Dear Annie: Each Valentine's Day, I am filled with incredible sadness. Two years ago, my husband and I were expecting our first baby girl. Her due date was Valentine's Day, and we were so thrilled with love and excitement at the arrival of our baby girl. Her name was going to be Valentine.
Sad to say, Valentine was born Feb. 14 as a stillbirth. It was without a doubt the most difficult day of my husband's and my lives. We have since given birth to a beautiful boy, who has brought us joy and hope, but we will never forget our sweet Valentine. My husband and I have gone through lots of grief counseling together, and it has helped tremendously. But every Valentine's Day serves as a reminder. How can we move past this? -- Heartbroken on Valentine's Day
Dear Heartbroken: I am so sorry for your loss. Words cannot begin to do your grief justice. The very fact that you and your husband took the steps necessary to heal is incredible. I'm not sure that you will ever completely heal. My guess is that there was life before you lost Valentine and there is now a sort of different understanding of life after her.
You sound like an amazing mother, wife and overall human being. Thank you for sharing your story. As best you can, try to let the love of your sweet Valentine fill you up. Her spirit remains with you and your family. Your letter made me think of what the real meaning of love is. One of my favorite poems comes to mind, and I will share it with you. It is widely known as "Footprints." Its author has been disputed:
One night I dreamed a dream.
I was walking along the beach with my Lord. Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me, I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that at many times along the path of my life, especially at the very lowest and saddest times, there was only one set of footprints. This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said once I decided to follow You, You'd walk with me all the way. But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life, there was only one set of footprints. I don't understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me."
He whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you, never, ever during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."
I want to wish you and all of my readers a very happy Valentine's Day. Life is like a sailboat. Sometimes it is smooth sailing, and sometimes the weather is choppy and bumpy. For you, my sweet mother, Valentine's Day will always be a choppy one, but I hope you can find a bit of comfort in knowing that the love you feel for baby Valentine is true love. What I mean by "true love" is best summed up in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."
Love is all around you. May you never feel completely alone and always know that you are loved.