A Valentine’s Day Journey


Valentine's Day cookie that says "Love you Barb"

A love letter for a Valentine, who once was me!

I am sitting in my sunny bedroom at 2:30 in the afternoon. I am in pajamas, although not the ones I slept in last night. It is warm and sunny out so I have the window open. Jack is at big boy school and Kenny is at the YMCA.  I am supposed to be writing about Valentine’s Day. That topic seemed much more important Monday night when I was planning my week. Today, the 15th of February the topic seems moot.

I have come to learn that nothing is ever moot.

As a child growing up Valentine’s Day was all about classroom card exchanges. We would decorate paper bags and place them on our desks. We would then walk around and give these small pre-made cards to our classmates. I grew up before bullying was actually addressed properly and there were typically students who would get fewer cards than others.

I was often one of them.

Gracie was perfunctory in her signing of the Valentine’s Day cards. She loved holidays but did not have much endurance in the completion of associated holiday tasks. Molly on the other hand was ALL ABOUT the holiday tasks. She did handmade cards and decorative pencils. We made cookies and cupcakes and one year the very best Oreo Cookie Cupcakes ever! Her last Valentine’s Day we made cake pops. Gracie, Molly, Meaghan and Shelby. We watched the movie, Valentine’s Day. We had fun.

And then she died.

In my dating and then married life Valentine’s Day did not play a major role. It all seemed too canned for me. Any jerk can put on a terrific Valentine’s Day presentation and still be a jerk on all the other days. In my first marriage Eric and I simply exchanged cards. In my marriage to Kenny, we did the same. He was actually quite relieved that I did not expect a big presentation. He had a lot of pressure on him in his first marriage. We kept it simple.

Cards and plants. No cut flowers. That was it.

Roy was all about this holiday, all holidays in fact, but Valentine’s Day in particular. A holiday where love bombing is key! I remember Aimee sharing all that he went through to put on a romantic and unforgettable Valentine’s Day and night. Flower petals leading to bubble baths. Cards, chocolates. She regaled me with more details than I actually needed to hear. That first year Roy and I were together our “Valentine Weekend” was all that I assumed it would be and more. It did not actually fall on February 14th.  A pilot schedule and small children can dictate when holiday celebrations occur. We ate a romantic dinner at The Melting Pot. There was jewelry and chocolate covered strawberries. Candles and music. All of it.

He told me the restaurant would forever be “ours”.

I was, of course grateful for the evening, overwhelmed in fact, but I also felt like I was a character in a story, like I had to perform a certain way. We dressed up, which was fine, but he bought me shoes with heels higher than anything I ever wore. Trying to walk normally was impossible and I felt like he was dressing me as he thought I should look rather than how I looked naturally.

I wanted to please him.

I wanted him to think I was beautiful, and I believe he did. I spent hours looking for that dress and prayed my hair would cooperate. It is a night we would talk about for years. It was both of us at our best for Valentine’s Day. I do not have many pictures of those days. Roy took lots of them and I believe he must have shared them with me but I have a hard time locating them. Lots were on Facebook and he deleted all of that.

Much of life is moot for Roy.

We spent seven Valentines together. All had some sort of dinner and gift exchange. Some were great and others not so much. He was correct that all of the fancy and elaborate gifts and celebrations were at the beginning of relationships. Our relationship was not normal so I understand the strain. I have a bin of his gifts to me in my barn.

They make me cry.

When Molly died, we decided as a family to ignore holidays completely. They were too difficult without her. I have not missed them for the most part. I miss what we once had and that is gone forever. Roy left and so his Valentine Magic has been showered on Karen, Laurie and now Jennifer. I know this makes him happy so I am happy for him.

His first date with Karen was at The Melting Pot.

As I re-read this is seems all sad and weepy. Perhaps it is. I am not sad though. I am ok. I spent my Valentine’s Day with Jack. I worked out at two CrossFit gyms and coached at a third. Fitness and my baby!! That is some terrific self-love right there. Kenny bought a plant and a card. I brought home a flower from my friend Taylor’s Shop.  I do not know how Gracie and B celebrated the day but I did see a social media post. I think we all did the best we could.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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