Just over a month ago I had the last of the “first” without my late husband. His first birthday…our first wedding anniversary, the first Christmas and much more. I thought if I could just get past all the “first” I’d be OK. And I was doing well. Just not today.
Today is Valentine’s Day. The day made for lovers. I tried to get in to the swing of things. I wore a red jacket; said “Happy Valentine’s Day!” to everyone in the office and encouraged people to eat the heart shaped donuts one of the other managers brought in. I did all this and more while wearing a smile. I was doing well. I really was. I even said to myself, “I got this. I’m going to be OK.” And then I realized, not today.
When the evening rolled around and everyone started to leave. The guys all left a little early so they could stop by Godiva and pick up chocolates. Some needed to pick up flowers. And others had a gold and diamond bracelet waiting at the jeweler. The girls all ran out the door expecting a surprise from their boyfriend or husband. Even the ones who always worked late left early.
Not me. I stayed alone in the office…at my desk, reviewing yet another set of policies and procedures. It wasn’t that the document had to be done. It could have waited. I could have shut down my computer; put my coat on; left the building and walked to the train station. I could have done all of that, just like I did a hundred times before. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. Not today.
Why? Because I was scared. I was scared to walk to the train station and go down that escalator. Because I knew. I knew it would hurt. I knew that he wouldn’t be waiting for me at the bottom of the escalator; standing by the clock with a big bouquet of purple roses and a box of chocolates, like he did so many Valentine’s Days before. He wouldn’t be standing there with a big grin on his face like a little boy with a secret. The perfectly wrapped jewelry box wouldn’t be inside his coat pocket. Not today.
This wasn’t the first Valentine’s Day I spent without him. But this time last year I was in such a fog. I was numb to the pain. But not today.
This Valentine’s Day I could feel it. I could feel it all. That overwhelming feeling of loss…of emptiness… of loneliness. And anger.
Who am I angry with? At him? At God? No, I’m angry at me. It has been over a year now. Get over it! I tell myself. You can’t mourn forever. You’re a grown woman. Pull up your big girl panties and move on. You survived the worse year of your life. You were able to survive when at times you didn’t think you could. Not only did you survive but in many ways you even thrived. Everyone tells you how strong you are and how proud they are of you. Just not today.
So wipe away those tears. No need to call up a friend & tell them how lonely you are without him. How much you miss his voice, his hugs, and his kisses. They’ve heard it all before. Just not today.
I can’t be strong today. I guess it’s a pain I’ll never get over. That pain that never seems to really go away. I’m learning to live with it. Every once in a while the grief and pain rears it’s ugly head to remind me that no matter how deep I bury it it’s still there. There to remind me that I am still not whole. I am still not healed. I am still loss without him. I’m usually able to hide it. Just not today.
Loving you was easy. Living without you never will be. So I guess every holiday; every memory will continue to feel like the first. But in the meantime, I’ll make you proud. I’ll be strong, I’ll smile. I’ll work hard and I’ll continue to help others. I’ll be the woman you fell in love with. I promise...Just not today.