I want to share with you about a different kind of Valentine's heart: it is truly a "forever" kind of precious Valentine's gift. It is called a Memory Heart. Hospice of the Valleys presents this heart to the families of our patients upon their passing. This simple, special gift means so much to those who receive them.
As you see in the photo, one heart is contained inside the other heart. Upon the passing of a loved one, the inner heart can be removed and left with that loved one. Families understand the simple yet powerful message of this gift of a little heart: that a piece of their heart always goes with the person they love. This little heart is a reminder of the unbroken connection of love which lasts eternally.
I have seen families tie the smaller heart to their loved one's wrist, each family member making a know, as if each knot were a last embrace. I've watched a family gather round a beloved grandfather, all agreeing that he should wear the heart around his neck as an emblem of their love. Each family member placed a kiss and a prayer upon the heart as they helped him embrace his heavenly journey. A woman in one of our bereavement groups wore her heart frequently. She explained to her friends that her own heart would always have a hole in it, but that she would never, never, forget the wholeness of the love she shared with her husband who was and is "always my Valentine."
For some of you, the jazz standard "My Funny Valentine" is probably a familiar tune. It is from a 1937 musical by Rodgers and Hart called "Babes in Arms." In it, the female lead, Billie, sings the song to her new love "Valentine" Val Le Mar. She sings to him: "My funny Valentine, sweet comic Valentine, you make me smile with my heart." She then pokes fun at this rather ordinary looks, but impels him, "Don't change your hair for me, not if you care for me, stay little Valentine, stay." She ends the song, assuring him, that for her, always, "Each day is Valentine's Day."
At the challenging time of loss, when words often do not come easily, the Remembering Hearts help our families embrace the enduring bond with precious loved one. As they hold their half of the Memory Heart, they are assured that they will never be out of love for each other... that every day will continue to be, a Valentine's Day.