It's been a weekend of weddings, anniversaries and incredifrickable love.
Vows, dancing, kissing, hugging, loving, smiling, dancing again. We had it all.
I am literally punch-drunk on love.
We even chucked our disdain for the commercialism of Valentine's Day to the wayside and picnicked on the lawn at the St. Regis Hotel Doha this afternoon.
Liberating ... much ... yes! Screw the non-conformists ... all aboard the love money-train!
I'm feeling so, so, so blessed and grateful. For the love I have, for the love I had, for the love I've been given.
Our Thursday evening was spent at a wedding ceremony at the Anglican Church in Doha. We watched the American bride walk down the aisle; we watched the Canadian groom beam from ear to ear as she joined him at the alter. We listened as the priest asked them to promise to love each other ''in sickness and in health''. And we - the Canadians, Americans, Indians, Pakistanis, Lebanese, Filipinos, Scots, Brits, Dutch and Russians in the chapel - well, we choked back the tears.
Partly because it was beautiful.
Partly because the bride has Stage 4 cancer.
''Wake-up Call'': Love doesn't fricken stop death. But it doesn't stop for death either.
And while we held back our tears, the groom and bride tried not to smile so bright. They couldn't contain themselves. Their joy was contagious, irrepressible. Their eyes belied their joy, openly told a story that conquered the cruelest of medical diagnoses; those eyes told a story of love entirely dismissive of physical limitations.
You couldn't tell by looking at them that they'd been handed the cruellest fate. You could't tell that their days are made up of nausea, chemo treatments, sleepless nights, IV's, scans, vomiting, and ugly shit.
Nope. All you saw was a burning sense of purpose: to love each other and to be happy. Screw cancer, man. Screw it. And the flipping horse it rode in on.
The reception afterwards was nothing but laughing and eating and drinking and dancing. The bride in her beautiful gown, and the groom in his tux ... well they rocked the house. Not a tear was shed. Everyone was too busy having fun. Chances are the bride was sick that night or the next day.
But in that moment ... well ... she danced.
I think we all danced 'til about 2:00 a.m. I know it was late. Somewhere around 3:00 a.m., we stumbled into bed.
Friday night, we were invited to our Dutch-Ukranian friends' 9th wedding anniversary. We talked, we laughed, we toasted. We danced.
It seems like all weekend, we danced.
Smilin' Vic raised his glass to the couple. He got all choked up as he asked them to forget the crap ... and to remember that each moment is measured. He asked them to be a little better for each other than they actually thought they could. And then he held up his glass and told me he'd be a little better than he thought he could. He was remembering Thursday night. He couldn't shake ''in sickness and in health'' and ''til death do us part'', and how real that promise is for all of us, no matter where we're from, no matter how old we are, whether we realise it or not.
And then we all danced again. I think we danced 'til 2:00 a.m. I know it was late. We stumbled into bed somewhere around 3:00 a.m.
We woke up this morning with Kiddo telling me that we desperately needed to go get her a lamp at IKEA. And that she was a non-believer in St. Valentine's Day. She and Smilin' Vic enjoyed a little game of riling me up about how commercial the day had become, and how above that we were as a family. She's a really crap liar. I knew something was up.
I definitely knew something was going on when Smilin' Vic called a car to come pick us up to drive us to ''IKEA''. He said we had to stop at the St. Regis Hotel on the way to deliver something to a new colleague who'd just arrived in town. Stop at the St. Regis we did. And the St. Regis is where we stayed. There was no colleague to be met.
Kiddo was soooooo impressed with her conniving prowess ... I didn't have the heart to tell her I'd sussed her out a few hours back.
We picnicked on the lawns, overlooking the waters of West Bay. We dined on cucumber sandwiches, prawns, potato salad and an assortment of goodies, swirling it down with strawberry juice, lemonade and Freixnet Brut.
We sat on a blanket on a small parcel of grass, together with a few Spanish, Lebanese, Indian, Sudanese, Scottish, and Italian families, basking in the sunshine and enjoying the moment.
We danced. Again, we danced.
There was a band playing new takes on old takes. George Michael, Sting, Madonna, Cory Hart ...
Babies, toddlers, pre-teens, couples in their 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's. Everyone was movin' to the groovin'. Even seated, shoulders swayed, hips undulated. The wind was blowing, the sky was bright. It was just a great day to be alive. To be in Doha. To be in love.
A Qatari coupled strolled over late in the afternoon. They sat down, looking across the Bay. And subtly, oh, so subtly, he put his arm around her.
In their own way, with the waters of the Bay undulating before them, they danced.
As I watched them sitting there silently, gazing out over the bay, the weekend's myriad of moments flooded over me.
Love knows no borders.
Illness doesn't stop it; nor does race, religion, culture or even death.
Even in a country where love scenes and kissing are cut out of movies playing at the theatre; even here, the irrepressible urge to love and to display that love, no matter how subtly, prevails.
The fact is, when you decide to love, you just do.
It might be a vow, it might be a picnic, it might be an arm slung casually around your shoulder. It will likely end in a dance.
It won't matter where you're from. It won't matter how long you've got left.
It will leave you punch-drunk.