Happy: A Quest for Life After Death

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

To say that I had low expectations for Valentine's Day this year would be a massive understatement.  One year from the day I lost my husband and best friend, my goal was survival.  Anything better than a nervous breakdown or a day spent under the covers would be deemed a success.

It turned out to be a good day.

That had very little to do with our carefully designed strategy for the day.  We considered a lot of options, but the boys and I ultimately decided to spend the day with Mat's sister and her kids at an indoor wave pool that we visited with Mat a few years ago.  A change of routine and scenery would protect us from well-meaning but ill-timed wishes for a happy Valentine's Day and the possible onslaught of emotion that could follow.

Under no other circumstances would it be a good idea to drive almost three and a half hours to stay at an indoor wave pool for two hours, but that's what we did, and under our circumstances it was a fine idea.  The day was all about passing the time, spending the day together, and being in a place where we had happy memories of Mat, and we did. The kids got along, complaints about the car ride were minimal, and we had some great sushi for dinner.

Valentine's Day didn't start, though, until we got home at 8:30 p.m. to a porch almost literally fully of flowers.  Women in my congregation had stopped by throughout the day, leaving one or two or a dozen flowers in a container stationed there by my brilliant friend Ellen.  The container was overflowing.  I don't know how many people brought flowers, but I suspect that it was dozens.

The picture of my porch was taken sometime in the late afternoon -- by the time I got home, there was more.  In addition to the flowers there was some of our favorite chocolate milk, a batch of cookies, boxes of chocolate, notes, cards, a balloon, and dinner.

The boys were just as awestruck as I was.  Colin put himself in charge of the candy, and Ian took one look and ran to find some vases.  He helped me arrange the flowers into six big bouquets including a special one for his room with purple, pink, and yellow flowers.  Ian very proudly put his arrangement next to his picture of Mat on a display shelf.  Then he ran around the house finding places to put bouquets, and finding pictures of Mat to put next to them.

In the end there was an onslaught of emotion, but not the kind I designed the day to avoid.  It turns out the possibility that I imagined for myself and my boys for the day was not nearly as good as the one my friends had in mind.

It was a happy Valentine's Day indeed.