February 14th is the day that is jammed down everyone’s throat to express their love.
Don’t you know that every kiss begins with a jewelry store and the only way your love is measured is by how high the price tag is?
In my opinion, the only way love is measured, or is tangible, is by your children. They are the embodiment of your heart, with little arms and legs attached, asking for money and the keys to your car. Yup, those little buggers can drive you nuts and melt your heart in an instant.
I can remember the exact date and time when I fully understood what true love meant.
It was 1:13pm.
…on Wednesday, Nov 29, 2006
…at Westchester Medical Center
…in the ER
That was when I was told that my daughter’s lungs had collapsed and they could not fix them.
Dr. Smarty-Pants told me that if they didn’t intubate Jena—meaning, put her on a ventilator to help her breathe, to help her exchange the oxygen—she would crash, and there would be nothing they could do to save her.
Once she was intubated, she would be unconscious. The only way we’d talk to her again would be after her double lung transplant, which would take place 500 miles away in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As yet, there was no donor and we were still in New York.
Dr. Smarty-Pants gave me ten minutes.
That’s all I get to tell Jena everything in my heart. To tell her how much joy she’s brought me. To tell her how much I love her.
I had ten minutes.
I told her all those things. I told her that if I could be just a fraction of the person she was, I would be the most incredible person ever. I told her that if I could bring half of the smiles and laughter she did I would be honored to stand in her shadow the rest of my life. I cried. I couldn’t stop crying.
As the tears relentlessly streamed down my face, I apologized for any and every fight we ever had. I apologized for any time she was mad at me or I was mad at her. I told her again and again how much I loved her, how proud I was of her, and how much she’d taught me that I would never be able to repay. I cried. I was shaking. I was terrified. I couldn’t believe I was doing this, I couldn’t believe that I had to.
Try to breathe.
She was wearing a bipap machine that covered her nose and mouth to help her breathe, but she was alert and awake and could talk to me. Jena, like a mother compassionately caring for her child, looked at me and gently shook her head left and right and slowly gave me the most remarkably tender smile. Her eyes looked so deeply into my eyes, like never before. It felt as though she was reaching into my soul with her eyes, and I could feel it. I looked back at her with my bloodshot eyes, sniffling, and my hands shaking in hers.
Jena just said, “Mommy, I love you.”
There were no tears in her eyes, and there was no fear, either; no screaming, no asking why her. Jena in her infinite wisdom knew that love is the greatest of all. All this chaos was inconsequential. Love is what is immortal. Her love for me and mine for her were untouchable. Jena knew love is the only answer. Now I know that, too.
That is what love is. It is untouchable, unbreakable, and it transcends into the hereafter.
Love never ends.
And that is priceless.
I can hear you saying, “I get what you mean, but I like the chocolates, the diamond heart-shaped necklaces, and the candlelight dinner out.” Listen, by all means take advantage of a perfectly executed marketing campaign, I certainly do. I’ll be the first to say, “Just hand over the chocolate and no one gets hurt."
But do me a favor this Valentine's Day. Go find that special someone, stop them dead in their tracks, and look deeply into their eyes and say, “I Love You” and mean it. Then tell me that’s not worth your weight in gold.
Now go share the love.