The winds started again last night. I woke at one a.m. to the sound of their sweep across the meadow. We lost an old willow tree in the last storm and now I fear that others will bend to the breaking point.
My intimate friends know that I do not like Valentine’s Day. I suffered a personal trauma in 2014 which began on the morning of February 13th, reaching its crescendo late in the next day, and reverberating for the last five years. Like a keen cymbal, its vibration lingers. I do not begrudge anyone their own romantic celebrations. But I associate the day with devastation. In the wildly unlikely event that I ever find another partner, I will ask that we pick some other day to celebrate our passion. April 1st maybe; or December 7th. Why not redeem one of them instead? Let February 14th fend for itself.
I do not regret anything which I did for love. In fact, I take comfort in my own efforts to honor those for whom I hold a strong regard. For love, I have endured anger, cleaned vomit, climbed mountains, and sat beside sweaty beds holding bony hands. For love, I hauled garden soil and plant cuttings in a plastic tub on a luggage dolly into the locked ward of an Alzheimer’s unit so my mother-in-law could sink her hands into rich earth one last time. For love, I maneuvered my way past long lines of voters to get deputized as a voter’s assistant so my father-in-law could cast a Republican ballot and lend his voice to a landslide the day before he died. For love of my favorite curmudgeon, I wrote a long letter to Senator Pat Roberts mandating that he honor the slim reed of faith which a dying man placed in him and his colleagues.
I don’t regret a single moment. Nor do I regret getting clean, forswearing complaint, or pushing my son to any pursuit which took him away so he would not be stuck in his mother’s house. I find that any time I acted from a place of love, I chose another step in the direction of my own salvation. Love stands as both the most selfless and selfish of motivations. I embrace each end. I release the butterfly so that I may have a glimpse of its glory, however brief, however fleeting. The sight of its rise into the endless sky rewards me enough to convince my soul to endure the loss.
Under the beat of the winter rains on my metal roof, I gaze around the little home which I have created for myself here. The sun strains to glimmer through the wide bank of heavy clouds. Some might see this day as gloomy, but the earth needs the nourishment of this blessed rain. The spring crops will drink more deeply; the fall harvest will be more bountiful. I can endure a little mud for the sake of a farmer’s gain.
It’s the fourteenth day of the sixty-second month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.