My grandmother had passed, and I was trying to get to her funeral in Chicago. I made it as far as St. Louis when a wicked deep-winter storm grounded all flights. Just before the massive stoppage,, some flights managed to make it into the airport. This was before security measures made it impossible for people to greet flights. So, besides passengers getting off of planes and streaming into the airport, there were lots of people waiting for them and, as it was Valentine’s Day, these greeters had huge bouquets of flowers, boxes of chocolates, and very enthusiastic embraces for their arriving loved ones.
I knew my flight to Chicago was already canceled, and I had as yet not been able to get a hotel room. The flurry of loving greetings all around me was in stark contrast to my own situation – alone, nowhere to stay, chilled, and mourning a loss. Oh, my, it was not a comfortable situation to say the least. And it got worse. I was finally able to get a reservation at a nearby hotel. Through blinding snow, I made my way to the place, only to find that the room they gave me was actually a storage closet filled floor to ceiling with old telephones leftover from a remodeling! The next room was all right, but I discovered it had been double-booked when a strange man used a key and walked right in just as I’d begun to get settled in! (The front desk said, “Oh, sorry,” and gave him a different room…)
By the time snow had cleared and flights resumed, it was too late to get to my grandmother’s funeral. So, I opted for a flight to central Illinois, where my family was gathering after the mass and burial farther north. We were a bedraggled sight, but glad to be reunited.
Then, the telephone rang. A cousin’s husband had died suddenly in yet another city. Funeral arrangements were in the making. And travel plans for some were being revised again. But this time, unlike my experience in St. Louis, we were together and there was great comfort in being so.
All of this was before my diagnosis with lupus. But this experience still teaches me about how wonderful being with loved ones is, no matter the circumstances. Through storms, deaths, misdirected travel – all roads lead to the love of people who know us well, appreciate who we are, and care. I was mighty alone on that Valentine’s Day, and feeling emotionally low. But even so, by traveling through that chilly storm, my heart found comfort.
This weekend, celebrate Valentine’s Day with dear ones far and near, no matter how alone you might be feeling. It doesn’t have to take a big bouquet of flowers or chocolate, but only presence, attention, appreciation, and love.
Joy and peace,