I am not sure if it is because I have always though it was cliché, or if I am too busy daily with work, kids, life and many things in my head…or maybe it is because I am almost 34 so I am outgrowing it, but for the life of me I can’t seem to remember Valentine’s day or even notice the over flow of red balloons and hearts at the stores! It literally takes a me a few minutes to put two and two together and realize that it’s that time of the year! Until two days ago my husband said something that made the teenager in me so happy and find her way to my heart again. He actually planned a surprise Valentine’s date and I have no idea what we are doing! And I mean full surprise planned, with all the baby sitting details and little logistics of the day taken care of and all. He didn’t ask me to plan anything, help him in thinking of anything, he just said: “Get ready to have some fun! We are actually celebrating Valentine’s this year”
I won’t lie, after 11 years of marriage, three kids, numerous challenges in life topped up by cancer for one our kiddos…date nights and getaways become all about reconnecting, relaxing and re-energizing! So looking forward to an actual fun date night is an exciting thrill to say the least! Needless to say that even though we were never the V-day kind of couple, but Valentine’s day left a bitter taste with us four years ago which is when we decided there will be no more celebrations on that day ever again!
On February 14th, 2013 instead of getting dressed up for a fun date night, we dragged our super tired bodies from one whole confusing and overwhelming week at the hospital to a small and depressing room packed with doctors and more bad news! By that time, we were told our son was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, but we didn’t know how bad it was or what our options were! After the full work up was completed and on Valentine’s day we were given all the facts in the most brutal and heart breaking way ever! All we heard that day were numbers! 20% chances of survival, only 500 kids a year gets this rare kind of cancer, 18-24 months of treatment IF he responds, 7 out of 10 dies from treatment, our son was just a number! and more numbers that were enough to cancel February 14th from our happy calendar forever!
But somehow someway we survived it! Not just that but we survived the same date every year thereafter. We remembered it, took an unintentional moment of silence in memory of that day and in honor of our daily fight, we laughed and we made fun of how we don’t celebrate it any more. Until this year when my husband said “It’s time to start celebrating again”
Amidst the toughest trials one go through in life, it is usually easier for our brains to highlight the traumatic facts and make them superior to all other hidden facts. Our journey with cancer was never easy, not remotely close to easy! It completely changed our lives and who we are, but somehow and by the grace of God we forced ourselves to unravel the small hidden facts around us and created a reason to smile in spite of all the agony! Dates are not just numbers, but memories engraved in our hearts and minds. I have always wondered for example how some of my fellow cancer families manage to survive the dates their loss ones left them, how they called it (celebration of life), how that instead of making it a day of sadness they made it a day of remembrance, celebration and giving back in honor of those they lost. It takes a huge deal of strength to turn one’s weakest moment into a loving one. We don’t need a certain date to remind us of the tragic memories it brought us, nor do we wait for one day a year to sit and mourn and feel sorry for what we lost or what we could have had. We are entitled to be extra emotional around certain dates, we are entitled to wish for them to pass quickly and pretend they are not around, to take a break from the daily fight and maybe just silently embrace the weakness in us, yet we each live daily with our challenges…it shaped who we are and we are reminded with it constantly. I myself got too attached to a date and found comfort in pretending that I have some sort of control over it.
While it is not about Valentine’s, anniversaries, birthdays, deaths, sickness or more… It is about finding it within ourselves to accept and reform our course of thinking and dealing with life, because in my humble opinion while we don’t have any control on what life throws at us… we have full control on how we deal with it.
Every single moment in our life is a blessing, is a gift that we owe to ourselves and the ones we love to embrace, enjoy and make the best out of. A simple word, a kind smile, a human touch goes a long way! This year I decided I will be even more coherent of the little accomplishments that take place, and today with the help of my husband I achieved one! I unleashed the fake attachment I had with February 14th, instead of it being a day that I intentionally avoid… it will be just a Tuesday! Just another day that I can and will choose to enjoy!
Happy Tuesday everyone
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” —-Maya Angelou