Who would have thought that a chance encounter with a stranger one winter evening could leave a lifelong impression?
Christmas was a few days away and I remember thinking as I finished my holiday errands, what a beautiful night for a walk. While I stood waiting for the traffic light to change, a middle-aged man approached carrying two shopping bags. After a moment of silence, the man abruptly turned to me and stated that he was on his way to the hospital to visit his wife. I expressed my sympathy and wished her well. He nodded and stared at the ground in front of him. Although the light had changed, I instinctively held back. He looked up and in an emotion-choked voice, explained that his wife was in a coma. I listened quietly as he shared his story, touched by his obvious devotion and love for her.
He showed me his shopping bags filled with Christmas gifts. “I’m taking these presents to her so that we can celebrate Christmas together. My children think it’s a silly idea because she’s in a coma.” He paused and then asked hesitantly, “Do you think …that in some way she knows that I’m there…that she can hear me or feel that I’m by her side?” Without hesitation, I answered, “Yes, I do.” He smiled. “I think so too.” He then thanked me and went on his way.
Twenty-five years later, the lesson of that conversation still holds dear. It’s especially poignant for me now as I celebrate my own marriage of eighteen years. Now that I’m older and (I’d like to think) wiser, in matters of the heart, I can fully appreciate the depth and beauty of the stranger’s message. Every day is Valentine’s Day.
For me, it means not taking each other for granted as life is so unpredictable. It means saying, “I love you” at the beginning and end of each day. It means taking a moment every day to show our appreciation for one another: a kiss, hug, hand squeeze, shared laugh, thank you, or simply listening. Daily moments of love and affection such as these, enriches our overall intimacy and focuses our attention on the positives during conflict. To quote Henry David Thoreau, “Love must be as much a light, as it is a flame.”
Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day every day?