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Life Chez Dee Episode #51: Valentine's thoughts

Valentine’s Day … What does that day say to me? Well it evokes so many emotions for me. The first thing which comes to mind for me, and most people I’d guess, is love. Love for a husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend. The person you fancy who gets the card with the question mark. Should it be made obvious who sent it, or should it be left for them to wonder … The latter probably being a recipe for upset, and thankfully (she says with much relief) something I’ve never had to experience.

I have always bought a card for Justin, and so too has he for me. And not wanting to tempt fate in any way, but he’s always sent me flowers too. Justin was away this year, in the south of France on a business trip, and I did wonder what would happen. I did get champagne and a lovely Cath Kidston bag when he got back from the airport late that night. The following day he took Oliver to his piano lesson, and called to buy me some roses whilst he was out and about… which was rather nice … and nice for him too, as all the flowers were half price on Saturday morning. He’s spotted in Sainsbury’s by my mum and dad … “you’re a bit late” says my dad … kettle and pot spring to mind here given that my dad has never bought my mum anything for Valentine’s Day, saying “she’s my wife, not my Valentine”. I would at this point say that romance is dead for them, but to be honest, I don’t really think it ever existed … but love did … and does. I think of my mum and dad and how much my dad does for my mum. Yes they bicker, and moan, and argue, and pick at each other … they have done that for as long as I can remember, but they are together, always … doing anything and everything for the other … and there’s a lot of Dad being told what to do as well. And now, as my mum is incredibly poorly, my dad is there with her, at her side, at every hospital appointment, treatment, and any other time of the day - for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health.

I think back with love and pride, when I remember my children making cards … cards for all occasions, but I talk specifically now of Valentine’s cards. Some made at school, some at playgroups when they were younger. It was always encouraged. Groups, I found from experience, always celebrated notable dates on the calendar and did some related craft project. Valentines is a lovely day to celebrate as it’s all about love. So from the children, there would be cards made for their mums, dads, grandparents. My children always made a Valentines’ card for me at school, nursery or playgroup …. they don’t now I might add … something else that they grow out of, and in the blink of an eye that special time, when you are their whole world, has gone.

I still have some of the cards which were made for me. I keep all the cards made for me by the children. That short period of time when they’re little, and so desperately in love with their mum, and so desperate to please and make something special.

To analyse this day, and love, and love of the children is something I think I’ve become more focussed on since the death of Edward. I still love my husband, and given all we have been through, the difficulties, trauma, pain, heartbreak and deep, deep sadness, I think that our love is still strong. The horrific circumstances we have endured almost binding us tighter …. only the two of us having any comprehension of what the other has gone through.

And there is still deep sadness that Edward is no longer with us. Not that he’d be making us a card any more, he’d have well and truly grown out of this, but at a time of love, and reflecting on love, how can a child not be uppermost in the thoughts of a mother.

That mother’s love for her children is unwavering, unconditional and infinite. Whether they are still with us, whether they are little or grown up, and indeed whether they are no longer with us. That bond, that tie goes on forever and ever. That magical unconditional love a child gives to its mum stays with her, it begins before she can see the child, it begins at the point of conception, and it goes on throughout childhood, throughout adulthood, and throughout any time her child is no longer here on earth. That love knows no boundaries, in this world, or on a celestial level.

I couldn’t let my writing this weekend go by though without a mention of love for each other, and the importance of kindness.

You can’t escape the intolerance which seems prevalent in the news lately. The tragic death of a celebrity this week has seen a flood of social media posts. “In a world where you can be anything, be kind”; “my door is always open”, “kettle is always on”; “here if you need to talk”.

I have stopped in my tracks and been thrust back into the dark memories of the early days of my grief. How so many people said similar to me. But however well intentioned, it is not helpful. These are just empty words; a way to absolve the writer from feeling they’ve not been there for someone.

When a person is desperate, at their lowest ebb, in a very dark place … they are not thinking or functioning rationally. They don’t know what they want; they don’t know what to ask for; they don’t know what they need; they don’t know who to turn to. Don’t generalise; don’t be vague. Go and see them; message them; phone them; be specific; be there.

I know from my own personal experience of being in that very dark place, not knowing what I wanted, who I wanted, what I thought, or what I needed to do. Those who messaged me, called me, called to see me, told me they were coming, messaged me without requiring a reply, being there ... that was important, and what was needed, and what got me through the times I never thought I’d survive. Being noticed, acknowledged, remembered, listened to and heard is what is needed.

“Love thy neighbour” – that’s your family, friends, and fellow man … of every age, sex, colour, faith … in your neighbourhood, your country and all countries. Love being patience, tolerance, acceptance; forgiveness, charity, faith, hope, love … love in a different sense than that we talk about on Valentine’s Day, but on this Valentine’s Day has felt even more relevant and important.

At our wedding one of the readings was 1 Corinthians 13. I think about these words; beautiful words; poignant words. For all we have been through, and go through these words still echo true. “These three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”


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