Just in case we missed the memo the other 363 days out of the year, there it is in bright red.
Or the lack thereof.
In my case, this is the third year I face Valentine's as a single. There is no expectation of flowers or a card or a date for dinner, and the rules of this holiday are clear:
If Valentine's is to celebrate the one we love, and no one celebrates me, then...I surely must not be loved.
And the heart crushes, and the tears fall, and how does one breathe through that?
Well, let me fill you in on a secret.
Valentine's Day lies.
It isn't a dozen roses or a pretty card or chocolate or even a fancy date that declares you are loved. It isn't jewelry from a store or a diamond that sparkles under studio lights. Love isn't something plastic can buy you or something that has to be paid back.
Love isn't some big thing someone does for you once a year.
Love is the million little things anyone does for you every day of the year.
Love is when someone helps you pick roses to go on your daddy's casket.
Love is the note that says, "I'm praying," when you wonder if anyone really knows how horribly hard this road of yours is.
Love is the grocery bag with the chocolate pudding left on the front table when you are so sick you cannot get out of bed, little less to the grocery store.
Love is a friend who takes you to get a rental when you truck has been totaled in a wreck and then checks the rental for dings and bumps when all your energy is spent trying not to be overwhelmed by how wrecked your life feels.
Love is time and attention and joy...even when the person has no knowledge about this hobby you love but loves how your face lights up when you talk about it.
Love isn't what looks beautiful when the light hits it just right. Love is beautiful because of how it shines in the darkness.
A friend of mine doesn't kayak, but he knows I love to, so he gave me the number of a friend of his who is an instructor so I can learn more and increase my kayaking options.
Another friend who knows more about guns than I may ever learn was excited with me when I told him I had ordered the barrel for my rifle.
My cousin took time to drive me for my post op visit today and then took my kids to the library.
One of my besties spent nearly four hours on the phone with me a few nights ago and talked about stuff I never talk about...but needed to.
Friends rejoice with me, encourage me, cheer for me, check on me, pray for me.
They love me.
And I know. People will say, "It isn't the same."
They are right. It isn't the same.
It isn't the same because these people have no spoken or unspoken contract. They don't worry that I'll be upset or hurt if they don't "do something". They have nothing to gain by their kindness. No one is creating an environment where they can't NOT do anything without looking like some lazy, uncaring scumbag. There is nothing to tell them they need to do something nice. They just do.
It is different.
It is different when people love because they choose to.
It is different when people show that love, not because they are told to, but because they want to, because they want you to know you are that important to them.
Yes, it is different.
And Valentine's Day is wrong. I may not get roses or cards, and I may not have a date on that "special day".
But I have people who love me everyday, and nothing says, "I love you," more than people who really do.