When I was in Jewel the other day at the self-check out, I noticed bouquets of roses in different hues of reds and pinks nearby. Within arms reach. My first immediate thought was to buy one. My hand ever-so-slightly was reaching toward the bin. Then somehow–finally–my brain caught up to what my hand was doing and “righted” the situation, correcting my hand’s trajectory back to my bag of goods.
It was surprising to me more than anything else. And it felt sort of…comforting.That I would see Valentine flowers and immediately think to bring them home for Ken. That good habits are no more easy to break than bad ones. Like there was somehow some sort of universal equilibrium that I didn’t spend too much time thinking about.
I haven’t dreaded Valentine’s Day this year. It hasn’t been on my radar much, but when I do realize it, it seems irrelevant more than anything else. Like it might for any single person, I suppose. Perhaps with one very important difference. If I never have a valentine again for the rest of my life, I’m good. Without trying to sound too condescending to those who may not have had one, I hope everyone at some point is lucky enough to have had one as kind, loving, handsome and creative as the one I had–and still have in some ways.
I received a Valentine in the mail yesterday from my friend Kathy. I think she’s been sending them to since we met in the early 90s (in day care). The next day one followed lovingly from Mama Jo, my mother-in-law. Last year it sort of pissed me off to get Valentines in the mail. Obviously (to me, anyway), there was only one I wanted and it wouldn’t be coming. And though well-intentioned, each Valentine scratched at a scabby wound, reminding me what I didn’t have. Not so this year. I was better prepared for this year’s holiday of lovers. Like all the major events since Ken died, I’ve cycled through the annual ones once already. So this isn’t my first day at the V-Day rodeo.
In noticing my own indifference to the holiday, it feels like I’ve taken some big boy steps further along this very poorly lit path of grief. I don’t know if I will ever not be at least a little angry that he’s gone, but I imagine time will continue to work her magic as I’m reminded more and more of what a wonderful relationship I had with Ken rather than the lack of it now.
The biggest action I took in preparing for today was collecting all the love notes and cards Ken and I exchanged over the years and putting them in a beautiful box. To have them all in one place at my fingertips to be reminded of him and his creative, loving heart hurts less than I feared it might. But sometimes you do things because they’re the right thing to do, not because you want to do them. Like cleaning the bathroom. And after you’ve done them, you reap the reward of satisfaction of having done it.
My treasure chest is so full of love I’m surprised it shuts at all.