We have never taken Hallmark Holidays too seriously around the LaJoy house...you know, the holidays that were invented so that certain companies can make some big bucks. Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day, they all fall into that category. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy being acknowledged as much as anyone does on Valentine's Day or Mother's Day, but I have always found it sad that we have to have a day earmarked to show our love when it should be something so natural and part of our every day life that we never NEED a special day to celebrate it. I don't know about anyone else, but I would much rather be treated with respect and love all year long than to get a bouquet of roses once or twice a year.
I am a very, very lucky woman, I live within a family where love is expressed often and sincerely by every single one of us. I walk in the door after coming home late and there always seems to be at least one person greeting me with a hug. I have kids who come up for no reason at all and give me a kiss, just as I do with them. We probably dispense 10 or 12 hugs a day to each other! And as I write this, Joshie has been sleeping in bed with Matthew for the past several nights, just because they love each other and want to be near one another. For us it is such a natural part of our lives, that I often don't think about how blessed we all are.
Then you see a child somewhere who touches your life on the outskirts, a child whose dirty clothing and unkempt hair tell much of their story. A child who beams when any attention is paid to them at all. A child who in all likelihood isn't told very often that they are loved. A child who you wish you could take home, give them a warm bath and some fresh clothes, sit them down to a hot meal...and then cuddle with them on the couch until their heart is full.
In some ways, I guess I have actually had the opportunity to do just that although for some reason I never thought of it in that way until just writing the above sentences. Kenny is one of those kids, Matthew is one of those kids, Joshua is one of those kids. There are two girls who are those kids and are feeling alone even as I type this. With Kenny you feel it the most intensely though. Sometimes he will come up to me, give me a hug or a kiss or snuggle next to me when we are talking about something important, and it feels as if he wants to crawl right inside of me the yearning is so great and the emotion so deep. Perhaps love is that much more appreciated when it wasn't felt for so long. I have some of the most amazing moments of connection with Kenny...but then again I guess I really could say the same about each of my sons.
Valentine's Day has arrived early at our house, and I thought I would share it with you all. I started it a couple of days ago when I was putting away some dry erase markers and got a bee up my bonnet when, with a grin, I went into the boys bedroom and wrote a "mommy love note" on their bathroom mirror. I then proceeded to our bathroom where Dominick was ducking under the shower head to rinse the shampoo from his hair and while he couldn't see I wrote a love note to him on the mirror. He got out and I heard him laughing about it. I never expected the response I got from the boys when they came home later than afternoon and discovered their note...all 3 of them came running out laughing and giggling as they bear hugged me and told me how cool it was.
Now the Valentine Fairy is sneaking around the house, and every time one message is erased, another appears. Matthew attacked one bathroom, all three boys left us wonderful notes, and tonight Matt erased my message in their bathroom and proceeded to draw a huge heart and tell his brothers that he loves them! Silly as it is, I wish those little notes could stay there forever as a reminder of this sweet time of our lives when life is so good, when love flows freely, when hearts are gently cared for. I have lived long enough to realize it may not always be this way, that difficulties arise and hearts close up to protect ourselves from the pain caused by others. While I hope that won't happen with any of us, I know it could and this time right here and right now must be cherished. The giggles and laughter, the snuggles and kisses all could disappear and sorrow take up residence. It has happened before in my life, which is perhaps why these moments are not just rushed through but are savored.
I know y'all get tired of hearing me talk about "Love, love, love." or "I love my kids" or "Man, I love my husband!". At choir I often get teased because with almost every song I end up saying "I LOVE this one!". I also often write about how much I appreciate and love my friends, and that certainly must get quite boring to read about.
But I can't help but think about what life would be like were I not able to feel and experience that much love, both directed at me and from myself towards others. What would my home feel like on a daily basis? How much less rich would my life be? I thought about it today as I was driving home, what did it feel like for Kenny not to have a single person whom he was important to? Or my dear sweet Joshie, what ache in his heart existed prior to us arriving and what great effort he went to in those first couple of years to protect his heart from another injury...one that might have been a death blow. And even Matthew, who from the very first moment I held him refused to look back and clung to me as if I was a lifeline, which I guess I probably was.
And what about those in all of our lives whom we see every day who we know don't have enough love in their lives. The ones for whom the smiles rarely appear, or whose stiff shoulders indicate they have seldom been cradled in the arms of another. We have someone in our life right now, someone whose entire body cries out to us and speaks of loneliness. This person is so filled with despair and resignation that it is almost painful to be near them, for you do not know what to do in the face of such dejection. How I wish I knew how to reach that person's soul, to bring a little light into the eyes of someone I know is in great pain in many different ways. And yet I have failed there, I am too afraid of being rebuffed, too uncertain of knowing what would be the right approach, and if being honest I am too scared that what I see there might be myself someday. For I have visited that place where desolation reigns and have been thankful to only be a temporary guest.
But for today, I am loved and I am loving. For today, my heart is light and my life is right. St. Valentine has already visited here!