Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, 14 February. And I am wondering tonight, how am I going to celebrate it with her? Now some may urge me to refrain from such pagan celebration because it has nothing to do with love. It is too commercialized to comingle with the love between a husband and wife. In fact, it is a day where the only people laughing all the way to the bank are the capitalists and the vogue merchants. Still, others may say that that day has nothing to do with love but death instead.
Valentine's day, it is rumored, has its origin with St Valentine of Rome, a martyr, who was executed because he officiated weddings for soldiers who were not supposed to be married, and he ministered to Christians under persecution. Before he died, he prayed for his jailer's daughter and she received her healing and he wrote her a note bidding farewell with this sign-off, "Your Valentine."
Wow, it seems like tomorrow is a loaded day if the naysayers had their way. Alas, between the profit marketeers and a priest who gave his life for a cause, I find myself too insignificant to consider all that heavy stuff when my sole purpose here is to make that day special for her. You can call it a lover's quirk or a passionate lark or a momentary spur but I guess life and marriage are just too short to think too much. Maybe if I mind my own business of love, the naysayers can mind theirs?
I will therefore leave the debate about what to do, or what not to do, on Valentine's Day to those intellectual heavyweights out there. As for me and my wife of 15 years, who gave me three lovely children, I think I'll humbly succumb to my more pedestrian (or corny) desires to spend tomorrow night with a little more flair than usual. And in order to do that, I feel I should have a cause for the celebration. This is only expected since without a reason, I may as well just celebrate it with a stranger, a friend, my son or my sister. Of course, Valentine's Day is not restricted just for couples, but let's stick to my point here about making it special for her.
So, what cause do I have for this simple, unassuming celebration? Well, it is definitely not our grand church wedding for which more than 800 attended. Neither is it the expensive wedding dinner at a Chinese restaurant 15 years ago. I guess it is also not the time I proposed to her overseas, that is, at the middle of the connecting bridge between Harbor Front and Sentosa. I recall that I was on my knees (in the middle of passing cars, broad daylight), and waiting for her to say yes. It was a wait of eternity for me. Come to think of it, I don't know which was worse, my pained knee or the sting of embarrassment. And since I am at it, it is also not the wonderful honeymoon we had in the South of New Zealand for 10 days where we drove in a rented car, chased horizons, listened to cassette tape reruns of Savage Garden, and made cumbersome love because we were clumsy virgins. Too much information?...sorry.
So, if I have a cause or two to celebrate Valentine's Day with her, I think this should be it: Because I would do it all over again with her in a heart beat.
Now, I am saying this with great circumspection because our love is not just about the grand wedding celebration or the unforgettable honeymoon. They are just a tip of a huge marital iceberg. You see, what lies beneath the still water is anything but still. The coming of the three children, one after another, is in fact the metaphorical convergence of the perfect storm. But nevertheless, we soldiered on. I guess the labor in the womb is one thing and the labor post-womb is quite another thing altogether.
Then, there are the quarrels, the misunderstanding, the tears of joy and disappointments, the uncertainty, the disillusionment, and the occasional yearning to be alone. They are all part and parcel of a long and enduring marriage. Despite all that, we soldiered on.
We took everything in our stride, pushing forward with one heart after our flaws were exposed in the mundane domesticity of living together, and we soldiered on. And although the scriptural benediction that "the two shall be one" might not be complete, it is nevertheless completing.
During the ensuing years, we shared joy together and pains. We went cold turkey on each other and relished the growing gains. We also had our marital misgivings and yet we would gladly do it all over again. In other words, she is special not because she said "I do" to me at the altar but because we say "we do" to each other every day thereafter. It is a daily reality that calls for conscious daily affirmation. Marriage is therefore a lifetime affair and not just a one night toast.
So, this Valentine's Day has many causes for a simple celebration just for the two of us (without the intermeddling offspring of course). It is a day to tell her - in case she didn't hear it the first time due to the clanging of champagne glasses - that I love her. And it is not a love that can be commercialized by a bouquet of roses, a box of Lindt chocolates or a romantic candle-lit dinner by the shores. Those things do not a love make for nothing of the superficial can add or subtract to love.
If anything, it is foremost a celebration of two hearts making a lifetime commitment to love unceasing till death. And if the marital vows is ever flawed, and if I should ever be so nitpicking about it, it would be to not make it clear enough that there is indeed unsurpassed joy in loving the same person over and over again, even for a lifetime. For how does a lifetime be enough to those who crave for more than a lifetime to love no one but the same person? Such is reason enough to celebrate a union that is vulnerable yet resilient, flawed yet forgiving, and imperfect yet perfecting.
So, Anna I love you for loving me. It is a love that is dynamic and unconditional. It is a love that entertains no delusions. It is also a love that sustains and prods us on to deeper understanding, passion and hope. You made my day the day you said I do and you have made my days ever since for being so true. Love unsparing. Love most undeserving. Your husband. Your lover. Your Valentine. Cheerz.