Chris Keane, Kitty's cousin, died Tuesday from pancreatic cancer after being diagnosed six weeks earlier. We didn't even know he was sick. As so often happens, life intervenes and we had lost touch. Chris was about the same age as Kitty, much too young to die. I'm at the age now where everyone else seems much too young.
Chris was always a sweetheart. I can't think of any other word to describe him. We'd see him at family weddings and funerals and, once a year, at a family get-together at a lakeside cottage in Lunenberg, Massachusetts. Always smiling, always friendly, always doting on his three kids, always taking time for the other kids who were there. There was an annual ritual with the kids in which he would deconstruct the home-made fruit salad. Chris was a good guy.
Today is Valentine's Day with all it's commercial emphasis on cards and candy and flowers and romance. (And, as one friend put it, today is Singles Awareness Day, to be followed by Half-Price Chocolates Day.) For me, though, today is about love. Romance is part of it, but, at its heart, Valentines Day is about those you love and those you have loved.
Today is a day for my sister, who passed away a few months ago and whom I think of every day. And for my father, gone for more than thirty years. And for my mother. And for Kitty's parents. And her older brother. And for Chris. And for aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and friends who have passed. Today is the day to remember that we loved them all and to be grateful that we were gifted with their presence for whatever short time we were allowed.
Today is the day for those we love. Today is Kitty's day. My love for her deepens every moment I am with her. Today is the day for my daughters, who will always be at the intersection of Love and Pride. And for my grandchildren -- four amazingly beautiful, creative, loving gifts to the world. Today is the day I am reminded of my love for my brother and for Kitty's brothers, for our nieces and nephews and cousins. Today is the day for the children we have fostered, good and bad. Friends and family...today, as with every other day, is the day to love them all. Today is the day to love the laughter from a schoolyard, to love the glint of sunlight shining through the trees, to love the breeze that ruffles your hair, to love the shy smile of a stranger that you pass on the street. Sometimes the ones we love can frustrate us and drive us crazy, but the love remains strong. That's the wonder of it all.
For whatever strange or arcane reason we were put on this earth, today is the day to glory in being here with those we love and to have been here with those we loved. Today is the day for love. And it doesn't get any better than that.