Because it’s Valentine’s Day and everyone is talking about LOVE, Glanda wanted to get in on the fun too, but while you’re probably already rolling your eyes because Valentine’s Day is kind of dumb and love is a little mushy sometimes, don’t give up on reading just yet. There’s a point!
K.T. and I met in 2012 in a church small group for young professionals. We started dating November of 2013 and we were married March of 2015. And in the 4 short years we’ve been married, we’ve faced my mom’s breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, the death of 3 special family pets, the loss of two different jobs (both mine), my diagnosis and treatment, and my rather steep climb back to physical and mental health. My poor husband truly had NO idea what he was getting into when he stood toe-to-toe with me and said “I do” on that brisk March evening.
At our reception, we kicked things off with our first dance to George Strait’s, “I Cross My Heart,” sung by my longtime friend Ryan Kinder. We had picked the song for the lyrics of course but also because I had memories of listening to it in the car with my mom when I was a little girl. K.T. and I held one another closely while we spun around the room and giggled about all the things that had happened so far on our perfect day and we giggled out of nervousness for what was to come later that night… (I can say that, right?)
This past Christmas as we were making the short 45 minute drive from his parents’ to my parents’ house, we listened to a few George songs with excitment knowing my dad had a Las Vegas surprise to take my mom to see George Strait under the tree. *See bottom of post for more details.
We shuffled through a few classics and then “I Cross My Heart” started playing. K.T. grabbed my hand sweetly as we sang along and remembered that sweet day we got married. Then the bridge came…
“And if along the way we find a day it starts to storm,
You’ve got the promise of my love to keep you warm.”
Next thing I knew, I was a blubbering, crying idiot. When you get married, there’s an understanding that you will face hard times, but never, ever do you think it will actually happen to you. In all my days before March 28, 2015 (and really up until diagnosis) I never thought I would put my husband through the hardship of caring for his cancer patient wife just 2.5 years in. It felt like the worst kind of “storm” short of death that I could imagine, but K.T. kept his promise and always kept me “warm.”
He bathed me after surgery when I could barely even make it into the shower by myself, he made fast food runs knowing that I might not even want to eat what he came back with anymore when he got home, he waited on me hand and foot, and he’s never missed a single day in telling me I’m lovely and beautiful. He’s never made me feel bad about having to care for me. He’s never cried because I was sick…only because of the blessing that I was getting better, and he’s never been anything but thankful for the journey the Lord has had us on. Yeah…I don’t deserve him.
But while I will unapollegetically share with you the man and true blessing my K.T. is, I also want to stress something else very important!
It is crucial that you find and cling to people around you during your journey to love you, support you, encourage you, validate your feelings, and be selflessly willing to help you!
So I’ve put together a short list of things that I feel made my heart swell the most and filled up my love bucket as we’ve traversed some rough waters.
No, I don’t mean strangers…unless you’re into that kind of thing (but they probably aren’t, so don’t do it). But take time to hug your people, your pets, your stuffed animals. Whatever. There’s this saying out there that 10 hugs a day improves your health. I don’t know how scientifically proven that is, but I’m willing to test it out. And I’m lucky enough to have a person, a pet, and a stuffed animal. Don’t judge me.
Can I confess that this was a hard one for me? I’m not a super touchy-feely person. I didn’t snuggle a whole bunch growing up (unless I have amnesia) and so when I got married and my husband followed me around wanting hugs and snuggles all the time in the middle of cleaning, laundry, or whatever else I was focused on…uhhh…I was really confused and used to turn around and stare at him like he was insane. But y’all, HUGS give me LIFE these days and I’ve tried to be better at making moments for them. Stressed out? Hug it out. Bad day? Hug it away. It’s become much more of my default, but I do admittedly still get a little annoyed when K.T. unplugs the vacuum to come steal a hug. But don’t worry, he always plugs it back in afterwards.
Take the time
I probably harp on this one a little too much, but don’t be too closed off or too embarassed to talk about what you’re feeling throughout life. And on the other side of things, don’t be too busy to listen. There are few things more important than connecting with someone on an emotional level. A level where you can relate and potentially feel some of the same things they are going through out of empathy. Look people in the eyes and share a little about your heart. People don’t always need advice or an action plan. Mostly, people just need a gentle understanding and maybe a hug or 12 (see previous point).
Our hearts are what make us who we are (fine, it’s actually part of our brains but I’m not a doctor so I’m going with heart), and it’s the moments of connection that create the memories that make a mark on others. It’s been said that it’s not always what people do for us, but how they made us feel. Don’t be scared to feel, yall. It’s magically freeing.
Say “I love you”
I love you is one of the most important things to hear for all ages, but don’t be deceived by thinking “I love you” is just for lovers. Feeling love and even expressing a love you have for something or someone can do wonders for your attitude (and attitude is everything in cancer. Trust me.) Love takes you to a happy place and focuses your thoughts on things that satisfy your soul.
Feeling awkward about it? Didn’t grow up in a loving family? I get it. But try working your way up to expressing how much you care for your people, whether it’s your friends, your family, or your spouse. I promise you that it matters more than you think.
See? That wasn’t too mushy, right? Just enough love to make your Valentine’s Day extra lovely. Happy Valetine’s Day, my friends.
Onward and upward!
*One of the main reasons K.T. and I were so excited about Mom and Dad’s trip to vegas was because we knew this is how she was going to find out. Dad had asked me to help him come up with a way to tell Mom so I waved my magic Photoshop/InDesign wand and came up with this. Glanda fam…meet Dad Strait! Yes, that is my father’s head on George Strait’s body.