Saying ‘I Love You’ on Valentine’s Day


By Vivian Blevins

Contributing Columnist

Feeling confined? Does every day of being held hostage by COVID make you more aware of the failings, real or perceived, of your significant other? Or are you one of those wishing you had a lover? Perhaps you are considering partners of the past and assessing whether you would be happier with them than you are with your current partner?

Maybe you are one of those who considers him/herself perfect or so nearly perfect that any small peculiarity is insignificant.

Maybe you’re one of the millions who has been infected with COVID in spite of being boosted or because you opted to say no to the vaccines. In either case, you feel so exhausted even though the worst of the symptoms have long since gone away. And you live in fear every day that the infection will return and perhaps not be so kind this time? Do you envision yourself on a ventilator or even worse?

You love to travel, but you refuse to join the hordes of Americans who have traveled, throwing caution to the winds. Your anxiety won’t allow you to buy that plane ticket. Or perhaps you bit the bullet and bought that ticket only to have your flight canceled?

Is your job in jeopardy because you’ve missed so much work because of school closings with no one to care for your children, and working remotely is not an option?

Have you forgone attending funeral services for friends you loved or postponed a service for a person for whom you had major responsibility?

Do you believe that you are having a tougher time than your friends, your neighbors, your relatives?

We’ve been in this mire/swamp/morass/quicksand for two years now, and there is no end in sight. You might be thinking, “Vivian, It’s easy for you to write a weekly column and write words to encourage us when your life is so very easy.”

My response to that assumption: I’ve lost count of the number of family members who have been ill with COVID. My ex-husband, the father of our sons, killed himself. A person to whom I turned a year and a few months ago after losing a best friend to cancer succumbed to COVID after being fully vaccinated. Her accounts to me of being isolated in a hospital and begging for a warm blanket, begging for her shoes so she could walk out of the hospital, begging for her husband to come and take her home will never leave my consciousness. Others have died in the past few months, and all I can do is make calls and type long letters to express my condolences. And I live with fear of more deaths.

When this all started and following the suicide of my ex and the ensuing chaos and grief, I created a pink notebook, and it was not easy.Very time consuming and demanding. All the things I knew I needed to do acquired a new immediacy: updated will, car titles, insurance, deeds. financial records, health care directives, etc.

I’ve also employed a host of strategies: visualization, mindfulness, gratitude exercises, regular prayer. I’ve read book after book, short stories, poems. I’ve filled yellow legal pads with poems, stories, and a play. I’ve returned to my college days of sketching. Know that I love teaching, connecting with my college students, and I wouldn’t recognize my students that I teach online if they arrived at my front door.

I’ve been ill with something I caught after a student coughed in my face. Not COVID per the at-home tests and hospital tests, but debilitating.

My furnace quick working late in the afternoon on an especially cold day.

Know that all of the hatred, divisiveness, racism, political bickering that has come to the forefront of this country compounds the personal issues we are facing.

As we survive and our endurance is tested, I’m asking you to ask yourself as Valentine’s Day approaches, How hard can it be to say I love you? How many times a day, a week, a month are appropriate? Do you have a limited store that requires that you ration those three little words? Just three words, no more than a single breath or the beat of your heart — at least if your physical condition allows a steady rhythm.

When you speak these three little words, do they bring relief, affirmation, joy?

And hugs. Can you take a few minutes each day to get off the merry-go-round, for which there is no semblance of merry, and actually hug those who are in your sphere and whom you love. Research demonstrates the importance of human touch. Just do it. It might be uncomfortable at first, but…

In conclusion, refuse to be indifferent. We each must find out own way as we face these obstacles, this dilemma. Remember that Valentine’s Day 2022 is on the horizon. Be steady. Chart your own path in a way that brings some semblance of order, balance, and pleasure. Give even when you think you have nothing left to give. Live within these limitations. Live.

Vivian B. Blevins, Ph.D., a graduate of The Ohio State University, served as a community college president for 15 years in Kentucky, Texas, California, and Missouri before returning to Ohio to teach telecommunication employees from around the country and students at Edison State Community College and to work with veterans. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints nor the independent activities of the author.

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