Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Reflections on Love and Loss

A Reflection on Love and Loss

So many words will be spoken about love today.
Some will be forgotten by tomorrow.
Flowers will be sent.
Candy will be received.
Cards will be picked out that the sender hopes will send just the right message.
Love is in the air,
or so it seems.

I would not describe myself as a romantic.
Generally, I don't read romance novels.
In fact, if the truth be told,  romance novels grate on my nerves.
I do love to read great love stories.
I like love stories that read like real life.
I like stories that tell how love survives no matter what life throws at it.
Or I like stories where the love may not survive,
but the person survives the loss of love and thrives after that loss.

I guess I'm too realistic to be a romantic.

I've learned real love outlasts dazzling romance.

When my husband and I married, 
I had a song sung at our wedding by Michael Card.  
The lyrics to the song are taken from the Song of Solomon.
"Arise, My Love"

I love the words of this song because they speak truth.
They speak of a love that honors the loved one.
The song speaks of seeking that the love one has for the other be sealed on the loved one's heart.

Set me like a seal on your heart,
For love is unyielding as the grave.
The flash of it is a jealous fire,
No flood can quench,
For love is as strong as death.

Even though we were "older when we married,

we had not idea what life would bring us when we married.
 No one does.
Jim and Sally 1992

Since those early days of marriage, we've aged.
We've been through good times, very good times.
We've been through rough times,  very rough times,
Today, more than twenty years after our marriage, I rejoice that I can say

My beloved is mine, and I am his.
Song of Solomon 2:16 NKJV

Jim and Sally 2013

Our's is a romantic story, but it is also a story of faithfulness in times of trial and loss.
It is about two people who deeply love and respect each other.
It is about two people who are as different from one another as any two can be.
It is a story about how differences between two people give strength to the relationship.
Where I am weak, he is strong.
And, the vice versa is also true.
Our's is a story of how the relationship between two people created a great team.
It is a story of deep companionship.
I have learned a lot about love from this man that I married.

Loss has also taught me much about love.

The biggest lesson of all is:

Love does not die.

As I look at this photo that Julie took of Phoenix on her last Valentine's Day on this earth,
I am overcome with grief in many ways.
(I also apologize to her siblings if this photo causes them too much pain when they see this.)
Certainly, I am so overwhelmed with a sense of loss today that tears have been silently falling from my eyes nearly all morning.
News that a friend of Julie's just learned of her death just sent all of us back into new waves of grief.

Grief is like that.

It assaults you, the griever, when you least need or want its presence in your life.
Today, my bereavement feels as fresh as newly fallen snow.
Bereavement ~ to be torn apart.

I mourn anew.

…mourning is the outward expression of grief.

So what am I to learn about love  on this day dedicated to love?

I've learned that I am shifting and moving to a new place.

I am moving from the relationship of the presence of my dearly loved daughter being in my daily life
the place where
I have a deeper relationship with the memory of her.

I see the photo above and I smile.

I remember an exchange with her about the photo and the heart that she claimed Phoenix drew for her in the snow.

I am learning that my love for her has only gotten stronger as time passes.

The loved one lives on in the heart of the one who loved him or her so deeply.

For me, my love for my daughter is always fresh and new.

Not all memories of her are happy.

Sometimes, the memories are filled with anger, pain, and deep sorrow.
Other memories make me laugh.
Some memories of her fill me with so much pride.
Memory honors the loved one best when it remembers them as they really were.

The memories of Julie are sharp at times, and blurred at other times.

I no longer focus on the death of my daughter as much I remember her life.

This is a healing place to be.

Silly picture of Julie making faces with Phoenix

I feel blessed because Julie was so deeply loved by so many.

She had so many friends.
They continue to love her.
The memory of her has not died.

Oh, how I wish she were still here making memories with us,

but, she is not.

She remains safely sealed with  love in my heart.

Love is stronger than death.

Love remains.


Barb said...

So moving, Sally. Memories and realities of different loves - and how they survive. Happy Valentine's Day to you and Jim.

Betsy Adams said...

Beautiful post, Sally.. I love both photos of you and Jim. Such an incredible couple --and an inspiration to all... Happy Valentines Day my Friends.

rosaria williams said...

Love remains!!!!

KathyA said...

