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My Funny Valentine

"I have loved you with an everlasting love..." (Jeremiah 31:3)

Growing up, I was the only girl out of six kids - yes, totally outnumbered, so my Dad always did something extra special for me on Valentine's Day. I knew when I awoke on the morning of each February 14th, without a doubt, something fun would be in store for me that day. I would go off to school and agonize - watch the slow-ticking clock. I could not wait until the bell rang and the bus finally stopped and I could run home to see what my Dad had done.

There was always a heart-box of chocolates, just for me. There was always a card, just for me. And, there was always one other treat like a stuffed animal or toy, or piece of jewelry, just for me. They were never expensive, but value is not found on a price tag. What they told me was "I thought of you, dear daughter, in a special way today. I see you and you matter to me". That meant the world to a little girl who many times got lost in the crazy boy-shuffle and scuffle that often took over our house.

Today, on our day, I sit here with eyes closed, and remember has been eight years tomorrow that my sweet Dad passed away. I remember he always did funny things that made us laugh. He was a joke teller, an army veteran, a hardworking postal worker and a kind man of high integrity.

He also loved to play. I remember the summertime games in the backyard that he would gather us all up for and the card games around the dinner table after the meal was eaten and cleared. And, on this special winter holiday, I remember the silly cards he would give and the way he made me feel; his beloved daughter.

When this day rolls up on the calendar it always pulls on my heart strings extra tight, touching on a set apart place reserved for him alone. Not only for what today meant as a child to me, but as I became all grown up and moved into my own busy life with work and mortgage payments, husband and kids. Even so, my Dad never forgot Valentine's Day. I always got a special card from him still, just for me.

The only exception was Valentine's Day of 2013. His health was declining fast and we all understood what was coming. And, even harder to accept; what was going away. The red-alert warning signal I saw loud and clear that nobody else did was: I did not receive a card from him that week and, knowing him, I knew his time must be very, very near.

The only reason he would forget and be unable to mark our special day was: He absolutely couldn't, he was dying. I went to see him every day that final, cold week. On our very last Valentine's Day, he was too tired and his body too weak to talk long, even too weak for laughter, his very favorite thing. I sat with him on his bed, held his thinned hand in mine and read him a poem I had written, just for him. Full circle had come to a close. Now I was doing for him what he did for me for so many years - telling him I saw him, loved him, and how much he mattered to me.

I told my sweet daddy as I held on for one more moment, that when he is ready, he should go. I let him know we would miss him and always love him, but that we would be alright, and to not hold off eternity for any of us if he knew the time had come. He looked up, met my sad eyes and slowly nodded, and told me he needed to sleep. I left, wondering with a broken heart if this nap would be his last. On our day. Our very last Valentine's Day.

He held on for the calendar to turn - just once more.

I often think he probably strained, waiting just one more day, so that February 14 could forever remain a good-filled-memory day for me. That is the type of Dad he was. He would bear pain to save us from it. February 15th would be the day he went to Heaven, he made sure of that.

Now, on this day each year I pause to remember him a little more than I usually do and feel his love extra deep. Thank you Dad for being my constant valentine and making your daughter understand how much you loved her, not just on this day but every day.

And thank You Father God for being the One who loves us with an everlasting love and Who made a way through Christ to the eternal place, just for us, your beloved children, where we can join those again that loved you and us so well here. That is the Father's love for us all; one that is each and every day, we do not have to wait for a certain day, it is beating loud for each heart now.

It is True-love's greeting card to us saying "Daughter, Son; I have loved you then, I love you now, I will always love you, never doubt that." - Your Heavenly Father

So friend, this Valentines Day and each day beyond, relish and soak in the truth that you are not forgotten in the mix, but individually adored, thought of as special, and loved with a love that never, ever ends.

Question: Who in your life has loved you extra special? Do you know how much God loves you now and forever?

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