In light of Valentine’s Day, our MiC editors asked us to each write a piece on love. I had to sit and think about what, even in all of my incredibly extensive experience and expertise, I could possibly draw from. But as I sat with myself in silly embarrassment and contemplation, I realized I would be lying if I said I hadn’t felt a tremendous amount of love this past year and even in the last few weeks. I have felt love even, and especially so, outside of any kind of romantic sense of the word. I have witnessed a love that transcends, that inspires … a love that I am immensely grateful for in this season.

At first, I was going to write about how the pandemic has taught me that love, in any and all of its forms, is essential. How it is a grounding force whose power and necessity I have recognized in this precise moment. How I have realized that having even just a handful of people, whether it be friends or family members, to love and gingerly receive love back from has been a crucial stake in my mental health and a truly supernatural constant amidst such uncertain times. 

I think it goes without saying that this past year has been extremely difficult and frightening and uneasy. But it really has been the loved ones surrounding me who have not only occupied my mind with matters other than a raging pandemic, but who have also filled each passing day with joy, comfort and someone or something to look forward to. I was going to write about how, despite the ambiguous shifting — and even expedited drifting — that this pandemic has caused in many of our relationships, the love you engage in with this handful of people, whoever they may be, is more than enough to carry you along.

But I have also realized that maybe this love is not necessarily a given. For myself, it has been the love from my family members, close friends and roommates that has helped me move forward despite such troubling times, not just begrudgingly so but even with an expectant joy. From gorging on Mr Spots’ Philly cheesesteaks in the Law Quad to talking late into the night around a warm bonfire to clinking thermoses full of hot cocoa on a snowy day, being able to hold onto these loved ones so closely and safely, I now realize is a privilege. For many others, this handful of people might be out of arm’s reach, or unavailable to see safely, or hurting or even gone. And I think it would be foolish and perhaps even entitled of me to assume that an abundance of love is currently accessible or guaranteed to everyone in today’s circumstances. 

What I have found this Valentine’s weekend is that love in the era of COVID-19 is not a given but rather a gift. And I should cherish it as such. I should consider the love that I have been so lucky to know during this pandemic as something that is incredibly precious, and in doing so appreciate my handful of loved ones in a way that is more frequent, more intentional and more vocal. I should call them more often, check up on them as they do for me and wish them good morning and good night. 

For Valentine’s Day 2021, perhaps I should simply unwrap, enjoy and reply to the love I have received this year.

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