It’s here: Valentine’s Day 2018. This is my fantasy of how I wish I could presently experience the popular holiday:
It’s the end of a long, productive day. I am at home, awaiting the arrival of my sweet husband. I have taken time to prepare a lovely, candlelit dinner for us. I have refreshed myself before his arrival, taking care to use my favorite perfume which he also loves. Tonight, there will be no distractions; I’ve made sure of that. I have a very special gift I will give him after dinner. I watch the clock, wishing he would be here sooner than later. I read a magazine article to bide my time until he arrives.
My ever-practical husband is not exactly the romantic type, but he shows his love for me in a myriad of ways. Over time, he has learned more about my feminine needs for a sentimental and beautiful expression of romance. He has learned by now that my need for romance is deep in my blood and my DNA; there is no substitution. And I cherish him even more now that our long years of marriage have mellowed him to understand what thrills my heart. I marvel at how much he has grown over the years to appreciate, respect, and understand me. Our beginning years were frustrated by misunderstanding what we really needed from each other, but now we are so comfortable and harmonious with each other. Time together has awesomely matured our love from a few exciting, erratic, and hap-hazard sparks to a slow-burning, inextinguishable, trustworthy, and satisfying warmth for each other. I never thought we could achieve this level of love as we grew old together, but we are living proof that a couple can stay in love together forever, perhaps even into eternity. It’s such a beautiful, wondrous mystery.
Finally, my husband opens the front door of our home and my heart beats a bit faster at my joy of his arrival. He greets me with a kiss on my cheek and hands me a gorgeous bouquet of rich, red roses tied with a satin ribbon. He tells me “Happy Valentine’s Day, sweetheart”, and my heart melts. I give him a light kiss on his lips and a tight hug.
Later, we sit down to our candle-lit dinner, enjoying not only the food, but the joy of each other’s company and conversations. We are more than husband and wife; we are best friends. With our meal finished, he helps me do the dishes (that’s a gift alone!), because two can finish the work faster than one. It’s our habit. He heads off to the living-room to relax a bit, and I open a bottle of our favorite wine. I pour our two glasses and join him on the sofa. The roses he brought me fill the air with their intoxicating fragrance. With wine, candlelight, and love ballads playing from our musical collection, we relax into the evening and into each other. He rises from the sofa and extends his hand into an invitation to slow-dance with him to one of his favorite songs. I happily oblige, since I am a lover of dance. I snuggle into his arms and against his warm chest, and I am swept away by the feelings of deep love and security which I feel when I’m with him like this. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the whole world, for, I am loved, peaceful, and at home in my husband’s familiar arms. I thank God that we found each other so long ago, and I silently pray to be able to spend more years with my husband, so we can have many more evenings together just like this one.
Well, now, readers, you have a glimpse into my mind of my Valentine’s Day fantasy. Alas, if my husband had lived, I’m sure we would have gotten to experience at least a semblance of my fantasy. But, he died in January 2015 from a long struggle with and suffering from an unstoppable type of cancer which no treatment could destroy. God knows, my husband gave it his all, and we had hoped and prayed for so long that he would be granted complete remission, if not a 100% cure. We did not have our prayers answered in the way we had anticipated. It was a horrendous experience. We were crushed like grapes for wine and like olives for oil. Now, I’m tasked with learning to live my life as a widow without crumbling into despair.
I watch the local and world news on t.v. daily; I frequently read news stories online; I enjoy listening to NPR for interesting news. However, these days and the past couple of weeks, the advertisement of Valentine’s Day with its commercialism or featured, lovey-dovey human-interest stories ad nauseum have bombarded me until I feel like tearing my hair out by the roots! I am a born romantic, highly sensitive in all of my senses, and I crave to find and enjoy beauty in all things. On the inside, I feel like a progeny of Aphrodite, prone to seek out luxury and sensuality in all that is pleasurable, which is a blessing and a curse at once.
Photo courtesy of Psychology Today
God blessed me with these innate human desires, which are good in His eyes, or else He wouldn’t have allowed humans these feelings. But, fleshly pleasures of any type must be guarded carefully, especially by those of us who are called to be holy in the Judeo-Christian faiths. Being holy sometimes requires restraint, self-sacrifice, discretion, or even abstinence or celibacy (and for good reasons), for over-indulgence in such bodily pleasures are like driving recklessly fast on an icy slope. Sooner or later, there will be an accident, life-threatening or not. But, moral transgressions against God’s laws are always accompanied by heartache, regret, humiliation, shame, and sometimes health and legal issues. I don’t believe God is a prude and scowls when we enjoy ourselves. But, these pleasurable gifts are so incredibly powerful and can be used as expressions of joy, respect, and love, or they can become the most heinous weapons, destroying the user and the one being used, not to mention possibly creating unwanted children. I don’t believe God ever intended for sex to be used as a weapon. But, unfortunately, throughout human history, sex has been used to destroy, rape, kill, enslave, humiliate, torture, and to dehumanize people. It’s best to follow God’s laws and use these gifts wisely.
“Lust is what keeps you wanting to do it even when you have no desire to be with each other. Love is what makes you want to be with each other even when you have no desire to do it.” Judith Viorst
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/judith_viorst
What most annoys me about the hoop-la surrounding Valentine’s Day is that single or widowed folk are made to feel excluded. I am “single again”, not by choice, though. My husband died; it’s so vastly different from being uncoupled by divorce, break-up, or just not ever having been in a relationship because perhaps one doesn’t need or want a significant other. The state of being single is not a deficit or a peculiarity. Just because someone isn’t married or coupled doesn’t mean something is “wrong with them.” Singles can and do lead rich, fulfilling lives, all while shopping for one and sleeping alone. If our society could ever outgrow the melodramatic fairy tale of Valentine’s Day, and institute a more inclusive, compassion-driven honoring of the gift of love (especially recognizing God’s love for all of us), then I think we could become healthier and more balanced within our mental, emotional, and spiritual selves.
