For several days, I’ve been wanting to write about Love, and what better day than Valentine’s Day? (Credit for the title goes to Howard Jones.) I will not attempt to define love but want to describe the outpouring of love that I have witnessed this past week and how that has changed me.
Since last week, my wife and our family have been overwhelmed with love. The first acts of love and kindness that I witnessed were friends and neighbors that came within hours of my father-in-law’s passing on to express condolences to my wife’s mother and family. That night, my son was about 45 miles away at college. Two friends stopped what they were doing to drive almost 100 miles round trip so that our son could be with his family.
The next day, after dealing with the funeral home and cemetery for several hours, my mother-in-law’s neighbor showed up with a crockpot of hot soup, bread, and cookies just as we returned to her house.
When we returned to our own home, a former bishop was there with hugs, flowers, and chocolate. Another neighbor brought a plant, and a good friend arrived later with rolls and stayed to visit with my wife. Someone else thoughtfully brought by lots of food that was leftover from a school event.
During the next few days, everywhere we were surrounded with love. Several people brought beautiful flowers and plants or had them delivered to our house. Messages of love and support poured in via text and social media.
A sister and her family drove a considerable distance to express their love by decorating our door with hand-cut hearts, each with encouraging words or adorably drawn pictures. The door decorating was repeated twice, once by a dear neighbor that enlisted the help of her family, and again by the beehives in the ward.
On the morning of the funeral, a visiting teacher arrived with dozens of rolls. A good family friend took half of her day to attend the funeral and cemetery with us. Another neighbor later brought homemade bread in a bag decorated with hearts. At church, a neighbor that had also lost his grandmother on the same day, expressed his sincere condolences and his love for our family. At the end of church, after a lesson about the plan of salvation, a prayer was offered for our family.
I don’t think that I have ever been the recipient of so much love from so many people. I can’t speak for others, but this outpouring of love sustained and energized me. This experience has given me a whole new perspective. I feel grateful. I feel more empathy for others and a greater desire to serve. I feel more apt to be kind.
I don’t know how else to describe it, but I feel changed and hope that this is only the beginning of such feelings.