For the first time in eight years, I thought more about love on February 14, than I did about sadness.
Sadness typically gets my attention because Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day coincides with Valentine’s Day (yes, on purpose, because of all the hearts). As a result, every year since Riley was born, heart defects have held my attention on February 14. I've written about it a lot too. I wrote about it here, here, here, here, and here.
But this year, even though sadness occasionally keeps me up at night, my Valentine's Day was filled with heart-shaped pancakes, flowers, a lunch date, making Valentine's cards for my kids, swimming lessons, friends, dancing, and the post-dancing ritual of dark chocolate dipped in peanut butter. I think part of the reason it's easier to focus on the good stuff is because Riley is stable and close to an important milestone. On his 8th birthday in April, he will be four years removed from his last operation. That’s half his life ago. But also, I’m settled and happy. It easier to focus on good stuff when surrounded by other good stuff.
The idea of combining Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day with Valentine’s Day is cleaver (yes, because of all the hearts). And it encourages people who don’t have CHD in their lives to think about it one day out of the year and possibly do something (if you really want to know, click one of those links above to find out what you can do). But for me, every single day is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day.
It was almost midnight before I thought about it. It wasn't a conscious choice. That doesn't mean I forgot about what we've been through or what is to come. But it was a gift to just enjoy my lovely and love-filled day. I think all the parents of kids with heart defects need a day to just be in love with their kids, in love with their friends, in love with their lovers. Valentine's Day seems like the perfect choice. So I'm letting go of CHD Awareness Day and I’m giving myself permission to keep February 14 as my day off. Indefinitely.