A mother’s wish for Valentine’s Day
It took me three minutes to go from shaking my fist at Valentine’s Day to believing there might be some merit in it.
As a kid, I loved Valentine’s Day. How could I resist adult-sanctioned sugar highs? How could anyone?
As an adult, I’ve scoffed (generally quietly) at the idea of designating a day for showing love. I’ve shaken my head at the idea love could ever truly be expressed in a purchased gift or greeting card.
When Chris asked if I’d be interested in writing a Valentine’s Day post for a good cause, I was too busy balking at the words “Valentine’s Day” to hear the “good cause” part of his question. But as the seconds ticked by, my thoughts raced faster and faster toward a surprising conclusion.
Last year, I argued against Mother’s Day detractors on Facebook by stating that none of the gifts I wanted could be bought at a store. I wasn’t celebrating it as a way to get mad loot. I wanted only a morning off and the gift I described here. Besides, I typed furiously, the day wasn’t meant to make up for a year of love not shared or shown. I felt it should be taken as a reminder: Hey! Look! I know you’re busy making ends meet, but slow down and take time out today to love on the moms who light up your life!
Within 180 time-stamped seconds, I realized that my words about celebrating Mother’s Day last year were no less relevant to Valentine’s Day. Regardless of its less than savory origins or its original link to one’s romantic love, I wondered, was there really any reason I couldn’t personally celebrate it as a day of remembering to stop and say “I love you” to all those who brighten my life? That I couldn’t designate it a personal “reminder day” to step outside of time and say, “I may get caught up in my commute, job, blogging, editing, writing, and parenthood, but my love for you is timeless”?
Love needn’t be expressed with boxes of chocolate or greeting cards. It can be expressed in a smile, a hug, a loving word, a song. A day itself can’t tell us what or how to celebrate. It doesn’t demand we show our love on it and it alone.
That’s a human choice. We choose how we show our loved ones that our lives are better for them, on Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year.
Today I change my stance on Valentine’s Day. I do so thanks to the innocent question of a friend who asked if I’d consider posting about a little girl named Donna, about whom I previously wrote here.
Donna celebrated her last Valentine’s Day in 2009. In October 2009, she died of cancer.
But here’s the thing: for her four years, she lived. She lived with joy, bravery and panache that continues to inspire thousands of people who never met her face to face.
I admire not only Donna, but also her mom, Mary Tyler Mom, who lived through 31 months of her daughter’s cancer treatment . . . and then relived it through Donna’s Cancer Story so others could see for themselves the brilliance of her daughter’s spirit.
Does my admiration stop there? Not by a long shot. I admire and applaud all those who watch their amazing little lights shine on in the face of cancer, and those who work tirelessly to see those lights endure for many decades yet.
I wonder what it would be like to kiss my son goodnight every night, not knowing if I will ever get the chance to kiss him again. Wondering alone makes me wish a million times over I could take away illness and grant life.
That’s outside of my power. What’s within my power is helping Donna’s light shine by telling you about her courage and exuberance. By telling you about the countless lights holding strong in hope for a cure, and about what you can do to help some of their parents know the joy of many more years of bedtime kisses and dance recitals.
From St. Baldrick’s, here are some of those ways:
How can you help conquer kids’ cancer?
1. Donate now to fund lifesaving research
2. Sign up as a shavee or volunteer at an event near you. (Once you find an event, click on the blue box that says “participate at this event.” If you want to join the Donna’s Good Things team, click here.)
3. Can’t find an event near you? Organize your own event. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation will coach you every step of the way. In particular, they are looking for new events in Maine, Mississippi, Alabama and Utah.
I will match up to $250 of total donations made by you to the Donna’s Good Things team. If you donate, please forward me a copy of your receipt (sans personal info!) so that I know how much to match. If you’re donating in someone’s honor or memory, please let me know in a few sentences whose honor/memory so that I may help their light shine in a follow-up post.
Donna lives on in her family members’ hearts, my heart, and in thousands of other hearts that see the beauty of baldness in a way they might not have without Donna. For her parents and those who knew and loved her day to day while she still danced through this world, the dazzling breadth of her impact cannot possibly replace the loss of her light here.
Yet she is remembered with love, and her memory is a blessing to many children who might live longer because of her. And you.
Let’s make that count, on Valentine’s Day and every day. Together.
P.S. Karin of Pinwheels and Poppies, Chris of From the Bungalow, Katy of I Want a Dumpster Baby and Lisha of The Lucky Mom are also blogging for Donna today, along with several others! Be sure to visit Donna’s Good Things on Facebook to find all of the posts. Happy Donna Day!
© 2012 Deborah Bryan. All rights reserved.
Duplication in whole or substantial portion is explicitly forbidden.