I’ve never really had a proper Valentine’s Day with a significant other. Over the years, it has become significant to me for the wrong reasons: I broke up with two ex-boyfriends on two separate Valentine’s Day. One, on the day itself, and the other, a day after. I don’t really dislike the occasion, and I did what I did with my ex-boyfriends because of immaturity and lack of good timing. I have nothing against Valentine’s Day. I just have not had a good one, I guess. Sadly.
It doesn’t mean I don’t or have never cared for it though. I remember in my childhood, I would make big and small cut-out hearts from red art paper – – – the kind they teach in preschool, but a habit I carried with me until I was in college. The heart-shaped paper cut-outs would always be filled with my notes of love and thanks, which I then decorated further with more hearts and sometimes, hearts with arrows drawn across. Those hearts I’d give to close classmate friends, while the big ones, I gave to mom and dad.
My parents will be celebrating their 42nd anniversary in June. Theirs has never been the perfect union. There had been fights – – – small and terrible ones, there had been so much tears shed, and words that should not have been uttered or thought of, and there had been times when I thought they would be separating. I am so thankful they didn’t, and they never will. In fact, it was the struggles, the problems, and obstacles that made them and their union even stronger – – – that made them love each more. They held on and stuck it out despite all the struggles because of their love for us, their love for each other, and their love for the Lord.
Love. Just a couple of days ago, when dad had to undergo his prostate procedure, I witnessed yet again how strong their love is. I saw them hold each other’s hand as they prayed. I saw how mom refused to leave dad’s side as he was prepared for the procedure. I witnessed their anxieties and fear of the possibility of not being with each other anymore. I teared up at the sight of them, keeping each other in a tight embrace with the most relief and indescribable joy after being reunited again. They spent just a few hours apart, but it seemed like the longest few hours for them. A love that binds and strengthens – – – that’s what my parents have.
And that is perhaps why, despite not having an unforgettable or remarkable Valentine’s Day (yet) of my own to share, I continue to celebrate it. And why not, when I have become witness to just how great, how nurturing, how strong, and how courageous love can be – – – through my parents.
‘Ling (For Mom and Dad)
Through the darkest and murkiest of paths
Even and especially through powerful wind and rain
And the highest hikes up a sharp-edged mountain
No matter how impossible to cross and bear
Darling, we held onto each other’s hand tightly
We made each other strong – – – stronger than before
We gave each other courage – – – looking forward to each day and all its challenges
Darling, it’s never easy, but all are worthwhile with you beside me
I promise you now the same promise I gave before
To continue to be stronger when you are weak and tired
To continue to protect when you are faced with danger
To vow to always love and never let you go
To never leave your side and face every day together – – – forever and ever.