Love has its prickly side- the times when love is not reciprocated, when love changes from what it began, when love does not meet the deep need of the heart. Valentine’s Day brings up not just sweet, romantic feelings that cards and candy represent, but also emotions like anguish, longing, and brokenheartedness.
February 14 was the the due date of our first baby Gabriella who ended up being born far too early and never lived to see that Valentine’s Day that we had awaited. Love has its losses that seem sometimes too much to bear.
The loss of that time has made its mark on me, and shaped me in ways that I could never have imagined. Loving Gabriella has been a lifelong adventure, with its joys and sorrows like any other relationship. It has changed me indelibly, etching its mark on my heart in a way that my other two children have also done to me. I will never forget standing at the Pacific Ocean knowing that we were going to lose our first baby, seeing the power of the ocean billow repetitively and with such strength. With my hand on my belly, I could not reconcile the power of creation, and the powerlessness that I felt and that I perceived my baby felt.
What I learned in the many years following this loss is that true love remains a part of one forever, even in different ways. To me this is testament to higher love, a love that has to do with the infinite and the universal. This higher love allows me to trust that even painful love can metamorphosize into something new with patience, persistence, and support. I hope that Valentine’s Day can commemorate that kind of love too.
Photograph used by permission from Karla Twedt-Ball, “Prickly Pear in Texas”