Yes, it does -- much longer than any of us do.

I am impressed by your strength and resolve. Blessings, Kathy

thisisme said...

Love us stronger than death. Love remains, and that is so true Sally. I love the two photos of you and Jim, and I wish you both love on this Valentine's death. Grief does, indeed, creep up on us when we are least expecting it. Julie looks so happy in that photo of her with Phoenix. I pray that she is at peace, and I pray for your continued healing.

DJan said...

How very beautiful this is, Sally. It amazes me how much more I learn about love every day, every year that goes by. People come and people go, but our love is forever. Happy Valentine's Day to you and your Beloved. :-)

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

What a beautiful testament to love, Sally! In real life, there is so much sorrow and anger and pain mixed in with our love relationships -- and well as giving each other strength, courage and sweet memories.

Elizabeth Cutter said...

Oh, Sally, how moving this is! Thank you for sharing with us. You have paid dearly for such wisdom, but how wonderful that you have had a partner like Jim to walk and learn alongside you. You are never far out of my prayers for continuing healing and comfort.

A Quiet Corner said...

Love is, after all, eternal!...:)JP

Keicha Christiansen said...

No words, just a big lump in my throat. You said it all so well.

She is so, so loved and so deeply missed.

Terra said...

Love is strong, stronger than death. Bless you.

Linda said...

I am so glad you shared the Michael Card song. It is beautiful and I had never heard it before. I loved the picture of you and Jim right after you were married. It reminded me of how we were in college!

Vagabonde said...

I was listening to your song – I did not know it and am pleased you shared it on your post – it is lovely. Your post is also full of happy and sad feelings, and such sincere and true thoughts about love – it is very moving. I wish you and your husband a happy Valentine.

LC said...

Such a moving reminder of the path of enduring love.

Linda Reeder said...

What beautiful relationships you describe, with your husband and your daughter. The first one grows and the latter transcends.

Linda Myers said...

This is a day for love and memories. Thinking of you, Sally.

Jackie said...

A beautiful love story you've shared.
May I ask...Where is Phoenix now?
Sending you love, Sally.

Sue Tell said...

It is a story of deep companionship. Love that wisdom. Memory honors best by remembering them as they were. Yes hard wisdom to bless many like me. Thank you for grieving out loud.

Olga said...


Terri Tiffany said...

Your words are touching and I can say that your daughter was richly blessed to have you as her mom.

Tom Sightings said...

Very nice reflections. And nice photo from 1992 -- boy oh boy, 1992 doesn't seem that long ago, does it?

Joanne said...

I wrote more, then deleted it because this post keeps urging me to leave just one word.....Beautiful.

God Bless you and your loves,

Jeanie said...

This post brings me so very close to tears on any number of levels -- It is indeed a perfect expression of love -- all love -- and how it changes but does not die even with loss. And how time makes one all the closer if we are indeed lucky enough to love as you have.

Jeanie said...

This post brings me so very close to tears on any number of levels -- It is indeed a perfect expression of love -- all love -- and how it changes but does not die even with loss. And how time makes one all the closer if we are indeed lucky enough to love as you have.

Linda P. said...

What a special picture of Julie you chose for this post. I did not know her, but this photo certainly conveyed something of her personality, explaining why she had so many friends and why they continue to love her, too, along with her family. How you must miss her.

Deb Shucka said...

You've captured love here in all its best glory. Reading about where you are with Julie was comforting to me, and I love how you've found happiness in the realities of the loves in your life. I'm so blessed to be your friend.

Rose said...

A beautiful post, Sally, and so wise. Love is not that consuming passion we thought of when teenagers, but so much more. You and Jim are so fortunate to have found each other--I wish you many more years of happiness together. And even more, I wish you continued healing.

Friko said...

Poor dear Sally, joy and sadness, sadness and joy, always so close together.

But isn’t that what living means? we take it all, we learn to live with pain and love, our memories of both alternating.

I wish you well.

Kay said...

This is so beautiful, Sally. You have so much love in your life and are blessed with a loving family that supports each other. Your love story with Jim is the most precious, treasured kind.

Perpetua said...

Such a touching reflection and tribute to two special relationships in your life. Your marriage to Jim has been such a huge blessing for you. This and your wonderful family must have been your bedrock, helping you to cope when Julie died.