After New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day is the most celebrated holiday around the world. Most people associate Valentine’s Day with sending or giving valentine cards and gifts to those they love, receiving valentine cards and gifts from those they love, seeing store shelves stocked with heart shaped boxes of chocolates and other candies, receiving a gift from an anonymous valentine, or spending time with that “special” valentine. But, the holiday may not necessarily be one of joviality for everyone. For some, Valentine’s Day means another day spent alone. However, no one has to be alone on Valentine’s Day.
Robert Heinlein, an American science-fiction writer once stated, “Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” Even if a person is single and does not have that “special” valentine sweetheart to spend the day with, there are still things that he or she can do, and people that he or she can spend time with, that can help make the day just as special. Perhaps, instead of feeling lonely and being overly concerned about personal happiness on Valentine’s Day, it would prove more profitable to show love for others and make them happy. Their happiness can then become contagious, and just as Robert Heinlein alludes to, we soon find that their happiness is indeed essential to our own. We become happy because others are happy. When we understand that, we begin to obtain some comprehension of what love is really all about.
As a single adult member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (more commonly referred to as the Mormon Church), when I think of Valentine’s Day, my mind often reflects upon the wonderful women in my life and the love that each of them have given me and the love that I have for each of them. I also reflect upon the many happy, memorable moments that we have shared together. Indeed their happiness has been essential to my own. I will speak of just one of these remarkable, “special” valentines in particular.
I would consider my beloved mother, Frances Mae Harmon Brown, to be one of those “special” valentines. Although she passed away after a battle with breast cancer at the young age of 59 years, and is no longer physically here with me, at times when I am feeling all alone, I can look at pictures of her or read letters that she wrote to me, and soon my mind is flooded with the precious sweet memories of the wonderful times that we shared as mother and son. Her love for me as her son was not just an earthly love, but I truly believe that it is an eternal love. I believe that she anxiously awaits the day when we shall be united once again. But it wasn’t just her love for me as her son that made such an indelible impression on my life, but rather it was the true genuine love that she had for anyone and everyone that she met on her life’s journey. It is no small wonder that in life, as well as in death, people lovingly referred to her as “Mom.”
I remember the last time that I visited with my mother. I was serving on active duty military at the time in the country of Iceland. I had the opportunity to take 30 days leave, and rather than spending the time taking a trip or doing some of the things that I may have wanted to do with my time off, the Holy Spirit quietly let me know that I needed to go home and spend time with my mother. I am so thankful that I did, as it would be the final moments in this earthly life that we would have together. I remember when my military leave was over and I had to return to duty, though she was tired and not feeling particularly well, she went with the family to see me off at the airport. Normally, whenever I was about to board the plane, we would say our good-byes and she and the family would head back home. This particular time as we were to say our good-byes, she whispered, “Well, I guess this is it!” We both knew in our hearts what that meant. As I left to board the plane she stood at the window and did not leave until the plane began to taxi down the runway.
I also remember one particular evening, in fact it was the night before I was to leave to go back to active duty, I came out of my bedroom, and there was my mother busy in the kitchen preparing one of my favorite meals of homemade chicken and dumplings. I could tell by the look on her face that she was tired and not feeling especially well. I remember telling her that she didn’t have to go through the trouble of making me a special meal if she did not feel up to it. But, somehow I think my comment hurt her just a little. She just looked at me and said, “I know how much you love chicken and dumplings, and I wanted you to have some before you left.” How could I be such a silly young man to think that preparing this meal was a bother to my mother? This was obviously something that she wanted to do. I said nothing more, but watched her continue to prepare the meal. I will say that without a doubt, those were the best homemade chicken and dumplings that I have ever had then or since. It was not because they had been made any differently than in times past, but this batch was made with a little extra of that “special” valentine’s love.
It is when I think of precious moments such as those that I can sense my “special” valentine smiling down on me and still feel of her love, and with that, on Valentine’s Day or any other day, I find that I am never really alone. Someone has wisely said, “Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end.” That I can personally testify is a true statement.
Valentine’s Day means so many different things to so many people. There are those who love the day and go out of their way to make it truly something special. Then there are those who would much rather the day pass them by as it is just another reminder of how alone they feel. I submit that being alone and feeling lonely is a choice like everything else in life. As for me, I have precious memories that keep me happy and therefore I never really feel alone. More importantly, I have the unfailing love of my Savior, Jesus Christ. There is no greater love than the love that He gives. Knowing that I am His, and that I am safely in the arms of His love, I humbly submit that I can never be alone – not on Valentine’s Day, nor any other day.
Keith L. Brown
Keith L. Brown is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having been born and raised Baptist. He was studying to be a Baptist minister at the time of his conversion to the LDS faith. He was baptized on 10 March 1998 in Reykjavik, Iceland while serving on active duty in the United States Navy in Keflavik, Iceland. He currently serves as the First Assistant to the High Priest Group and Ward Missionary for the Annapolis, Maryland Ward. He also serves as a Stake Public Affairs Specialist for the Annapolis, Maryland Stake. He is a 30-year honorably retired Navy veteran.