This is a strange Valentine's Day for me. There may be a lovely dinner awaiting me but the evening will be cut short so I can get on my IVs.
There's something terribly unromantic about that, and yet, I feel like I'll have the most romantic Valentine of all.
We all know that there is much more to loving than the thrill of romance. Sure, I love flowers more than anyone (even though I have a terrible track record keeping them alive). Chocolate is always great, but my hips need little more of that. And being the card woman I am, nothing is better than a perfect card.
I've had some pretty good romance in my life. We all love fireworks.
But does it hold up in the end? Or does it make a big burst that gently falls down to earth? (Or comes down with a thud or a fizzle?)
Real love is so much more than that. Real love is having someone make your dinner when you are so tired it's all you can do to drive home from work. (Yes, I'm still working.)
Real love is having your partner sitting beside you in the doctor's office asking the right questions that you are too fuzzy to ask.
Real love is having someone rub your back and neck and shoulders that are so sore from coughing there is simply no relief and every bone in your body is screaming "help me!"
Real love is having someone help you learn to be your own advocate and who reminds you to listen for the signs, to know if you are better or worse, and then do something about it.
Real love is someone who reminds you that when you say all the praying you've done hasn't been working that maybe it just hasn't worked yet. And reminds you that others are praying for you, too.
Real love is sitting right beside you when you cough to the point of frenzy, almost gagging -- uncontrollable and painful. And holding you till you stop.
And real love is still holding you when you cry and am discouraged. Real Love lights a lantern to help show the way.
Real love talks you down from the ledge when all you can see is darkness and absolutely no hope of change or healing.
Real love looks at at you when you look like hell and sometimes says so, but you also know he doesn't mean it in a bad way but in a worried way. (This is an old picture. Unfortunately, I look much worse right now.)
Real love doesn't look at the kitchen that is messy or the bed that is (uncharacteristically) unmade with scorn, but either helping or turning the blind eye with no criticism.
Real love knows that some big things can seem small -- it's all in how you look at them. And if they don't seem as big as they really are, maybe they're a little easier to deal with.
Real love looks out for you when you're lost and knows what to do to help you get back where you belong.
Real love listens when you rant about how frightened you are and how much you hurt and how much you just want to be able to be home and heal but just can't.
Real love rides out like the White Knight to help you fight your battles, especially the ones with the evil villains that rip at you mercilessly every single day.
Real love will make you laugh when you are sad -- but he'll also let you be sad. Because sometimes that's the right thing to do.
Real love knows that when you put a lock on a bridge in Paris and toss the key in the river, it isn't just a tourist thing. It's because you both know you'll never need that key.
Real love knows that you're not the girl he fell in love with 17 years ago. He knows you are so much more and he'll be there -- good times and bad times. Because he knows you'll come back.
I hope that everyone in the world will have a real love like mine. The ones who take you dancing, on fancy trips, buy you pretty things -- they are fine and I hope they do that, too. But just make sure they still love you when you look like a truck has run over you and just about all you have to give at a moment is your thanks for their love.
And if you do, you will be happy. Happy like me.
Happy Valentine's Day!