Be My (own) Valentine

If you, like me, are spending your Valentine’s Day alone, let’s talk about that. This is my fourth time around this particular holiday-sun since Shel died, and I’m trying to make the best of it. Because deep down I don’t think the day is a cliché, a reflection of crass commercialism, a day of platitudes and saccharine sentiment. I absolutely am for the idea of a day that celebrates love, in all its forms.

Last night I had a good cry, anticipating the annual sorrow of the day. But today I’m making a good effort to be my own Valentine. Because, if I’m honest, it’s been that way for a long time.

Shel, for all that he loved me madly and preferred rom-coms to all other films, was not great about Valentine’s Day. I’d remind him, and make some sort of minor fuss over it, and he’d play along, but his heart was never really in it.

He’d have chosen sheltering from the Mediterranean sun under a tea towel, while cleaning salad greens, over dining at the nearby Michelin 1-star any day, and that goes for a romantic dinner on Valentine’s Day as well. In fact, this picture was taken not long after V-Day, which is also celebrated to a moderate extent in France, way back in 2009.

So you’d think that by now I’d have a plan, a sure-fire approach to tackling the day on my own. Only kinda sorta, to tell the truth.

I thought about sending myself flowers, but then I thought better of it. I did do a lot of other comforting things for myself, some of which are undoubtedly peculiar.

First, I turned the heat up one degree. I always leave my daytime heat at 64° in winter, to the despair of my chillier friends. Normally I wear a lot of fleece and shawls in the house, and am sometimes a bit cold, sometimes not. But when people come over I turn up the heat a bit, a degree or three, to be kind to them. I decided to give myself an extra degree today, just for me alone, which turns out to be sort of like giving myself a continuous hug.

I also cooked myself a nice dinner and served it to myself with a pleasing and memory-laden bottle of wine I brought home with me, after a visit to a tiny winery in France, a couple of years ago. Because if I don’t drink it today, then when? And who is going to appreciate it more than I?

As a gift to myself I finished my taxes in just one afternoon, a personal best for me, both in earliness of date completed and shortness of time spent filling out forms.

I went into my icy and snowy back yard with my camera and crunched loudly through the snow, looking for beauty.

I made sure to feel happy, instead of jealous, for my friends who still have their loves beside them. I snuggled a lot with Minou and Toby, who are conveniently spending almost 24/7 in the house to keep their dainty paws off the tundra formerly known as home.

And I made sure to be glad to be alive. Because that’s not a given, not to be taken for granted for the space of one breath. Which is, after all, the space that makes all the difference. That one breath, whether you draw it alone or in the arms of your best beloved, is your real link to this earth, to this life. Valentine’s Day is just the celebration, that breath is what makes it all possible. Keep breathing, keep loving, that’s my plan, and I hope that it’s yours.

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3 Comments on “Be My (own) Valentine”

  1. mimi taylor Says:

    My husband died ten years ago but it seems like yesterday. He loved my adding touches to celebrate a holiday. today, I brought out all the favorite Valentines I kept, He always cooked my favorite things. I no longer cook much do to my hands ravished by RA.I had Champagne , sushi, and a strawberry topped and embedded crème cake. I toasted him and my beloved dog, PASTIS, who died in September.

  2. Francine Lemay Says:

    Tu as tous les droits d’être triste Abbra et j’admire ton courage de VIVRE quand même et de trouver tous les moyens possibles de te rendre la vie plus agréable. Chapeau ma belle!…..big hugs for you for a late Happy Valentine Day! Francine

  3. Sheldon Says:

    Beautiful sentiments- Stay warm, happy, indulged at times and vibrant. Thanks for the opportunity to remember Shel.


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