Obituaries and valentines: two words that one rarely sees side by side on the greeting card rack at the drugstore or on the list of options provided by online e-card companies.
Yet, for me, it is impossible not to tag these two words together.
One: because my feisty, dynamic, intelligent daughter Sara was born on Valentine's Day.
Two: because spicy red cinnamon hearts decorated every one of Sara's chocolate birthday cakes until she was old enough to say "enough already!" and switch to juicy red strawberries dipped in warm dark chocolate atop a whipped cream cake, with a glass of Scotch on the side.
Three: because as a bald, beautiful 23-year-old, dressed in a full-length red velvet haute
couture gown, Sara co-hosted the Variety Club Telethon on Valentine's Day to support the
sick kids of B.C. in spite of being in the middle of her own cancer-fighting chemo treatments.
Sara died at age 26, on July 17, 2000. That day, birth and death became forever entwined within my heart. I am not alone. As an active awareness advocate for the young adult cancer community, reading Facebook postings can be like reading the newspaper obituaries. Some days I have to drop a protective curtain between my eyes and my heart before I tap the FB icon on my phone. It is rare for a day to go by without someone mentioning the passing of another friend. To honor these young people, I take a deep breath, read the post and click LIKE or add a comment. Why? So no one faces death alone.
This Feb. 14, 2014 my heart will ache for the families and friends facing their first Valentine's Day without their loved one.
For myself, I will open my heart, breathe deeply, weep silently, and laugh outrageously, as I repeatedly push "rewind" on the precious memories of Sara that I hold safely within my mind and my heart. I will eat chocolate dipped strawberries on whipped cream cake and sip a glass of Scotch on the side. I will celebrate Sara's life as I have done ever since the day she was born. Happy Valentine's Day, Sara.