Valentines Day is approaching.  I mostly find the commercialization and materialism of holidays in our culture to be a bit overwhelming.  And yet, I appreciate the pause to reflect on what meaning I make out of it all.  Before our loss, I don’t think my husband and I celebrated Valentines Day.  I wasn’t going to let a commercialized holiday determine when my partner and I celebrated the love in our relationship.  We shouldn’t need a holiday to do that.  But since our loss, and since parenting after our loss, there have been some Valentine Days when I told my husband I needed to celebrate that year.  In the midst of grief and loss, in the midst of the early intense years of parenting, I needed a reason to celebrate love.  This year, as I pause to listen, I begin to hear what my heart wants this year…

Love.  Connection.  Being seen by others, and seeing others.  Being with what is instead of trying to create something that cannot be.  Accepting.  Leaning in.  Those are the “things” I want this Valentines Day.  To begin with, these things are not found outside of myself in a box of chocolates or bouquet of flowers (although those things are nice, I won’t deny that!).  I find these things within myself, and in relationship with others.  Our culture sells us a destructive myth that we are independent beings, that we can go it alone, and that it is a sign of strength to go it alone.  But that is not how we work.  That is not how we’re wired.  Our brains are wired for connection.

I experienced the biggest love when my first daughter was born, and in her death.  She taught me about Big Love.  Before her, I thought the love I experienced with my husband was pretty sweet, pretty amazing, and then, my daughter was here, ever so briefly.  And my heart broke wide open.  In those moments when I could sit with what was, rather than wishing my life was different, when I could accept that my daughter would not live very long due to a chromosomal abnormality, I sat in Love.  I was a mother.  And this daughter of mine, well, there would never be anyone else like her again in the world.  And 5 1/2 years out, in this moment, I can remember that Big Love.  I know that even when I cannot feel it, it is always there.  When I let others in, and when others let me in, Love is there.  I am so grateful for the work I do…to sit with the courage and vulnerability that is present in a therapeutic relationship.  A relationship built on trust, connection, seeing and being seen.  This Valentine’s Day, I am thankful my daughter led me to this profound and rewarding work, and way of being in the world.

Where is your baby this Valentines Day?  How are you experiencing Love, or not?  What is your heart telling you this year?