Moving on, I’m only in the very beginning of my 4th year of widowhood, so I still experience occasional bouts of lonely dread as holidays like Valentine’s Day approach. I was having a conversation today with a dear friend who is a very wise soul. Inevitably, our conversation turned to Valentine’s Day and I mentioned how much I miss my husband. I told her of the annoyance I felt with all the holiday buzz. Then, she asked me what kind of Valentine gift from my husband had I formerly enjoyed. Chocolates? No. Candies? No. Jewelry? No. My answer was a big, big bunch of roses. I love roses of all colors, as long as they’re long-stem, fragrant, and fresh. Roses make my day any day. (Not only are they beautiful and heaven-scented, but roses are also associated with our Virgin Mary. They are well-suited to Our Sweet Lady. Now, SHE can always teach us all about the power of honest, pure, humble, self-sacrificing love.) Next, my wise friend suggested that I go to the florist to buy a bunch of my favorite roses. Aha, I thought, she is suggesting I buy them for myself, since I know no one else will buy me flowers. Instead, she told me to bring the roses to a nursing home and drop off one rose in as many rooms as there are roses in my bunch. She said to spend a bit of time with each person I give a rose, inasmuch as it is possible. She told me it will make me feel so much better. I asked her if the residents will also feel better by receiving a rose. She said they will be so overjoyed by the gesture and the company. I expressed my gratitude to my friend for such a brilliant idea. I’d never thought of it before, but this is what I’ll do on Valentine’s Day! By the way, this friend is a very intelligent, talented medical doctor who specializes in women’s health, so she knows what she’s talking about. It seems her prescription to feeling loved this Valentine’s Day is to give away some of my love and time, which is free, and the roses aren’t that costly. I’m so looking forward to it! Thanks so much, Dr. P. M. C.
I easily fall into the universal, human trap of thinking too much about my own needs and wants. This tendency hasn’t diminished since I became widowed, because I no longer have a husband to help, soothe, and comfort me. I am now an army of one, it seems. I’m not grumbling; I’m just stating facts. Widowhood usually is a hard journey for most people. And, it’s not as if I can just log into my Amazon account and order up a husband. Ha! If only it were that easy and trustworthy. I’m not that desperate or foolish to think I can just conjure up a new hubby from thin air! I haven’t yet decided if I even want to remarry someday. It seems like an awful lot of work to find someone, and online dating attempts I once dabbled in are mostly home to the Strange Universe of Scammers and other nefarious types. In other words, it’s not realistic, at least for me. But, I don’t enjoy feeling the gaping hole in my being where previously the love of my husband filled up my wants and needs, my security, and the feeling that he would always be here as my life partner. Fortunately, I do have other folk who love me: a few remaining relatives, my in-laws, my nephews on my husband’s side of the family, three wonderfully loving female friends, and last but not least, my super-sweet and loyal animal family a.k.a. “pets.” It’s a small list, but at least I have this. Perhaps one day it will grow larger. Until then, I hope for more love almost every day. Maybe God will bring new, wholesome, and nourishing relationships to me. I’ve always sought quality over quantity when forming social relationships. But a new husband someday, perhaps? Hmmm, I don’t know if that will be God’s plan for me. By this point in my life (50s), I’ve come to understand that God has the best plans for my life, whereas I’ve mades lots of bad decisions in the past in many areas. I think I finally “let go and let God”, and realized I still have a lot to learn about life after I turned 45. I don’t know if that’s sad or normal, but that’s how long it took me to tame my rebellious nature and realize I desperately needed to show more reverence for God’s guidance.
Jeremiah 29:11 New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
I’ve always known that God loves me. I knew this from age 3 or 4 years old, as I have a vivid memory of the first time I knew this fact on a level too deep to explain. No human gave me this idea. I was too young to read, and this wasn’t something I saw on television. I think I had an out-of-body experience, because I went to a place not on Earth where I discovered I could visit with God. It was like my little self became infused with some basic knowledge of God’s existence and His love for me. It was quite pleasant and laid the foundation of my faith. Now, I really need more than ever to feel God’s love vividly, profoundly, and sublimely. I need God to reach into my innermost self and fill me with His golden sunlight of pure love. Nothing else will suffice. I don’t have a set formula for filling myself with His presence. My methods fluctuate sometimes, but the constants for me are Eucharistic Adoration, Holy Communion, praying the rosary, and Reconciliation. I’m striving to become obedient in daily Liturgy of the Hours, daily readings and prayer, and adoration of the Sacred Heart. I do these things, some faithfully, and some not so faithfully, because I feel closer to God when I practice them.
James 4:8 Living Bible (TLB)
8 And when you draw close to God, God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and let your hearts be filled with God alone to make them pure and true to him.
Psalm 52:8 International Standard Version (ISV)
8 But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the gracious love of God forever and ever.
Psalm 66:20 New International Version (NIV)
20 Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!
Psalm 136:2 New International Version (NIV)
2 Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Psalm 34:18 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Courtesy of fineartamerica.com, artist Greg Olsen
Looks like I’ll have to get back to basics this Valentine’s day and carry these Scriptures in my heart all year long. The truth is this: I’m not without a deep, abiding love now or at any other time. I have the promises of God to assure me that He loves me always. I needn’t fret or despair because I have no husband. Spiritually speaking, I have the greatest husband of all, the ultimate lover of my soul: Jesus Christ and the Godhead.