Today I was thinking about my other valentine–the one who has gone away. I think of her everyday, and she so often comes and gives me little gifts just when I need them.

I cannot see her, but I know she is there.

It is at times like these that I think I might be at the beginning of contemplating the true meaning of what love really is. I remember going through a time when I felt guilty because I didn’t “love” her enough in the short time she was here. I wanted to make up for it.  After all, I had realized how short and temporary life is.

You know what they say,

“Live each day as if it’s your last.”

Only, I couldn’t.

It was way too much pressure.

Also, I found out that living each day as if it’s your last most of the time involves spoiling yourself and your children, which is fine, if it really is only for one day, but that can’t go on forever.

So, I didn’t know what to do.  I felt so guilty.  At the end of every day, I wondered if I had really lived it.   You know, like all those inspirational stories.  I didn’t go cliff dancing, visit Italy, jump off a waterfall, or go on a Disney cruise.  In fact, some days were just, well, bad.  Most were merely normal.  Then, my daughter whispered a heavenly correction to me:

Don’t live each day as if it’s your last, live it as if it’s your best.

And, that really changed everything.  I realized that love doesn’t mean praise or things or even experiences.  It is more about who you are and who you are trying to become.

I know that’s probably common knowledge for a lot of people, but for me it was a revelation.  I realized that loving better and being perfect isn’t adding more–often it is the opposite:

Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.

So, now, instead of trying to convince others that I love them, I am trying to become love.

When Joy was with us, she taught us to sing.  When she returned to God, she taught us to look up.  I miss her, but she has opened my eyes to the beauty that is part of death.  She told me it’s just a short walk.

I love you, Joy. And I have finally gotten to the point where I can throw the window wide open, look up, hear the little bells, and laugh.

All men have stars, but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems… But all these stars are silent. You-You alone will have stars as no one else has them… In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars will be laughing when you look at the sky at night..You, only you, will have stars that can laugh!

And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me… You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure… It will be as if, in place of the stars, I had given you a great number of little bells that knew how to laugh.  –Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Here is a sweet video remembering Joy, and reminding us that we all must sing.