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A mother’s wish for Valentine’s Day

Three minutes.

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?

Non-celebration of Valentine's Day 2008

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!

Let 8th grade "Debbie" tell you about those origins!

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 the Fairy Flower (photo used with permission)

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.

4. Have questions about getting involved? Visit http://www.StBaldricks.org or contact heather@StBaldricks.org.

One rockin' dancer (photo used with permission)

TMiYC readers:
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.

  1. clownonfire
    February 14, 2012 at 4:49 am

    This is a truly touching post. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. February 14, 2012 at 5:51 am

    Happy Valentine’s Day, Deb! I love ya! This post is yet another shining example of your beautiful heart and generous spirit. If that ain’t a fitting tribute to V-day, I don’t know what is.

    Okay. Peppermeister came close. Breaking Dawn: Part 1 on DVD and champagne 😉

  3. February 14, 2012 at 6:08 am

    haha “I could go on and on about such customs but it could get quite boring.” No, this post is definitely not boring and it looks like you have written the piece your young heart was searching for. Happy Valentine’s Day to you. Thank you for always forging a place in our hearts on other days of the year.

  4. February 14, 2012 at 7:22 am

    absolutely perfect. So well done Deb. I’m all misty.

  5. February 14, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Beautiful and straight from a mama’s heart. Thank you for sharing this, Deb!

  6. February 14, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Excellent, Deb! As usual. And wow! A matching donation on top of what you’ve already generously donated!

    I love how you talk about doing what’s within your power. It’s a mighty power, indeed. Dark Moon!

  7. February 14, 2012 at 8:47 am

    How lovely, Deb! Happy Valentine’s Day, my friend!

  8. February 14, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Sending you a copy of my receipt!

  9. February 14, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Awesome post, Deb! You’re one of my heroes. You rock my socks!

  10. February 14, 2012 at 9:51 am

    This is so beautiful and touching, I’m so glad you decided to do it.

  11. February 14, 2012 at 11:03 am

    What a great tribute to a beautiful child and a heartwarming effort to raise awareness. Thanks, Deb.

  12. February 14, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Beautiful post from a beautiful spirit. Thank you.
    I am sorry I cannot give more to St Baldwins for their work – just last week I sponsored a shavee and cannot manage more here. I really hope that your inspired post gets other people to reach deep when I cannot.

  13. February 15, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Deb: Your generosity boggles.

    When our son was born, he stopped breathing five times. The thing is: he started breathing again. I can’t imagine the horror these families have experienced. We always give to our NICU — and we always give to The American Cancer Society.

    I don’t know if the number of cases of pediatric cancers are up, but I sure seem to be hearing about them more.

    And they are heart breaking.

    Thank you for sharing. And for making those donations.

  14. February 15, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    This post is just lovely. What a beautiful little girl! My heart breaks for her parents. I wrote a post a while back about an old friend of mine, that I’d lost touch with, who had recently lost her daughter (age 2). I was very luckly to get back in touch with her a few weeks ago, and she is understandably still struggling to cope with things, but is doing better with the help of friends, family and church. I’ll be heading over to Donna’s page here soon to make a dontation!
    I hope you and the fam had a great Valentine’s Day because you truly are a person who exudes positivity and love!
    PS-It was so great to talk with you the other week! 🙂

  15. February 20, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Happy Belated Valentine’s Day!

  1. February 14, 2012 at 7:46 am
  2. February 15, 2012 at 8:13 am
  3. March 4, 2012 at 12:23 pm
  4. March 11, 2012 at 12:13 pm
  5. March 25, 2012 at 8:59 am

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