I like to be right. I mean, c’mon...who doesn’t like to be right?! My husband ALSO liked to be right. A lot. So yeah, that was a hilarious and often, furor-inducing dynamic to our relationship. When he had an opinion about something, he stuck with it. Unsurprisingly, he had a serious hate on for Valentine’s Day. He would assume his “cantankerous old man sitting on his porch yelling at kids on his lawn” persona, and would rant about the commercialism of this Hallmark holiday. How it was created simply to sell shit and he didn’t need some Hallmark executive telling him when he should tell me he loved me. He simply refused to participate in this bullshit holiday. And I hate to admit it, but he’s right. It’s a bullshit holiday. He is probably rolling over in his grave, fisting pumping, saying ‘YES! I got her to admit it’. Gah. Happy Valentines Day, you fucker.
Despite the fact Kevin hated the holiday, over the years we negotiated a sweet, and romantic in our own style, tradition to mark the day. We would get take out Thai food from the Thai restaurant where we had our first date and I would buy him a card because I like buying cards. Simple and sweet, and not too Hallmark-y. Kevin was okay with it, as was I. And now that he is gone, I’m faced with a new weird reality….a commercial holiday that I know is crap makes me feel sad. Man, grief is complicated.
On the best of days, for a widow, it feels like the world is filled with happy couples who have years ahead of them. On this day, that couple-filled world is on steroids. Commercials on TV, writing your kids’ valentines for school, chocolate on sale at the drugstore, your fucking Facebook newsfeed….it all contributes to a giant screaming sound in your ear….everyone around you is in love and your person is dead. Even the crowds of awkward-looking dudes buying sad carnations at the grocery store tonight made me feel sad. (And then I felt sad that something so lame made me feel sad, but that’s a whoooole other post!)
Driving home from the grocery store, wishing I could tell Kevin about the sad-looking carnation-carrying dudes, I was struck with an overwhelming thought. Kevin was so right. You truly do not need a day prescribed by capitalism to tell someone you love them. This lesson is acutely true for me, and for any widow. In an instance, your person can be taken from you. I should not and will not wait for February 14th to tell people I love them. Life is simply too short and too precious to wait for that one day. Saying goodbye unexpectedly to my love, my best friend and my partner in life has shown me how right he was (as infuriating as that is to admit!) And I am so happy that he didn’t believe in this holiday, but instead believed in sharing your thoughts and feelings of love whenever it struck you. I treasure my memories of Kevin randomly blurting out that he loved me, or him bringing home tulips from the grocery store because he knew I loved them so, or Mini Eggs because he knew I needed a sugar fix, or giving me a bear hug unexpectedly.
As I sit here now, slightly irritated that I have to admit he was right, I’m missing our Valentine’s tradition of Thai food. And it’s clear to me….Kevin was right. I’m glad he didn’t wait for a Hallmark holiday to make me feel loved. I’m glad I got all of the ‘I love yous’ and bear hugs and Mini Eggs when I did. Tonight I will raise a glass of bubbly with my boyfriend as we start new traditions and celebrate love post-loss, but I will not forget the lessons learned from Kevin and his hatred of this holiday. I will love openly, honestly and will share it freely with those who touch my heart. I will tell them and I will show them, today and every day.
Happy Valentine’s Day.