“By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.” Song of Solomon 3:1
A parade of holidays had marched past my aching heart, demanding my attention. The month after my husband died of cancer it was Thanksgiving Day and hunting season. The next month was Christmas with all its merriness. January brought the reflection of New Years Day and the muted joy of birthdays for three family members. I braced myself for my own birthday in February and I carefully made other plans the evening my church friends had a Sweetheart Supper. So why did Valentine’s Day pick up my heart and throw it into a pit of self-pity?
For one thing I forgot it. Not totally, for I couldn’t avoid seeing the stores’ stock of roses and candy and hearts of all sorts. My eyes weren’t blinded to the rows of cards expressing love. But on the actual holiday of Valentine’s Day I forgot. When I did remember, a flood of emotion threatened to wash me onto the sofa to curl in a ball of memories and grief.
Why was this day, of all the holidays thus far, so difficult? I wondered. Slowly I unraveled my thoughts and feelings. It wasn’t that I was used to a spectacular Valentine’s Day. It was another day of work for my husband, and as the years passed the cards dwindled, even if our love grew stronger. Candy? Rarely. Roses? Rarer still. Candlelight dinners? He didn’t care for them—said he preferred to see what he was eating. So why did my tears fall fast and furious on this day? Finally the answer seeped into my heart. I wasn’t just grieving for what had been, but for what had not been. I grieved for the roses that stayed in the store, the cards that were never signed, the romantic suppers that didn’t happen. I didn’t fault my husband. I’d grown to accept his ways without making a big deal about it. The giving of gifts was not his language of love; nor was it mine for that matter.
But on this holiday I was faced with finality again. What was done is done. What was not done will never be done. Oh how I wished to cook a good homemade meal for my Valentine! And just for once, eat it by candlelight.