I’m glad once again this year that you weren’t big on Valentine’s Day…that’s not to say that I don’t have special memories- especially when we were dating- of dinners out in trendy restaurants in NYC, special pieces of jewelry, and my favorite: homemade booklets and cards from you. I do…I do…in my timeless mind- those are all still going on…
But I feel like people thought today was a difficult day for me. I know it is for many widows and again, that’s not to say I didn’t feel piercings of the intense nostalgia of grief, remembrances, or wish a few times that we could go out to dinner together, or that you’d choose the prettiest flowers for me and later complain about how “all the prices are jacked up for this day,” and mostly wish I could just… hold your hand. Mostly, I tried not to indulge in these wishes- they can not happen.
But overall, I felt triumphant today. It had more joy spots than usual. I might even enjoy Valentine’s Day more than I used to. Because it’s not about a commercial, romantic ideal, and there are no expectations. For me now, it’s about the pretty aesthetic that accompanies it and all of the different ways I can make it special for our daughter. I think perhaps the Hallmark holiday suits childhood much better than adulthood. I cooped at Audrey’s school today Dan- and I made heart shaped waffles, strawberries, and baked tortillas for their snack. I made photo cards of her for the kids’ mailboxes. I decorated the door of her room with strings of hanging shiny purple hearts, and bought heart-shaped donuts for our snack this afternoon. A few days ago, I even mailed a package to a single friend- I wrapped up my favorite French soap, bath crystals, and heart-shaped chocolates in pink and red wrapping paper tied up with twine and with little slips of brown grocery bag, I wrote the words “faith,” “hope” and “love” on each package.
You were here and present though. We did not forget you for a moment. We spoke of you often. I bought two helium heart-shaped balloons yesterday- to “send up to you” as we did last year. Probably the hardest part- is taking over your tradition of buying her a Valentine’s gift. You came up with that yourself, and I thought it was just so sweet. I loved the gifts you chose when she was four months old and when she was 17 months old. You only got to do it twice huh. Still, it felt solidified in my mind as something you were going to always do. I gave her a book and a little fashion press with fabric and she loved both. I made sure to tell her that this was your tradition and remind her of the things you’d given her in the past- her stuffed dog, her Hello Kitty book, and told her that I was just taking over for you and that you would want her to have this.
I think a lot today about why I feel so light. I think I may have felt more sadness and misery before I had you…when I was still waiting and hoping there would be someone out there to love me and for me to love and not even knowing love itself, but just the theoretical, commercial ideal I saw in movies or read about in Austen novels. But now I know there is, and there was, and I feel your love even now. Still, there is the moment when I wonder if I’m numb and fooling myself. The moment when I sit in my spot on the kitchen floor and literally squeeze my head trying to wrap my mind around the fact that you are not just disappeared, but dead and buried. This is one I still don’t get and it literally hurts like a muscle lifting weight when I try to. I give up. The weight slams down. I make another Valentine for Audrey’s spot at the dinner table.
A tough day? It was a regular day of heartbroken living with spots of brightness. The day we met, that’s a tough day. Our anniversary- another difficult 24 hours. Father’s Day- very, very painful. Your birthday- probably the most difficult day of the year besides your death day.
I think today is about being a couple, having someone, and the notion of romantic love. It is not about us, our love story, and it doesn’t come close to the mundane magic moments that we had. Each day though, I share an apartment with a living, breathing reminder of our love. Each cordate, broken, ordinary day.
But interestingly enough, something else happened a few days ago that has pushed me to a slightly different space…my daughter and I were heading out the door- and she was, as usual, dressed in princess attire including crown. She always says hello to the concierge I’m friendly with as she prances towards the door. He also happens to have lost his first wife while in his thirties- followed by their infant son. What he said to me as I was heading out the door has been ringing in my ears ever since. He said something to me that I did not think I would ever hear again. And when he said it, at first I almost questioned him: “What do you mean?” But then I knew exactly what he meant, and instead replied, “I know…”
What did he say?
“You’re very lucky.”