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  • Debi Nasalroad

Valentine's Day Widow


Yesterday, I was certain I would be okay today on Valentine's Day. I already had the plan: Spend the night at with our grandkids Charlotte and Eli so their parents can go out then come home early Saturday morning to get grandson Logan's 7th birthday party ready (he's a Valentine's Day baby!).


My plan was going just fine until I started going through things in my bedroom.


A couple of days ago, I cleaned off the top of his dresser. I didn't do anything with it other than put everything in a couple of plastic bags and add it to the pile of bedroom clutter that had been accumulating for the past two months. Last night, I gathered it all up and loaded it onto the living room couch, forcing me to go through it since I would be having guests over on Saturday.


I wasn't sure what was in the pile. It started before he died, but it wasn't much at that point except for the clothes, shoes and whatever else he left lying on his side of the bed. I began adding to it. I didn't care to hang up my clothes, put my shoes away, organize anything, go through his things, or clean up after my trips to California. Everything just got shoved over there. It was bad. It took over my entire couch and part of the floor in front of it.

One shopping bag/cardboard box/bin/suitcase/duffel bag/trash can/Christmas gift bag at a time, I went through it all. What I found was a lot more than I expected. I found the Valentine card I gave him in 2018 in one of the bags of things from the top of his dresser. I found clean clothes of his that hadn't been put away. I found dirty clothes, holey socks, receipts, pocket knives, and more memories than I remembered having.


Suddenly, Valentine's Day felt empty. The time it took to go through everything put me behind to spend the night at the grandkids' house, so I rearranged the plans and brought them here for the night. That way, I could finish going through the pile, force myself to clean my office/spare bedroom so kids could play in there tomorrow, and not push myself for time tomorrow.


Great plan. Actually, it did turn out to be. I had more time to cry and go through everything slowly. I was in my own environment on my first Valentine's Day in 21 years without him. I could give myself that space to ride the wave of grief that unexpectedly hit.


Besides for the pile, Valentine's Day wasn't so bad. I took the kids to the bowling alley for dinner and to let them play some video games (AKA play the candy machine that "play til you win" and get loaded with sugar). It was my first time being back there on a Friday night since he died. Friday nights were his long-time men's league night. Most of the men on the league hadn't seen me since the funeral so I'm sure that was quite a shock. In general, I thought I seemed fairly upbeat and happy. Mainly because I was. I enjoyed being there and seeing his friends and having them check up on me. The kids had a blast, the pizza was good, and the company was great.


When I got home from picking the kids up, the local flower delivery van was in my driveway. I didn't recognize it since it is just a plain white van with no logo, but she was going to the driver's door after having been at my door, but she was getting more flowers! She had already taken some to the porch. A got a beautiful bunch of rainbow roses from my amazing kids, Heather sent from flowers for Charlotte, and, I got a pink rose and a chocolate heart from "Henry."


I do not know any Henry that I can think of. I do now know anyone whose nickname is Henry. I can't think of any inside jokes where I call someone Henry. I have no idea who Henry is.


One of my immediate responses was to think that someone was playing a little prank because why else would someone do that barely two months after my husband died? Maybe one of my friends thought it might cheer me up to get a Valentine from some stranger?


Or maybe there really is a "Henry" who sent me a Valentine.


This is the one that I can't wrap my head around. I am what I can only describe as a fresh widow. Right now, I'm totally down to meeting new people and getting to know some I already know better, but mentally and emotionally, there is no way I could possibly even attempt anything other than just good friends. Eventually, yes, but at this point, it isn't fair to anyone involved - myself included! - to mess with the baggage I'm lugging around. I'm slowly unpacking it, but I don't know when I'll be ready. I want to be. I just don't know when that will be. I don't know what the magical sign will be. Or whatever will let me know.


The hardest part of all this is I have no idea how to talk to people anymore. I am great at business conversation or if I don't expect to have much contact with someone again. I'm great at talking to people if it is all about them.


When it comes to writing, I'm an open book. My words flow like water, and most of the time, I have no idea what is going to come out until it's already on the screen in front of me. If I am in front of someone who wants to talk to me, or if I want to actually reach out and say "hello" to someone, I clam up. I don't know what to say or how to say it. My words are jumbled, my face gets flushed. I don't make sense half the time.


So when I got the Valentine from "Henry," it brought out that whole set of thoughts of my future. There is going to come a day when I want to be open for having love again, but I don't know how. I have been out of it for so long!


Before Phil, I was single for almost four years after I left my daughters' father. And, maybe this is too much information, but I decided after two years of being single, that I was going to remain celibate until I found the right person. And I did. Then I married him.


Before my divorce, I had been in relationships either short- or long-term since I was 15. I never dated.


Truth is, the best way I found love was with Phil. We became friends, and what developed was something that cannot be explained. All I know is that I want it to be that way again. I just want to be friends with someone, and if we fall in love, great. I won't be looking for love. That's all I know. If love is meant to be, it just happens. This I know from experience.


When Phil and I talked about what we would do if one of us died young, we never really discussed what we would do regarding remarriage or dating again because that isn't what we planned. We just planned to grow old together so we didn't need to worry about that. I do know that although we had that plan, we both said we would want the other to be happy.


I want to be happy and loved again. I want to love again. What an amazing life it would be if lightning did strike twice! To have that love again, I just can't imagine.


That kind of love never goes away. No matter what my future holds, my heart will always hold a place for Phil. He showed me what real love is.


Happy Valentine's Day, honey. I love you always.


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