I remember sitting next to my dad’s bed in the emergency room while nurses and technicians rushed
in and out,
in and out,
in and out.
I didn’t notice much of the chaos around me; I just stared at my dad’s chest and held my breath as I begged for him to take another one.
I remember feeling a lot of things at that moment, but the biggest, deepest, most visceral and innate feeling I had was love.
Unconditional love. The kind of love that overpowers the anger that he hasn’t been taking care of himself lately, the kind of love that envelops the regret that maybe I should have done this or that or the other thing that keeps creeping in to the dusty back corner of my brain.
The kind of love that promises to
and love even more than I ever thought I was capable of only minutes before my whole world turned upside down.
The kind of love that is felt so deep and raw and instinctive that it cannot be felt without also bringing forth a lot of pain.
Unbearable, unimaginable pain.
The begging, hoping, praying, bartering.
The pain that is felt in the deepest core of your being.
The pain that reminds us just how much this matters.
How much they matter.
Sometimes it’s having it all and losing everything completely,
other times it’s the almost losing something completely that helps you realize you already have it all.
Either way, it is the deep pain and the even deeper love that help us navigate the path that follows.
I have learned that the truest form of unconditional love cannot exist without also introducing us to the shadow of pain that surrounds it.
Love doesn’t always hurt, but sometimes it must.
I don’t mean the perpetuation of abuse or the notion that love must hurt to be real.
But I do mean that sometimes it’s the hurt, the fear of loss, and the agony that occurs when love leaves that helps us know just how much it mattered.
I will never forget the feeling I had in that hospital room, staring at my biggest hero, vulnerable, weak, and pleading, while promising so many things if I could just keep him for a little bit longer.
I didn’t get my wish, but I’ve learned I can still keep my promise.
Not because it’s a Tuesday and we should celebrate Valentine’s day, but because it’s a Tuesday and every single day gives us a chance to tell people how much they matter while we still can.
To try harder,
and love even more than we ever thought we were capable of.
Because we never know when our time or their time or this time will end.
Because life is too short to guard our hearts and because dogs might be on to something by going crazy with joy every time someone they love walks into a room, even if they just saw them moments before.
I hope that no matter where you are, no matter what you are doing, whether your heart is in one piece or one million,
I hope you let yourself feel something that matters.
I hope you know what it means to matter
To someone else
And someone else to you.