By Ashley McIlwain
Personally I’m a fan of Valentine’s Day. Not because I love the commercial craziness of it with all of the overpriced flowers and candy, oversized cards, and overcrowded restaurants. No, what I love is that it gets people thinking about the ones they love and how to express that love. It’s a day of romance, creativity, and thoughtfulness, and I enjoy that. This year, I was excited to celebrate with my hubs, but things didn’t go quite as we had expected …
“Honey, I don’t feel so hot.” My husband walked in the door the night before Valentine’s Day looking tired and weak. As the night progressed, so did his symptoms. Chills, coughing, achiness. It wasn’t looking good, and I was concerned.
Despite not feeling well, Steve headed out to work in the morning because of a huge, important meeting he had to be at. I protested but ultimately was overruled. So, I stocked his arms with Lysol, Airborne, herbal tea, tissues, and cough drops followed by a prayer. I told him that if he starts to feel worse in the slightest to go to the doctor.
Thursdays are our weekly lunch dates, which worked perfectly with Valentine’s Day falling on Thursday this year. I had painted my nails, curled my hair, and put on my new pink blouse ready for our V-Day lunch date. Then I got the text.
Steve had headed to urgent care as his symptoms were getting worse. I rushed to meet him there all dolled up, and sure enough, the doctor confirmed he had the flu. After getting some meds and instructions to rest, we walked out the medical center realizing that our Valentine’s Day wasn’t going to be quite what we had planned.
Our romantic night in with a candlelit dinner handcrafted by amazing chef of a husband was now a thing of the past. The pink iced cupcakes with heart confetti I had whipped up that morning were no longer needed. All of the planned romance of the night was suddenly crumbling before our eyes thanks to that pesky flu attacking my poor hubs.
At first glance, our Valentine’s Day was ruined. A complete disaster. A disappointment. Or was it?
Sure, the traditional thrill of V-Day was lost, but not the heart of it, which is love. Really this day is a reminder to show some love, and love is about more than feeling good or being served. Love is a choice, and it’s something so much more special than flowers or chocolates. Love is being there for the one you love when they need you the most. This was my perfect opportunity to display love to my sick hubs.
Instead of some fancy dinner, I whipped up some Spaghetti-O’s and hot dogs at the request of my “patient.” I cut out some toast in the shape of hearts and threw it on the plate with his dinner, which I served to him in bed on a tray. I crawled in bed with him, and we just watched a movie side by side that night. As I played nurse and tended to anything he needed, I found myself surprised by the unlikely romance of the night.
Seeing your spouse vulnerable and needing you is incredibly romantic. Looking into their hurting eyes and letting them know you’re there is superbly romantic. Caring for and loving your spouse without any demands or expectations of reciprocation is the best kind of romance. Romance lives in the moments where love is present. Love that stands the test of time and puts the needs of someone else first. That is romance.
Yes, romance is candles, date nights, and sweet gestures. But what I learned this Valentine’s Day is that those things just scratch the surface. Romance at its best is loving someone because you choose to. As I played nurse to my weak and feeble husband, I couldn’t help but feel the romance. Tending to him, showing him how much I love him, tossing our plans and expectations out the window just to make sure he had what he needed felt good. I knew that’s what is at the heart of loving someone – being present.
Hopefully when Steve is back on his feet, we can have a belated Valentine’s Day celebration, but for now, I’m enjoying just loving him and remembering my commitment of “in sickness and in health.” Besides, those moments of selfless love reveal an unlikely romance that you can’t buy or order. It’s a romance that touches and warms your heart deeply and unforgettably.