Alex Geli

Let’s be honest: today will suck.

For some of us, Valentine’s Day brings back bad memories. Memories of awful dates, failed relationships, letdowns and heartbreak.

In my case, this will be my first sucky—for lack of a better term—Valentine’s Day in four years, as I have, during that time, been in a serious long-term relationship with a girl I met while I was in high school. She was a girl who originally developed an unrelenting crush on me, who eventually ensnared me, gave me my first kiss, became my first true love and who I honestly and undoubtedly thought I would call “wife” one day.

But then she broke my heart.

Being dumped—again, for lack of a better term—is a depressing, deflating and somewhat debilitating experience. The things you felt, thought and cared for every second of every day are suddenly dissolved. Left in place is a festering sore that constantly nags, gnaws, grinds and claws as your mind tries to cope with the emptiness that now resides inside.

But no matter how empty, drained or worthless you may feel, know that some people are suffering on a much larger scale. We are solemnly reminded of that today, specifically, as a fellow Marauder, Karlie Hall, is laid to rest today surrounded by her loved ones.

I didn’t know Karlie, personally, but it’s a tremendous tragedy that she won’t be able to spend another day on this earth with someone she loves. Instead, someone she cared about did the unthinkable and ended her life far too early.

It saddens me, of course, but it also infuriates me.

The thing is, people have the extraordinary ability to give and receive love. Love, experienced at its highest peaks, is indescribable. It is powerful. Magical, Palpable, Invigorating. Transcendent.

So, to those blessed enough to still have a place on this earth, those with the simple yet extraordinary ability to love, I have a message for you:

Do not squander it.

Treat your loved ones like they are the last people on the planet; show them how much you care on a daily basis, whether it’s flowers, a trip to see a Broadway show or a simple and pointed, “I love you” (that’ll do the trick most of the time); appreciate them; don’t let anything (or anyone) get in between you; communicate, express your thoughts, feelings, worries and anxieties together; share and celebrate each other’s accomplishments; console each other through rough times; talk about your days and your lives, but also take time to be silent and bask in the simple comfort of each other’s presence; tease each other; embrace their quirks and eccentricities (they’ll grow on you, I promise); get to know and love their family, build a relationship with them, too, because, whether you like it or not, they come as part of the package, help and support one another; never hesitate to show affection in public (but stay classy); remember to enjoy the little and simple things, like, say, carving a pumpkin, decorating a gingerbread house or sharing a giant ice cream sundae; give a freaking back massage once in a while (and, heck, maybe they’ll return the favor), involve them in your ordinary day-to-day, seemingly menial tasks, like doing homework or working out (it’ll make your routine more enjoyable while growing, learning and bonding together at the same time); comfort each other; nurture what you have each and every day, no matter how busy or stressful life gets, because, after all, you’ll come home to the person you love, and that, to me, is one of the greatest benefits of all; hug for long, meaningful periods of time; make sure they feel special and, most of all, loved; go on adventures and to fancy restaurants, but also stay in, do nothing but eat junk food and watch Netflix; cuddle (it’s fantastic); kiss; and, heck, kiss some more; and, in the end, make sure you don’t regret a single thing.

But, no matter what, NEVER abuse them. Period.

Be thankful for what you have this Valentine’s Day. Because some people no longer have the opportunity to experience the innocent and genuine beauty of love ever again.

May Karlie rest in heaven peacefully as we, down here on earth, attempt to love like hell.