As Valentine’s Day creeps closer and closer, I am once again pulled into my yearly period of reflection and contemplation on the meaning of love and loss.
I’ve written before about the strange dichotomy between which I exist on Feb. 14. At one moment my mind is flooded with the loving memories of my parents’ intimate courthouse wedding.
But in an instant, those memories fade to black and I’m filled with the grief-stricken memories of a friend who died far too young.
And as I prepare to embrace these dueling realities on Monday, a quote I first heard while watching the most recent episode of HBO’s critically acclaimed series, “Euphoria,” comes to mind.
“Memories exist outside of time and have no beginning or end.”
My Valentine’s Day is marked annually by two distinct and diametrically opposite moments taking place exactly 11 years apart: the loving and joyful memory of my parents’ wedding when I was five coupled with the Earth-shattering pain of losing a loved one at the invincible age of 16. So the significance of the above quote is not lost on me.
I carry both of these truths with me always, but I’m especially reminded of them on Valentine’s Day. I’m reminded of the balance I strike between joy and pain. Between love and loss.
And as these memories continue to coexist inside my mind and outside of time, they only become further tied to one another. The lines between joy and pain, between love and loss, begin to blur.
Because the truth is that my grief wouldn’t exist if not for the love I have for my fallen classmate. The joy I feel when remembering my parents’ wedding would not be as sweet if I hadn’t known the pain of loss.
I’ve said before that there is beauty within grief. There is also joy within pain and love within loss.
These pairs of emotions that I have long thought to be in constant opposition are actually two points on the same circle – stops along the same journey that we all take.
So this year, I’m choosing to honor the cycle of love, loss and life. I will toast to the longevity of my parents’ love and pause to grieve the absence of my friend.
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I will continue to carry my memories – the good and the bad – because in the end, my love and my grief cannot exist without one another.