I am sitting downstairs in the living room watching Dolphin Tale 2 in the dark, with my three sleeping kids around me–ages seven, four, and two. In the quiet, with the volume turned down, I can hear their hushed breathing and it makes me want to cry. Their hurting hearts are beating out rhythms that my own understands. Their world is changing in ways that they do and don’t understand, but are certainly not prepared to deal with. Their home is breaking up. Their parents are not together anymore. It is all so new and strange and hurtful to them. And it is all things that I have felt in detail myself a long time ago. Feelings that I have grown and learned from so that they are an embedded part of who I am, but that I never expected to have to reevaluate from this position in my adult life. I find myself being a diplomat for peace. I find myself being whoever they happen to be lacking at any given moment–mother or father–yet fully knowing that I can never truly measure up to either. I find myself close to tears on their behalf, wanting to be able to just pick everything up with my own two hands and put it all in its proper place again. To be able to so simply fix their lives. But I cant. All I can do is love them with all of my heart and sympathize with every fiber of my being and my full personal knowledge of what they are feeling. But it’s hard. One moment I feel like I’m doing a good job, or at least doing the best that I can. But then ten or fifteen minutes later, one of them will say something or react to something that takes my breath away. Suddenly I find myself thinking that surely there must be something else that I can do. When I was told by their parents that they were splitting up, I was given a choice. I didn’t have to stay. I could look for another job. But I was assured that, if I did stay, this previously unforeseen situation would not change my work. But that’s impossible. It takes a toll on my children–my little hearts–so deeply. And I am the one who spends each day with them. It has to take a toll on me too. But even knowing that, I could never walk out on them. As a child of divorce myself, I know the pain of someone you love walking away, and the balm of stability in such a situation. I could never leave them. Some days I don’t have a clue what to say to them or how to act around them. Sometimes, when they start crying, I just want to sit down next to them and cry too. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there are days like that still to come. But that is the most important thing–crying or smiling, I will be there with them. I could never be anywhere else. And that is why I’m sitting up in a room filled with the sound of gentle snoring, watching a cheesy movie. Because I need to be here with them. No matter how much we are all hurting, I don’t want to be anywhere else.
“There once was a mighty queen in whose garden grew the most beautiful flowers. Every season there were some in bloom, and they had been collected in all the countries of the world. But roses she loved above all flowers, and in her garden there were many kinds, from the wild hedge rose with green leaves that smell like apples to the loveliest rose of Provence. Roses grew up the walls of the castle, twined themselves around the marble columns, and even entered the halls and corridors of the castle, where their ramblers crept across the ceilings and filled the rooms with the fragrance of their flowers.
But inside the castle sorrow lived, for the queen was dying. The wisest of all the doctors who were attending her said, ‘There is only one remedy that can save her. Bring her the world’s most beautiful rose, the one that symbolizes the highest and purest love, and when her eyes see that flower, then she will not die.’
The young and the old brought their roses–the most beautiful ones that grew in their gardens–but it was not such a flower that could cure the queen. From love’s garden the rose must be brought, but which flower would be the symbol of the highest and purest love? The poets sang of the world’s most beautiful rose, and each mentioned a different one. Word was sent to all, regardless of rank and class, whose hearts did best for love.
‘No one has as yet mentioned the right flower,’ said the wise man. ‘No one has pointed to that place where it grows, in all its glory and beauty. It is not the rose from Romeo’s and Juliet’s tomb or Valborg’s grave, though those roses will always bloom and shed their fragrance in stories and poetry. Nor is it the rose that blooms on Winkelried’s blood-covered lance. From the hero’s blood, shed in defense of his native land, the reddest rose springs; and it is said that such a death is sweet, but it is not the most beautiful rose in the world. The magical wonderful rose, which can only be grown under constant care, through days and years of sleepless nights: the rose of science, it is not either.’
‘I know where it blooms,’ exclaimed a happy mother who, carrying her babe, had entered the queen’s bedchamber. ‘I know where the world’s most beautiful rose is to be found, the rose of highest and purest love. It blooms on the cheeks of my child, when he wakes from his sleep and laughs up at me, with all his love.’
‘Yes, in truth, that rose is lovely, but there are those even more beautiful,’ said the wise man.
‘Yes, far more beautiful,’ said one of the ladies in waiting. ‘I have seen it, and a more exalted, sacred rose than that does not exist. It is as pale as the petals of a tea rose and I have seen it on our queen’s cheeks when, without her golden crown, she walked, carrying her sick child in her arms, back and forth across the room one whole long night. She kissed her babe and prayed to God as only a mother prays in her agony.’
‘Yes, wonderful and holy is the white rose of sorrow, but that is not the one.’
‘No, the world’s most beautiful rose I saw before the altar of Our Lord,’ a pious old priest said. ‘I saw it shine on an angel’s face. Among a group of young girls who had come to take communion, there was one who looked with such simple and innocent love up toward her God that on her face bloomed the rose of highest and purest love.’
‘Blessed is that rose too,’ said the wise man. ‘But none of you has yet mentioned the world’s most beautiful rose.’
At that moment into the room stepped a little boy, the queen’s son. His eyes were filled with tears and he was carrying a big book with silver clasps and bound in vellum. The book was open.
