Today is Patrick’s first Valentine’s Day. I should be dressing him in a probably-really-too-girly “Love Bug” onesie and showering him with love and snuggles. Instead, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks contemplating what he’s taught me about love.
Patrick has taught me so much–about loss, about grief, about strength, about survival–but I think the greatest lessons I’ve learned from him are about love. After all, “Grief is the price we pay for love,” (Queen Elizabeth II).
I loved Patrick before I knew he existed, and that love only grew exponentially in the time we had with him. After he died, the pain was so great, I didn’t know if I’d be able to love again. I remember telling my cousin that I didn’t think I could have another child, because I didn’t know if I could love that child as much as I loved Patrick. She said to me, “You heart makes room. You think you couldn’t possibly have enough love to go around, but the more you have to love, the more love you have. It’s one of life’s great gifts.”
I’ve thought a lot about love.
In the days and weeks after we had that conversation, I thought a lot about love. One of the concepts I come back to often is a piece of advice my brother gave when he officiated our wedding. In his charge to the couple, “Every Superhero Needs a Sidekick,” he talked about love being a choice. “Every day you will wake up with a choice whether or not to fulfill the obligation you establish today. And I promise you that, if you make the right choice, your relationship will grow and mature and become so much deeper and valuable than it is today (even if that seems impossible). But make no mistake; it is a choice. And choice requires action. Sometimes that action will be difficult. Life often is difficult. But Ladybug Girl never runs away when things get difficult, and Batman always uses every tool in his belt to do what is right. Sometimes it really helps that your sidekick just happens to be another superhero.”
I’ve made some choices about love since losing Patrick.
I choose to give love more freely. I choose to show love as patience and kindness-especially to my husband. Lloyd and I choose together that we will not let this tear us apart, but that we will lift up each other. We go on adventures. We dance in the kitchen when our song comes on iTunes, ‘causing the grilled cheese sandwiches to burn. We choose each other.
I choose to say, “I love you,” frequently to all those that I love. I choose to be mindful each time I say it, that it’s not rote, but filled with meaning. I choose to send love into the world. I choose to use the <3 emoticon to show love in electronic form. I choose to “LOVE!” statuses on Facebook, rather than just like them. I choose to show love in everything I do, every interaction I have.
Don’t get me wrong, I fail frequently.
I let anger get the best of me, but when I step back I make a conscious choice to try again. I say, “I’m sorry,” when I am wrong or unkind, even if it’s “just” a customer service rep on the other end of the phone. I say, “No,” when I need to–both setting boundaries and setting myself up to support when I can and take a break when I can’t. After all, “no” is a love word.
I choose to love life. I choose to love my life. I choose to love myself. I choose to just love.
I’ve learned that love can’t heal the hole in my heart from losing my son, but it can heal the broken crack and fill the rest of the heart till it feels as if it will burst. A little love for Patrick has grown into a lot of love to share. Thank you for the lessons, my little love bug. We miss you so much, but we share love in your honor.
Love really was your greatest gift.
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