Thursday, February 14, 2013

Would I still be your Valentine?


Jeremy was never big on Valentine's day.

He didn't hate it. We didn't ban it. He just wasn't overly romantic. He tried to be, and did some very sweet things, but most of the time we were too broke to really do anything anyway. And yet, on this Hallmark holiday celebrating love, it brings those little moments rushing back as if it were a big deal. Cause he was a big deal to me. 

Our first Valentine's, while we were still dating, I cut up hundreds of hearts and wrote different reasons why I loved him on each one. Every year after that, I re-used them in different ways, and would add more reasons why I loved him in the mix. I was thinking today that I'm not sure what I would add this year, because he's not evolving or changing anymore, I love him for all the same reasons. He is and forever will be the 31 year old, handsome and strong husband and father in my eyes. But then it also made me realize how much I have evolved and changed since then, and pieces of me that Jeremy will never get to see. And it made me wonder if he would love the girl I am now.

I don't love the way I used to. I'm more careful with it, but I also cherish it so much more. I'm more comfortable in my own skin. I actually enjoy cooking (who would have thought?!), and I know how to maintain a household pretty well on my own. I'm scared of things I didn't used to be scared of, and unafraid of things that used to terrify me. My support system has changed, my friends aren't the same. My priorities have shifted. My dreams and goals have evolved. Would you still love this version of me that has been beaten, broken down, and built back together?

Of course, I know the answer. Even though I'm not the same girl I was before he died, I know that essentially, emerging from grief has forced me to be a better version of myself....probably the version that Jeremy always saw in me. And even though I've grown for the better, I'm still me. I'm still the girl who has to sleep on the left side of the bed, who tries to please people too much, who quotes Friends in my head on a daily basis and then hears his laughter in the back of my head affirming how funny I am. I'm still the girl who wants Faith and Caleb to love the things their daddy loved, who cries at nearly every movie, and who holds onto all the precious and unforgettable quirks that he had. I'm still the girl terrified of fish, loves all things cotton candy, rollercoasters, pink, and slurpees. I'm still the girl that wants to tell our story. I'll always be that girl.

Yes, I am still convinced that no matter how much time separates us, no matter how much change comes between us, I would still be your Valentine.


  1. I have wondered these same things; truth is, tragedy changes a person; how could it not? I too, am not the same woman in so many ways...I often look up to heaven, smile and say, "Surprised, aren't ya Mart?" At the same time, I am the woman he always knew, truth is, that he is the ONLY one who knew the me that now, others get to see. I am not sure I would have ever let her out of the closet, until I had to; until she was busting down the doors to get out in the name of survival in the shadow of the loss of my Marty. It seems that there was no choice. I can be strong, funny, insecure, witty, sassy, sexy, wild and angry....but he knew those women too, but nobody else did. They didn't come out except in his presence; I think bc that is where I felt the safest. He was my haven. He loved me in all those ways and encouraged me in them; he encouraged that girl, those other Mary's to come out in public. I don't know why I kept them hidden? Too risky? What would others think of the "church girl" if she behaved in such a manner? What I can tell you now, is that the "church girl" has become much more real and approachable as my walls of self protection came crashing when my Marty left suddenly 2 years ago tomorrow. I guess I could have chosen to keep the walls up, but then I would not be able to evolve into the woman that God has called me to be, now.....I cannot fathom that this new life is a part of God's plan, but it must be, because that is what I have. To say I am not happy about it is an understatement. The "church girl" has to ask for help so often, has lost her main person to share with, thus causing me to share things with seemingly strangers called family, and has now become someone that others might actually see as human and real. I never would choose to have lost my Marty at 50 when it seems life was just getting started, but I am enjoying the freedom that comes with being myself out in the open and not just behind closed doors, even though it's a wee bit scary, esp without my safe haven to run to. Now I so often feel vulnerable and exposed.

  2. Hi Vee,

    It was the same between my husband and I. We didn't really celebrate either. We did wish each other happy valentines day and say, I love you, but we said that everyday when going to bed, no matter what. When we met he had a little boy aged 6 who stayed with us every second weekend and anytime he wanted to come over. I love him today like he is my own. He is now a strapping 6 footer. On the Valentine's Day after my husband died (January 9, 2012) he and a friend bought me a bouquet of roses. I thought was it pretty awesome for an 18 year old to think me when he is grieving too. He is an amazing young man.

  3. Dave & I weren't huge Valentine's Day fans either. (Didn't want to buy into yet another forced commercialized holiday.) But we would usually get each other a thoughtful card and I might get flowers if I was lucky.

