I just glanced at the clock and read the time: 2:14. Why does everything remind me of Valentine's Day? The upcoming one-year anniversary of Mat's passing is weighing on me like a grand piano. It's getting hard to breathe under this thing.
People in my bereavement support group agree that these days would be best taken off the calendar.
Official announcement: There will be no February 14th this year. The date will skip directly from the 13th to the 15th, and February will end on the 30th. February is already such a flexible month, expanding and contracting as necessary -- why not just take advantage of that?
It seems easier -- although not easy -- to think about the fact that Mat has been gone for almost a year now than to live through this one day.
It's not as though February 14th will somehow remind me of his passing more than the empty space next to me in bed already does. And yet Mat's passing -- and the excruciating detail of the events of that day -- become more present with me every day as I approach the one-year mark. I feel as though I am approaching a hot stove, and on the 14th I will put my hand directly on it.
The heart-shaped reminders in card displays and candy aisles are not helping. Why is the whole world celebrating on the worst day ever?
It was then-nine-year-old Ian who said, "Why did Dad have to die on Valentine's Day, of all the days?" Good question.
Valentine's Day is not much of a holiday -- it's a Hallmark holiday that plenty of people despise. (Let's organize! Down with Valentine's Day!) Heaven help the people whose loved ones died on a real holiday. My heart hurts for them.
Now it's 2:41. There are those numbers again.
We are coming up with a strategy for this dreaded day. It's a bit loosely shaped right now, but it involves the boys skipping school to avoid Valentine's parties, and doing something that helps us feel connected with Mat. I suggested handing out sugar cookies and sandwiches to homeless people near Mat's office. He would like that, I think. Ian liked that idea but thought we should also do something fun that Dad would have enjoyed, like going snowboarding. Seven-year-old Colin suggested that he get presents.
Maybe we'll do all three. I'm pretty sure we won't do my original idea, which was staying in bed with the covers over our heads. I think we can do better than that.
I hope we can.