Sometimes words are unnecessary. Such a weird thing for a writer to say. Coming up on Valentine’s Day, I want to remember what it is to be in love, astoundingly, courageously, heart in my mouth, love. When I started thinking about this post, a series of images took flower in my heart, bittersweet, opening my eyes to how lonely life had been for years.
Nineteen years ago, I went to dinner at what was for us, a fancy restaurant. After ten years together, finally finished with my graduate schooling, Rod had scraped together enough money to go for our first Valentine’s Day dinner out.
I was excited, toe-tingling, searching my closet for something pretty to wear, putting on uncomfortable lingerie, excited. After an hour of primping, usually I’m done in 30 minutes, 45 if I have to deal with animals; my hair looked okay, eye make-up subtle, mouth a bright red for the holiday, my husband walked into the bedroom. I thought how happy I was to be married to a man I adored … and who was so handsome. Thick black hair shot through with silver, soft kissable mouth, green eyes lively with intelligence and humor.
Before we left, we stood looking at each other. If there were words, they weren’t memorable. We drove to the restaurant in his beat-up Corvette. For five courses, smiles and eye contact were our form of communication. Words would have muddled the time. Before dessert, Rod reached into his pocket to pull out a box. Without breaking our gaze, he presented the box across the table. Opening the box, I found a pair of garnet earrings bound in silver wire – these from a man who professed a disbelief in gifts. Silently, I put them on. They were small rectangles of a soft red, the color of blood. Plates of berries and cream interrupted our contented sighs. After a final glass of champagne, we tootled the mile back to our house.
Immediately, I felt sick. Running to the bathroom, I vomited raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and cream all over the bathroom. Rod got a pillow for my knees and held my long curly hair out of my face. The projectile berries created quite a firework display covering the bathroom floor, the walls, and me with blotches of red, purple, blue and pink.
Between explosions, I said to Rod, “I’m so sorry. I was excited about the night and now I have a whoopsie tummy.”
He ran towels under water ands started to wipe off my face. Another explosion of berries.
“Not a problem. What an ending to the night,” he said.
“I ruined it,” I said tears mixing with the stains on my face. Caring for me like I was a sick baby, Rod took my clothes off, chucking them in the trash, wiped clean my body with cool towels, and scooped me up.
“You are a mess,” Rod said laying me in the bed.
“Yes, but a mess who loves you with all her heart,” I said.
Rod put a wastebasket by the side of my bed and a washcloth on the nightstand. “Just in case. I’m right here.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too. And you are my mess.”
I took out the earrings to wake up with them still held in my hand.
Less than three weeks later, Rod contracted a virus. His heart bled out.
Maybe this Valentine’s Day, you can use action to show someone how much you love them. Celebrate their foibles, little quirks, and whoopsie tummies. I am going to wear my garnet earrings in remembrance of love.