I had almost missed the holiday (?) entirely except for catching some mention of it yesterday while scrolling through my Facebook feed and again today reading a gut wrenching brief essay which flowed like a monolog written by a mother who lost her daughter freshman year of college about the fourth week of February. From what I gather it's been quite a few years and in the scattered postings about Katie we learn what means to lose a child; you never really do get past it, the grief is like a kaleidoscope turning on its own accord. If I had to guess I'd say Katie's been gone ten years now and Lisa bears the burden of that loss remarkably well; she is vulnerable to the grief and in that vulnerability she is not drowning. At least that's my take on it.
She writes about spontaneously sending a mix of flowers, different shades of tulips mostly to her daughter's dorm and somehow two orders were delivered and Katie was awash in Valentine's Day affection from her mother, an unheard of gesture that left her giddy and sent her back to the same florist for another dozen tulips when the first two batches started to fade. She had trouble choosing a color but in the end settled on red.
When Katie died her roommate tried to give the flowers to Lisa but Lisa couldn't take them and when she tried to press them that didn't work out particularly well either so that was the end of any hard evidence of the tulips in the same way you lose any hard evidence of a person usually once you bury them. I have a lock of my first husband's baby hair. I'm at a loss as to what to do with it because he isn't mine any longer; he has a new wife but somehow I feel as if I'm not obligated to pass that on. I have this hard evidence that I once loved and was loved by a man that much. I think that's what it is, anyway.
I cried about Lisa's and Katie's last Valentine's Day and probably a lot of people did. I'd just finished cleaning the bathroom and I got some of that stuff in my eyes so I ended up crying some more which was just as well.
The next thing I read was a post by one of my recently divorced friends from high school about really feeling this aloneness and how she hoped all the single ladies were doing alright out there and a man piped up and wrote, um, I'm single too so she corrected the gender imbalance and I thought, wait, no, this isn't right. I am at peace and I may not have been quite at peace last year but last year I had some good, solid protection called Cielo but the year before that I experienced three or four days of the most exquisite pain and the year before that, while the pain was not exquisite I can't say it was pleasant although it wasn't entirely bad it was just showing signs of getting a little out of hand. So I don't experience Valentine's Day as a hole to be filled by a partner. I don't actually experience it as anything, oddly enough. That exquisite pain from two years ago tore any association with loving feelings away from the day and dropped it in a snow bank. I remember he read something, a Facebook post maybe about a girl at Flurry who was dumped by her boyfriend and it was at Flurry and it was on Valentine's Day and wasn't that awful and I thought, well yes, it is, and I am experiencing this exquisite pain and it is on Valentine's Day and it is at Flurry and I have no idea what to do with this.
I remember delivering purple roses in a box and that was the most lovely feeling and then tying them up to dry in the kitchen and now I have been severed entirely from the commercialism which tells us how we ought to feel on February 14. And you know what? I'm OK with that. I'm not OK with how I felt two years ago and last year was kind of scary but I did alright and this year is kind of scary because I have no idea what's going to happen (but it's not V-Day this year at Flurry either) but it will turn out the way it turns out.
Mostly I am thinking about Lisa and Katie and that last Valentine's Day because I looked at my daughter sitting in the kitchen last night telling me what to do next as I prepared our dinner and I watched the look on her face when what I'm about to do finally landed. We've been talking for close to six weeks about me taking a job which will put me on the road close to 80% of the time which is going to be life changing. No one is dying but in that moment when she gasped out the question, 'but when will I see you?' one of us might as well have been...just in that moment.
It was very early in the morning before I slept.
She is my Valentine Girl.