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In the Same Breath

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. For many it was filled with joy and gratitude, and celebrations of love (which often include chocolate). But for others it was a holiday they are all too glad to have in the rearview mirror, as it was just another reminder of an empty space, loss, and grief. How we perceive is governed by the lens through which we view, which in turn is forged by personal history.

For me Valentine’s Day is both. I am extremely fortunate to be in a relationship that has lasted over 46 years and is getting stronger all the time, so yesterday was filled with joy and celebration (and yes, chocolate). But February 14th is also the anniversary of my dad’s death, and so it is tinged with loss and sorrow. Polar opposite emotions, both in the same breath.

As a writer, I want to remember that what seems paradoxical in life often isn’t, and try to create characters that are complex and authentic.

As a human being, I want to honor that complexity in everyone, no matter who they are or what their personal history may be. It’s a Valentine’s gift of compassion I can give any day of the year.