‘Mother!’ Said the little one. ‘Listen to what I have read.’ And the child sat down by his mother’s bedside and read about Him who suffered death on the Cross in order to save humanity. ‘Greater love there cannot be.’
The queen’s pale cheeks took on a pinkish shade, and her eyes became big and clear, as from the pages of the book grew the world’s most beautiful rose, the one that grew from Christ’s blood on the cross.
‘I see it,’ she said. ‘And those who have seen that rose, the most beautiful rose in the world, shall never die.'” -Hans Christian Andersen
I am a stranger in my own house. I walk the rooms, my feet moving almost silently of their own accord. I see my long fingers touch things. Can a ghost move things? Because I can, and I do. But it registers nothing. I move about, interacting and touching, but pale, seeing nothing.
Perhaps ghosts are no more than lonely people, moving under lack of company or compassion for too long.
But small things bring me back to life. Watching a bird take flight, with a spread of delicate but strong wings; the smile of a child, full of innocent sunshine; the warm familiarity of the embrace of someone who cares, reminding me of the fluttering heart within my chest.
Does that mean that these other ghosts, these sorrowful spirits of loneliness, can also come back to life? Do they only walk as apparitions because of the weight of the knowledge that no one cares–no one has in many years.
What if you were to speak to one? Would it be as surprised as you? And beyond just speaking, what if you came back? What if you kept at it? Would a transformation take place before your eyes, almost too gradual to see?
The eyes will become fixed, animated, finally able to see. The transparent and insignificant will become not only significant, but meaningful. Color will rise. Breath will be drawn and air will be tasted. And then, one day, a hand will find your own, warm and inviting, pulsing with life. The solid fingers will squeeze, shy and hesitant at first, until feeling fills the void and arms, like bands of tender strength, are wrapped around you in gratitude of the new life you have given.
Ghosts are only people, after all.
“I love you truly, truly dear,
Life with its sorrow, life with its tear
Fades into dreams when I feel you are near
For I love you truly, truly dear.
Ah! Love, ’tis something to feel your kind hand
Ah! Yes, ’tis something by your side to stand;
Gone is the sorrow, gone doubt and fear,
For you love me truly, truly dear.”
Happy Valentine’s Day
Go tell someone you love them
It’s no secret around here that I love Valentine’s Day. I think people who are anti-VDay are crazy! How can you hate a day all about telling people you love them? Granted, I completely agree that we shouldn’t need one specific day of the year to do that–we should remember to do it on a regular basis. I just don’t understand how some people can expend so much energy in protest of a day that could be so awesome if they’d only adopt a more positive mindset.
I love Valentine’s Day.So, in honor of the day of love, I thought I’d share a post that I did last year in honor of VDay on my other website.
Did You Know:
– St. Valentine’s Day dates all the way back to 270 AD
– In the Middle Ages, young people would draw names to see who their valentine was. They would then pin the name to their sleeve and wear it there for a week.
– Red roses are correlated with love and Valentine’s Day because they were the supposed favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love.
– Valentine’s Day is only celebrated in 8 countries: Canada, Mexico, UK, Australia, Denmark, Italy, USA, and (of course) France.
– 19th Century doctors actually used to prescribe the eating of chocolate for patients who were sad, or melancholy.
– The first country where giving or sending paper valentine hearts or cards became immensely popular was in England, during the Victorian Era (which is also when/where Christmas cards came into fashion).
– Before the mass production of valentines became feasible and popular, people would spend money to buy expensive handmade valentines of real lace and ribbon.
“The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of Heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single,
All things by a law divine
In one spirit mix and mingle–
Why not I with thine?
See the mountains kiss high Heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea–
What are all these kissings worth
If thou kiss not me?”
Percy Bysshe Shelley
“Kisses are a better fate than wisdom?”
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
-Charles M. Schulz
“Who, being loved, is poor?”
“Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs.”
“We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we pair up with them and fall into mutual satisfying weirdness–and call it love–true love.”
Click HERE to read exactly why I love Valentine’s Day.
“Just fall in love with me this Christmas.
There’s nothing else that we will need this Christmas.
Won’t be wrapped under a tree,
I want something that lasts forever
Cause I don’t wanna be alone tonight.
I’ll wear you like a Christmas sweater,
Walk you proudly to the mistletoe tonight.
I want something to last forever,
So kiss me on this cold December night.
They call it the season of giving;
I’m here, I’m yours for the taking.
They call it the season of giving;
I’m here, I’m yours.”
“People tell me there will come a time when your heart and mine will grow cold. No more staring at the evening sky. Low replaces high when you’re old. As long as you’re around I’ll follow you. You won’t ever be alone. As long as you’re around I’ll follow you, and I will be wherever you go.
They say the future is our enemy. Time eventually will set the sun. But I believe in you and you believe in me. How can we ever go wrong? As long as you’re around I’ll follow you. This heart is never going to break. As long as you’re around I’ll follow you, and I will give whatever this love takes…
So in the hours of the darkest kind, when it’s hard to find who we are, one can stare into the other’s eyes–be each other’s light in the dark. As long as you’re around I will follow you. You won’t ever be alone. As long as you’re around I will follow you, and I will be wherever you go.”