Of course, Valentine’s Day has its basis in history. Before it became the day of romantic love, which is credited to the age of Chaucer, numerous early Christian martyrs were named Valentine. The Valentines honored on February 14 are Valentine of Rome, who was a priest in Rome martyred around 496 AD and Valentine of Terni, who was said to be martyred during the time of Emperor Aurelian. It was rumored that Valentine of Rome wrote a letter to his jailer’s daughter the day before his execution which was signed, “Your Valentine,” which I suppose must have been the first Valentine’s Day card.
But February 14th will always be a different day for me. Since I was 12 years old, it has always been known to me as the birthday of my dear friend, Jason. If there was a crowd of people gathered around someone, it was inevitably him, telling his jokes and stories. He was always there for me, always had a good word to cheer me up when I was down, always made me laugh even when I felt had no capacity to do so. Whenever I called him, he was there, through the good and the bad, through the end of every bad relationship and the beginning of every good one, except the beginning of the last one; the one I wish he had been here to celebrate.
We lost Jason 6 1/2 years ago to complications from multiple sclerosis. I remember him telling jokes even from his hospital bed. His loss has left an empty hole in my life, and in those of everyone’s who was close to him. But I realize that I am so much better for having known him, having shared his life and his stories, having grown up with him.
So, wherever you are, Jay, I love you and honor your life today. You were there during some of the best (and the worst) times of my life and I will never forget you.