Today is the day we celebrate love. There are flowers and cards to be bought, candy to be eaten and the dreaded valentines to be created from those moms on Pinterest that just make you feel crappy about yourself. Do not relent moms, jump off the Pinterest train…the store bought valentines with sugary candy included in the box we were raised on are completely fine for your kiddos! (Side note: I totally mom guilted myself into a play-dough Pinterest valentine for Ellie. And if asked, I am sure she would have rather had the candy.)  

We hype ourselves up for every holiday, including Valentine’s Day, so much that the meaning of the event is lost. I’m a mom, and clearly my guilt is no different. However, on this Valentine’s Day, while Pinterest still sucked me in, I have a very different take on love and matters of the heart.

This morning while getting ready for work, I thought about my sweet Charlie. He would have been so excited for the Dunkin’ Donuts we have special for Valentine’s Day breakfast, the valentine balloons we tie on the back of the barstools to greet them, and the small valentine gift he would have unwrapped at table. We would have easily been able to select his outfit today as Charlie’s favorite color is red. We would have taken the obligatory valentine picture before heading off to school and Charlie, no doubt, would have been grinning from ear-to-ear in anticipation of passing out valentines to his classmates.

In thinking about Charlie’s little stature yet big personality, my mind wandered to his heart, ultimately the place that got us to Charlie’s Heart Foundation. I took myself back to the day Charlie died, and the first thoughts I had after the nurse gave me the news. His heart, Charlie’s precious heart, it should be able to sustain another child. Could it not continue beating in another body? When I pleaded with the Neurologist to donate Charlie’s heart, I remember how the tears rolled down my face when he sadly said it was no longer viable. I thought of Charlie’s kindness, his unconditional love for others. I thought about how he treated his friends and loved on his sister in such a way that I knew he would always be by her side. I think about that kind of love today. The kind of love that sustains us in our lives and carries us through. Charlie had that kind of love, the love of a child…boundless, endless, hopeful love.

This Valentine’s Day morning although Charlie was not sitting at the breakfast table with us, it was in many ways no different than the years prior. After Ellie finished her pink-iced Valentine’s Day donut and opened her valentine from us, we headed outside to celebrate with Charlie. We tied a lollipop around Charlie’s valentine balloons (upon Ellie’s request that he needed a special treat in Heaven today), kissed each one, and released them to fly away to Heaven.

I hope that each of us today can be reminded of the meaning of Valentine’s Day. It’s not the candy, the cards or chocolate that matters. It’s the love that we show to those around us. It’s cultivating the unconditional love and kindness, like that of a child. I hope that Charlie’s Heart Foundation can live on to share the love that Charlie still shares with us today and everyday. That we may be able to give to others, what Charlie has given us through our work in Ethiopia and in future projects.

I implore you to ask yourselves today, “What can I do to share my heart, my love, with those around me unconditionally?” What can one heart do?

I hope your answer is…everything.