is the love shared by an adopting parent and child that they have been gifted each other though that bond of love by choice. They have chosen each other in love.

There is the love you see when you look into the eyes of an adored pet. You heart is filled with love as they snuggle by your side or nestle in your lap. On your darkest days you are lifted by the loving bond you share.

You can feel love of a place that brings special memories. You can feel love in preparing foods that remind you of special people in your life even when they are gone. You are expressing love in keeping the family traditions that make you feel warm and cozy and loved.

We live in a throwaway world where we are too often looking for the next thing. Some people become obsessed with the thrill of the passionate side of pursuing new love. The physical attraction, the flutter in your gut, the rolling thunder of making love for the first time. This is a chemical reaction that can be so powerful that you fail to see beyond the moment. A moment that can fade a quickly as it came upon you.

If you are always looking for the next chemical connection, you are missing out of the true meaning of LOVE.

My parents were married for 65 years, parted only by the passing of my father. My dad was not what you would call romantic. Although every year on October 23rd flowers would appear on the dining room table. Not for a birthday or anniversary. They were a celebration of their 1st date. He never forgot the day that changed his life forever, the day he fell in love with my mother.

My dad’s love built a beautiful home with everything my mother could dream of. All she had to do was ask and it was done. Each project was a labor of love.

I only heard them raise their voices in an argument one time. There is nothing that my dad or my mom would not have done for each other. Even as my mom started her journey into Alzheimer’s my dad kept her safe and protected.

At my niece’s wedding my parents were the last couple on the dance floor for the Anniversary dance. The MC asked them the secret of their long marriage. My mom said, “Never go to bed angry.” My dad said, “Spend a lot of time in bed!” Everyone laughed…

This is the love story that I was blessed to witness.

Ultimately, I was blessed to experience my own love story.

I was blessed to be loved completely by my sweet Gentle Giant Stan for 28 years. After my 1st marriage ended in divorce, I did not think that I would experience love again.

Wow, was I wrong. The ink was barely dry on the divorce paperwork when Stan, a long time acquaintance from the scuba club came into my life. I was putting together a diving trip to Bonaire and was calling the list of past dive travelers. Stan was on the list. He asked who else was going. After I read him the list he asked “ What about Bob?” I responded that we were no longer married.

Two days later there is a message on my answering machine inviting me to a Pig Roast on July 1st and to bring macaroni salad. Not sure if it was just a Bar-B-Que invitation or a date I made my macaroni salad and showed up at the Pig Roast. Who knew it was a test, thank goodness I made home-made macaroni salad.

Standing in the kitchen with Stan’s sister she shared that they had planned the Pig Roast and each invited their own list of guests. Turns out I was Stan’s list. Interesting…

On July 4th the temperature was up in the 90’s. I invited Stan over for a swim. He then invited me out to dinner two days later. Our first official date. Over dinner he blurted out, “I’m going to marry you!”. I was shocked to say the least. He followed up with “I don’t care how long it takes you, but we are meant to be together.”

He was right and we were married less than two years later. From the first moment we were as comfortable together are a pair of old slippers under the bed. The love we felt for each other was deep and multifaceted.

We celebrated the beginning of our relationship with a pig roast every 4th of July for 25 years. We were soulmates in love and life. We shared the joy, laughter and good times along with heartbreaking health challenges that never broke Stan’s spirit or our love for each other.

I know that he survived the last three years he was here because of his love for me. He did not want to leave me alone. It was out of love that I gave him permission to go knowing that our love was not bound by this earth.

Even now I feel his love surround me in a gentle hug. I know that he is watching over me smiling with love in his blue eyes. He is giving me the strength to face my own challenges all because of love that lives on nearly five years after his passing.

I invite you to look at the love in your life this Valentine’s Day beyond the narrow definition of the purveyor’s of cards, chocolates, and flowers.

Take a moment to share your feelings of love with everyone that has touched your heart.

· Make a phone call to a family member

· Text an old friend

· Hug a child

· Check on a neighbor

· Remind someone that you are thinking of them

· Do something unexpected for a stranger

Don’t limit these expressions of love to one day of the year.

Instead choose to live in LOVE every moment of every day.

When you do

You will understand the true meaning of LOVE!

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