February is love. I love being surrounded by the pink, red and white colors of love…the beautiful bouquets of roses and tulips and of course, the chocolate! We have a day that has been set aside to express our love…as if we need a reminder. Are we just too busy that we take love for granted…not appreciating how love threads itself through our lives each and every day? Do we really need a date on a calendar to remind us just what we have and how blessed we are to love and be loved?
I think about this, not just because it is February and I’m supposed to think about it, but it is what is sustaining me through these hazy days of chemo treatments and long sleepless nights. I am surrounded by generous family and friends…giving and loving unconditionally. I’m a lucky girl.
And I have had some time to read…ironic the books…touching my heart…the power of love the central theme of each story.
In one of the books, “A Thousand Days in Venice” a middle-aged, feature writer that focuses on Italian cuisine, finds love for the first time! The story, deliciously intertwined with mouth-watering descriptions of food, takes you on a journey where love has the power to soften the hearts and heal the wounds of the past through the patient and unconditional love for each other. It is a reminder that love isn’t always easy, but it always finds a way home to our hearts.
The other book, “Tuesdays with Morrie”, is a dying man’s journal as told to a former student. He shares his perspective about the meaning of life. In his Ecclesiastes like style, he allows one to consider their life, begs the question “if one’s busyness and actions allows one to avoid or contribute in a meaningful way to society”. He turns his last days into an opportunity to teach others that the most important things in life are giving and loving and that the only thing you take with you and leave behind is a legacy of giving and love.
And it makes me think…this life…to have no regrets…to live a life in which I have contributed…to leave behind a legacy of love…of giving! Have I done enough?
Love matters. It is what moves us. In good and bad…love finds us…empowers us and lifts us. Love is human connection. Through the years, I have been I sustained and filled with the joy and love of my family. It has been good…and I am blessed. But it hasn’t always been easy. There have been deep wells of sorrow…rejection…separation. The hurt and pain directly proportional to the heights of love. Time and forgiveness blurs these lines to spare the soul and bring peace.
Love is complicated. Until it isn’t. If lucky, you will catch a glimpse of this. On one of my daily visits during my mother’s final days, I was made acutely aware of the beauty, simplicity and magnitude of love. When I walked into her room, she said to me, “I’m so glad to see your face.” That was everything to her on this day…that the love she saw reflected in my smile was all that mattered to her…and her complete surrender to it had the power to move me…the power to make me weak in the knees…the strength to go on knowing she would soon be leaving with her angels.
The miracle you see, is that the more we love the more we give and the more we give the more we have. And I believe that being true to our passion opens the heart to giving.
This was my truth years ago, when I was writing, speaking and teaching piano. Definitely in my comfort zone…my heart zone. I was meant to do this…my heart and mind beating as one. Not until years later when a sweet young woman came to me with a hug exclaiming her love for piano and how I inspired her, did I realize what a gift it was to teach…to make someone smile…to sneak into her heart and gently place a measure or two of love for music there. I will always feel like I received much more than I gave.
It is impossible to separate loving and giving…they are one. Victor Hugo in Les Miserable says, “You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving. The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing small acts of kindness.”
I love this…because it says that generosity and love are not necessarily always the big things! It is the constant things. We should make it a habit to reach out to others with love, treating each other with respect, encouraging words, listening ears, helping and willing hands. We are told that “above all things put on love.” This is because we are a vessel that God uses to love and encourage those around us. We need to show this to others all through the year, not just in February, but always through the thoughtful consideration of those around us.
As I reflect on my life, I have devoted my energy to family and a small sphere of those around me. It’s what I’ve known and what I had time and energy to do.
I know I have much more work to do. And I feel the winds of change. My heart and mind open to take action…I long to make a difference…to leave a meaningful legacy.
Nothing teaches more about love and life than the possibility of death. This new journey is revealing this to me in fresh and compelling ways. It’s time to use my voice to inform and encourage, my creativity to bring joy to others, my cancer to raise awareness to multiple myeloma and other blood cancers and my drive and energy to raise funds for continued research to find a cure.
Cancer has given me more than I expected in ways I didn’t expect. I appreciate everything…I am learning to slow down…be more considerate of others…smile more…listen more…be patient…be at peace…help when I have the strength…be thankful. I have a heart to give…I feel it…the power of love growing anew in me.
Yes…the power of love!
Reassured in love’s promise…Love is patient, love is kind and does not envy. Love does not boast, it is not proud. Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always lasts.
And so…I will eat chocolate, wear pink and red, smell the roses…shower my family and friends with love…and be happy to have this February…and hopefully many more…to reflect on my hope…my legacy.