It’s February. The month of love! Is love in your air?
Love is on my mind. I’m not talking “romantic sweep me off my feet hubby love” (although I do love that kind!) Also not talking about “stare at my beautiful sleeping children in awe and adoration and forget how crazy they made me today love” (yep, guilty of that sometimes too.)
I am talking about love of life.
I had planned on blogging about magnet play today. We’ve been collecting and playing with some really cool magnets (and I promise that post is to come), but the thoughts of loving one’s life has been right in front of my face no matter where I turn for the last few weeks.
I’ll share a few examples.
A few weeks ago, our church took a turn hosting WATTS guests. WATTS is a brilliant idea of love turned into action – that helps churches in our community take turns housing the homeless through the coldest nights of winter. But “housing” seems like a generic word because what people do is much more – they cook, sweat, share, sleep, eat, and visit with guests. In a simpler explanation – they become vulnerable to what happens when we allow ourselves to have deeper exchanges than a casual “hi” as we walk by someone on the street. You know what happens when we open ourselves up, right? We usually get scared, but we also usually receive more than we anticipated. Example #1 – Lulu – with her megawatt smile, who shared the most soulful version of “This Little Light of Mine” with us in the kitchen as a thank you gesture for the meal we shared. As you can guess – not a dry eye. Example #2 – another guest – we’ll call him “Jim” who was brave enough to show up for our fairly traditional church service for weeks after his stay with us and sit next to a majority of fairly well dressed folks. He beamed as he smiled with pride and shared with me in the hall that this was his “second week here.” He was so proud.So happy.
That same week my husband Brent came home with tears in his eyes. He is a home health Occupational Therapist and had just left the home of a family where the husband has a terminal illness. He is fed through a feeding tube and kept alive by breathing with the help of a ventilator. That night before Brent left their home, the wife was preparing to tube feed her husband, but first they stopped to say grace and say thank you. They stopped to say thank you.. for a feeding tube – because it help sustain his life. This week, while we all complained about the never ending cold, snow, and ice, he was late coming home because he helped prepare her to use a generator that their friends had gifted them with in case the electric went out – so that she could keep the ventilator going, and he could keep breathing.
I talk and write often about the love of my patients and the many gifts they have given me. One special little person I have written about in the past is a friend of mine with Spinabifida. You can read more about his incredible journey HERE. When I first met him, through referral to the early intervention program that I work for, I also met two other little boys with various forms of Spinabifida. They were all born within 4 weeks of each other and all were referred to me at the same time. I knew it wasn’t a coincidence. (side note: in the 5 years since then, I have only had 1 referral for a child with Spinabifida). 3 Families with 3 different initial levels of acceptance to their sons’ diagnoses, 3 different sets of questions, expectations, hopes, and dreams. I could go on forever about this and all they taught me, but what stands out most today is the memory that one of the fathers had a long list of blunt questions regarding his then 4 weeks old infant – Will he walk? Drive a car? Play baseball? Date?. Of course, I did not have all the answers, but promised we’d do our best together to make him as independent as possible. Fast forward 5 years. These boys are school aged. Many peers their ages are starting activities and sports, and while some activities (like music, art etc) and wonderfully accessible, all sports are not. These sports loving dads did not throw in the towel. They did not accept limitations. They are starting a wheelchair basketball league. They are recruiting, finding practice space, and even finding old adult chairs so they can play with their sons.
These 3 examples are some of the purest forms of love.
Love of sharing any gift you have. Love of being welcomed and looked at as a person for the first time in a long time. Love that comes from sticking with something for the first time in a long time. Love strong enough to care for another full time. Love of a child in the highest form – acceptance.
Many kinds of love that all have one thing in common – LOVE OF LIFE.
Love of their lives.
Right where they are.
Sure, there might be a wish for something different – permanency, stability, or health – but those wishes don’t threaten that intense love of life.
It’s been cold, and icy, and snowy here for weeks. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the sun. We’ve been inside – allll together – for a reaaaaalllly long time. It’s easy to fall into winter blues and want for more. Or different. Look around. Find the bright spots – like Lulu, and “Jim,” and Brent’s patient and his wife, and my brave Dad friends. In my twenties, looking at these examples would make me feel bad or guilt ridden. I won’t lie – the day he came home, I thought, We can’t even remember to say grace every night for our healthy, warm, homemade food, that we have the luxury of chewing, tasting and swallowing….and they remember to be thankful for a feeding tube. The difference is – that in my 30’s instead of feeling bad, I feel inspired. I look to those who are bright spots to me and to my family and instead of hearing “You should do better,” I hear, “I want to try harder” and “I want to love like they do.”
As parents, and grandparents, and teachers, and therapists…like it or not…we are the example that has been given to our children. Will we choose to teach them through example to wish for more and hope for different than what we are fortunate to have? Or will we find favor with each day and be the bright spot they will remember to model after?
Go Shine friends! Spread the LOVE!