I have always loved Valentine’s Day. I have hand-made Valentine cards for as long as I can remember. My great-aunts and great-uncles, and of course my parents, aunt and grandma, saved all of them. As they’ve passed on, their collections of the cards I made for them made their way back to me so I would know that they were kept and treasured. I see them as testaments to the love we all had for each other. But, I miss all of these people.
My dad passed away the day before Valentine’s Day in 2014. I spent Valentine’s Day that year making his funeral arrangements. My dad’s birthday is the day after Valentine’s Day. I remember the simple and sweet Valentine’s Days spent with Ben where we danced in the living room. Dancing was an important part of our relationship and I miss that, too. He always knew that after I put him to bed, I would make a card and decorate the apartment, and he looked forward to his Valentine’s Day surprise. It added some whimsy to his homebound life. There is a melancholy that pervades these days.
As first Valentine’s Day without Ben approached, I realized that all of the people for whom I made my cards were gone, except for my aunt Eleanor, who is in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s Disease. She doesn’t remember the cards, though she seems to like to hold them when I show them to her, but the relationship we had is also gone. The loss of my little but loving routine of making Valentine cards magnified the void created by the loss of my loved ones. Here they are:
There are some things that I cannot yet do or enjoy since I’ve lost my parents and Ben. But, Valentine’s Day is a time of love, and although I lost many people that I loved and who loved me so much, I am fortunate and grateful to have had them in my life. I am also grateful to still be surrounded by much love. Crafts projects give me peace and inspiration, so I continue to tap my inner child with my card-making tradition, with Disney as the star. The holiday is different now, and not as happy, but it does give me joy to show my love and appreciation, in my craftsy way, and to share a special memory that keeps Ben, my parents, grandma and great-aunts and great-uncles close.
I wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day filled with love and friendship, and a sprinkling of pixie dust!