    I remember one of the last Valentine's Days (the one before he was diagnosed with C and dying). We both stopped on the way home from work to buy each other a card and ran into each other in the store. We chided each other for waiting until the last minute and then showed each other the cards we were planning on getting for each other. Then we walked out without having to buy anything. It was funny & fun.

    I don't even remember Valentine's Day when he was sick, but after checking my old blog I see that he had a Catscan that day and we got up really early so he could eat breakfast. (Couldn't eat 4 hours before.) He had flowers ready for me. I dont know how he even got them, since he wasn't driving at the time, but there they were.) And then for the next few years I spent Valentine's Day alone.

    This year I'm seeing a guy. He's special, but I find it hard to even tell him I love him. I feel like once I do the rug will be pulled out from under me again. :-(

  4. my first year without my husband..he died in december leaving me & his 5 babies...its so hard, i used to make such an effort on valentines day..we both did...its so hard, i havent even been down to see him as i havent taken the kids there yet..i just cannot fathom how to tell the kids that daddy is buried there, i just cant!

    1. Linzi, your post touched me. I'm sorry you're hurting. I'm sorry for your loss. {hugs} Hug your babies and tell them you love them. Let that be enough. Let that be part of your comfort. They need your comfort, too. :) As for the cemetery, you don't 'have' to take them and you don't 'have' to go either if you're not up to it. Postpone that -- for a week, a month, a year, forever. There are no 'rules' in grief journeys. Don't compare your journey with someone else's and definitely don't 'do' grief the way someone else expects you to. You are only a couple months out, and well, the 'grief fog' hasn't lifted yet, I'm sure. It takes a while before the dizzying day-to-day gets more stable. It's been 2 1/2 yrs for me and this V-Day was harder than the 1st 2 - in a different way each time. I wish I had some helpful tips on how to make the everyday 'not hard' - but I have one child and haven't been able to figure it out very well. Hang in there, Linzi! They say it gets easier. In some ways, I can agree; in others, I think 'they' are lying! Ok, I do have one bit of advice - find other widows to get your support from... whether at a church group or a counseling group or here on this site (which I just recently discovered myself) and trust that we 'get it' where others do not. Sometimes it's just good to know you're not going through this alone and those who are not widowed have good intentions, but not necessarily good understanding. I will be praying for you. God Bless you!

  5. I can super relate.
    Craig and I were "grinders", (that was our term for being broke and for doing with what we had). We would re-use, re-cycle... arts and crafts was always a way that we'd show each other we cared. Craig was a romantic at heart, but we never indulged in expensive things ever, not even on Valentine's day. I am still that 'grinder', and I know he'd love me still, or maybe especially more.
    This is number 2 without him, and deep down in my beating, living heart, he'll always be my valentine.... it's through this loss that I gained the knowledge on how deep love actually goes. I can understand how to share openly, care more and love deeper...yet I am still the same girl.

  6. For those without the love of their lives on Valentines Day.
    I say - remind yourself of all of the reasons you are lovable. Right them down and put them in the biggest, mushiest, sweetest Valentines Day card you can find. Then address it and mail it to yourself. When it arrives sock it away for this day next year and open it up to read -why they loved you so much.

    My love and I were not big Valentines day people either. We spread our love around all through the year. I was kind of glad when I remembered what day it was today that I didn't have to mourn another BIG one.

    Yet - I think of him and all of the ways he loved me. I remember that I was loved BIG and I am grateful for that.

    Like Valerie - I have someone I am seeing who loves me. They say it all the time. I have a lot of trouble responding. It is like my heart won't let me. I know I love them. I just can't love that BIG love. It is too scary. I find I think I don't want to go through it again - the pain of it. But I am trying.
    I am giving love a chance.
    My love said "love again" - so all I can answer is . . . I am trying.

    1. great idea about the writing it down for ourselves to see! thanks for sharing that.

  7. Wow, reading this I felt like you were reading my mind. Would he love the beaten, broken down, and built back together me? Would he recognize the person I am now? Would he be proud? Would he understand just how tired I am? But I've started to swap those questions a bit. Do I love the beaten, broken down, and built back together me? Do I recognize the person I am now? Am I proud of me? Do I understand why I am so tired? I'm having a hard time these days recognizing me and who I am now, feel like I don't know this girl at all. Everything changed that day, my entire identity and my life landscape are unrecognizable to me.
    Its been 14 months, just wondering when I will start to understand the new me. I should also note that I gave birth to our only child 7 weeks after he died........everything changed.....