This year we’re not that interested in boxes of chocolates, pink champagne, or roses. As much as we enjoy the trappings of this silly holiday, this year we’re focused on real love.
And we are so very lucky, friends, because although divisiveness continues to swirl around us, we are surrounded by even greater amounts of real love. The good stuff. The true stuff. The kind of love that matters to the soul and the memories of which will sustain us in old age.
Real love is the early-rising 8-year-old child who learns to turn on the coffee maker in the morning so Mommy can have coffee as soon as she wakes up.
Real love is the friend who reads a book that moves her, and so she sends you a copy because she wants it to move you, too.
Real love is the spouse or partner who routinely bestows small kindnesses – filling up your car with gas, handing you the good section of the Sunday paper first, replacing your toothbrush with a brand-new one before you’ve even realized the old toothbrush was looking a little worn out.
Real love is the toddler who grabs your face with both her chubby hands, then smiles a beaming smile up at you because she is so thrilled that you are her mommy.
Real love is the friend who drops everything to be with you and hold your hand when your child gets sick and is admitted to the hospital.
Real love is the mother who rearranges her whole schedule – with no complaint and no judgment – to babysit for the grandkids when you’re unexpectedly sent on a business trip.
Real love is the grandfather who takes his grandson to basketball practice every Wednesday night.
Real love is the cat who sleeps on your feet every night, even the nights when you’re restless and can’t quite settle comfortably.
Real love is the child who draws a picture of you and her surrounded by a crooked heart.
Real love is the lawyer who rushes to the airport – who is, in essence, a first responder – and spends hours sitting cross-legged on the dirty floor, efficiently completing pro bono immigration paperwork for strangers in hopes that they will be more quickly reunited with their loved ones.
Real love is the man who takes in foster children with terminal diagnoses, and who loves them and cares for them and helps them live their best possible lives, despite the profound physical and emotional toll it takes on him.
Real love is the nanny who donates part of her liver to the toddler she’s cared for for only three weeks.
Real love is the teacher whose first priority every single day is making sure her students are clean and fed.
We are surrounded by grace, friends. It comes in many forms. Even in these trying days, when our country feels divided and angry, we are surrounded by grace and love.