“Four years ago my husband Jake was terminated from his job at the age of 59. As you can imagine, he experienced depression and a loss of identity. Because he had two open-heart surgeries in the previous ten years, he didn’t have it in him to begin a new corporate career. He prayed for direction, asking to be shown a way. Originally he came to L.A. to be a comedy writer. Through a series of events, he now has his work on GoComics.com. He receives mail from many who thank him for the smiles, saying his cartoons helped them through chemo and other difficult life events. The inspiring thing about my husband’s journey that motivates me is that life is full of opportunities, often unknown, and that every day is a new beginning – perhaps the opportunity to reinvent oneself, to dare to try something we always dreamed about.”
I think Vivian’s tribute to Jake is what Valentine’s Day is all about – without the mush! Vivian’s admiration of Jake is grounded in thanks and hope and she reminds me that there is no gratitude without hope.
To give thanks for what we can see also acknowledges that there is more to come because “every day is a new beginning.” However, I think it’s easier to say, “I’m thankful” than it is to say, “I’m hopeful.” That’s because real hope is always big and it requires that we have a generous attitude looking to the future. And that takes courage. Vivian and Jake, each and together, are courageous people.
I’m challenged by Vivian’s story because I don’t think I’m a hopeful person. I think “to hope” can seem like it’s leaving things up to chance and I don’t want to take a chance on chance because I’m never lucky!
And I don’t think I’m really a grateful person because I’m never satisfied. I keep pushing myself without pausing to take stock of what I’ve accomplished and what has been given me.
So what to do? Live from cautious hope? Live with meager thanks? That simply won’t do. I think we’re asked to do what Jake and Vivian did. Vivian loved her husband by bearing witness to his pain and struggle. And in Vivian’s unwavering gaze, Jake was able to remember what he’d forgotten – his love of humor.
A wise woman once observed that real love is a reassuring whisper in the dark of night. And so, somehow, in that mixture of faith and hope, fear and love, together they were able to strive to create anew their life – present and future – despite the sirens of the unknown.
That is the truest love of Valentine’s Day!
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