What's Love Got to Do With It?

Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday

At first it seemed an odd juxtaposition, Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday falling on the same day.

Valentine's Day is about love and lovers.

Ash Wednesday is a public reminder of humility and mortality, remembering that, "for dust you are and to dust you will return."

On second glance, though, I think the two days have a lot in common, since love requires sacrifice and humility.

Love takes so many forms.

There is the love of lovers, the love of parents and children, the love of spiritual mothers and fathers, the love of friends, the love of animals and nature, and the compassionate love we have for those we don't even know whose suffering moves our hearts...

but, love requires sacrifice of some kind, else it's just love for self-gratification, which isn't really love, is it?

Sadly, in the Merriam-Webster definition of love, it isn't until the 4th definition that love is defined as unselfish and concern for the good of another.

Hmmm...kinda makes it awesome that Valentine's and Ash Wednesday fell on the same day this year.

Valentine's is about romantic love and all the fantasy that goes along with it.

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of lent that calls for us to to make a sacrifice, reminding us of the sacrifice and humility necessary to make real love work.

I wish the English language had different words for love, like the Eskimos have for snow. I've read that the Eskimos have 50 different words for snow to distinguish the different types.

It seems odd to say, "I love pizza," to express a fondness and then use the same word to express the extreme deep love I have for my children.

But, maybe it's simply that a single word can't begin to describe the amazing feelings I have for my kids.

How can the two feelings - how I feel for pizza versus what I feel for my children or a lover - be described by the same word when the feelings, as well as the thoughts behind them, are so different?

I wouldn't throw myself in front of a bullet to save a piece of pizza.

The same can't be said for one of my kids.

Those loves are at extreme ends of the spectrum.

We lack gradations and subtleties for the word.

I would also say that I love photography.

Photography is a passion that has never left me. Is that love or something else?

I thought a lot about love yesterday.

My daughter unselfishly took in a stray cat and went to great lengths to keep the cat out of the hands of some drug addicts who had abused the poor thing.

It cost her both time and money, and she was short on both. But, she loved the cat and wanted the best for her. She couldn't stand to see her abused.

She had the cat for a year.

She loved that cat, Alley Cat, unreservedly.

She was worried about Alley last week, because she wasn't eating or doing much. She seemed lethargic.

The cat didn't seem to be getting better, so my daughter took her to the vet on Monday.

She called me Monday afternoon from the vet's office. She was sobbing her heart out.

The vet had run blood tests and said the cat only had a few days to live at most.

Alley Cat had an incredibly rare form of FLV with acute myeloid leukemia.

She was a great cat, snuggly and sweet with some sort of problem that left her unable to fully meow, which we now think was due to the FLV all along.

I went up to be with my girl Monday night and went back again early yesterday morning.

The cat died in Ellie's arms yesterday while I was there.

I've never seen my girl so heartbroken.

I cry just thinking about it.

I cry because the cat was so sweet, and it's hard to grasp death.

But, I cry more because I love my girl sooooo much that her pain is my pain, and it hurts me to see her suffering.

That's a big part of the definition of love for me - when I love someone so much that I can feel the depth of his/her pain as well as his/her joy.

What's your definition of love?

Whatever it is, I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's/Ash Wednesday!

See you between the raindrops!