Valentine’s Day is upon us, a holiday devoted to love and romance.

Friday will be a day for cards and flowers, fancy dinners out, special gestures and, who knows, perhaps for some couples the presentation of a ring with one of life’s most powerful proposals.....a request for matrimony.

The Valentine’s Day features we publish each year are among my favorite endeavors.....sharing the stories of people from different walks and at different stages of life. Each is unique, yet each also shares common threads of trust, devotion and so much more that makes successful relationships work.

We are pleased to share this year the stories of David and Beverly Perry and Perfecto and Martha Millan.....visiting with them recently was truly a pleasure and an inspiration.

I have to admit, though, that at this Valentine’s Day I am looking at love and commitment and life and relationships from a somewhat different perspective.

Kat and I, who have now been married for more than a dozen years (yes, she is a saint with unending patience).

Ours is a relationship that we each cherish, and there is nothing that we would not do for the other. She changed my life some 17 years ago, and I hope that I did the same for her.

But even in the best of times life has a way of throwing an unexpected curve ball. All the flowers and sweet cards and candy that comes in heart-shaped boxes that come ones a year don’t change the reality that life and true love are not a sprint but a marathon and often a test of perseverance.

We are currently dealing with challenges as Kat suffered a major injury while visiting family in Tennessee and now faces a long recovery process from a compound fracture to a leg.

She is now home, and we are settling into a very new and different routine to facilitate her healing.

We could never have imagined this.

Seeing her in pain hurts. My greatest wish as I sit at home writing this column on a Sunday morning is that the pain subsides and she can at least heal in some degree of comfort. My second greatest wish and overall purpose at this point is to be able to do everything in my power to help and support her, just as she has always done for me.

My point, I guess, is that even in the most blessed of lives and relationships, the journey is not always easy.

I have been looking at all of that from a little different perspective of late.

Life, and love, are sometimes hard.

If you are blessed with true love, cherish it more deeply than anything else you have in life.

Not everybody is so blessed....even on Valentine’s Day.

There are those around us who are grieving the loss of a loved one or experiencing the end of a relationship, or perhaps just still looking to find that special someone with whom to share their life (should they so choose) I read a Facebook post recently to the effect of “Love is what you find when you aren’t looking for it,” and I couldn’t agree more.

When you do find it, embrace and nurture it.

Maintaining love and commitment takes a lot more than a card and flowers every Feb. 14.

Successfully sharing life with a partner involves trust, communication, tolerance, forgiveness, compassion, compromise and so much more. A true relationship is an equal partnership for the long haul through the path of life.

Selfishness, distrust, dominance and envy are poisons that no Valentine’s Day card can erase.

You have to be all in, not just on Valentine’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries and the like.

As we settle into our new routine at home, I have an even greater appreciation for the woman who tapped me on the shoulder at a dinner-dance 17 years ago.

Kat has been a trooper through all this, and in typical fashion is thinking more about others than herself. I just tell her that taking care of each other is what we do.....and that it certainly is time that I begin earning my keep around the house!

There are still a few things that we have to sort out, but I am confident everything will be handled.

We’ve had a lot to evaluate the last few days, and some time to have those conversations.

We have also taken this as an opportunity to look into positive changes in general, regarding everything from how we eat to habits we need to change.

There’s probably a name for that kind of therapy, but I don’t know what it might be.

I just know that we are both focused on getting through this chapter, and emerging stronger and healthier......together.

Yes, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.

And I could not be happier that Kat is my Valentine, 365 days a year.

Dean Harris the Managing Editor of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at dharris@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 243-8104.