My Valentine

by Guest Contributor

Columban Lay Missionary Lilibeth Sabado lives and works in Hong Kong. Today, on Valentine's day she reflects on the meaning of love having said goodbye to her father 13 years ago on the 14th February.

Many countries around the world today celebrate Valentine’s Day.  I suppose you will agree with me when I say that this day is loaded with commercialism. Every place seems to be packed with lovers; this day usually is filled with special meals, dinner for two, special shows and concerts, roses and chocolates, jewellery, stuffed toys, heart shaped- desserts, cards, balloons and romantic gifts of various kinds. Had it not been for Covid restrictions, there would be traffic congestion everywhere, fully booked restaurants and so on.  I must admit that all these Valentine commotions used to thrill me a lot. When I was younger, Valentine’s Day was special, somehow magical, and I can see how people get wrapped up in the event.

Thirteen years ago, a few days before February 14th, my siblings and I were planning and preparing for a special but unconventional Valentine celebration. There was to be flowers and food involved, there were friends and relatives planning to visit and we felt their love.  This year however, we wanted the day to be extra special because we were celebrating the gift of life. On this day we were saying goodbye to the man who taught us how to love. On Valentine’s Day 2008, we sent Dad to his final resting place.  On this day we buried our valentine, my mom’s valentine, my valentine and the man I loved best on earth. His departure on earth was sad yet inevitable. Whenever I think of Dad, however, I am comforted in the belief that he is not totally gone. I do not see him physically but I continue to give to others the love that he showed me. I think of love, I give love and I know he is there and I feel him in my heart. I continue to miss him every day but I look forward to the day when I will meet him again, and I believe for sure what a day of rejoicing it will be. Love never dies. Love bears all things. Love is free.  Love is the most powerful force on earth.

As I grow older, I see things differently. The material things, the presents and the romantic gestures that used to excite me when I was younger have been replaced by something more focused, something more palpable, tangible and deep.  As I journey through the second half of my life, I see every day as Valentine’s Day. I see each day as magical.  I say so because the fact that I wake up each day is indeed a gift of love. The day of love no longer exist just one day a year, but every day for it is an opportunity to show love to everyone around me. This love is no longer an exclusive one but an inclusive affection given to everyone that I come to encounter. The world is never short of love as long as we continue to give it freely and unconditionally. If we continue to give love, then what a lovely world we will have.

Happy Valentine’s Day!