Valentine’s is only one day a year. One day. And yet, it’s one of the most talked-about and anticipated days on the calendar. In the world of holidays, Valentine’s is one of the top. And why wouldn’t it be? I mean chocolate! Flowers! Steak! A million ways to say “I love you” on one day.
One day in 2009, I put on my makeup frantically in my room, in my student house down the street from campus. House is polite. It was a shack. I tried to play it off like it wasn’t a big deal. I’d been through it so many times before. I’d given up on finding love at that point, in my young yet jaded age. I was getting ready to graduate, then it’d be back to my hometown for the next step, whatever that would be. A black tunnel in my future. I’d already been abandoned by so many guys who were either too “busy” or too far away to make it work. I wasn’t interested in going through that again when I was just about to leave.
But you and I had been chatting on Facebook before that date, and I found myself warming to you. I was convinced it would be fruitless, yet I found myself laughing at our conversations. Musing over the things we had in common. That day, I could barely keep my hand steady to apply my mascara. I asked my roommate so many times if my hair and makeup looked okay, I’m pretty sure she wanted to slap me by the time we left.
I was trying desperately to play it cool as we walked toward campus. I was over it, not planning to fall in love. But my babbling betrayed me, I think. I stood in the hallway with my friends and waited. I paced. I was such a loser.
And then I saw you.
You walked up with your big smile. I think you were trying to play it cool too, and you were doing a better job than I was. Maybe you hadn’t been hurt before like I had. Maybe your expectations weren’t conflicting with your desires like mine were. We exchanged friendly small talk, then headed upstairs to the party.
It was a Valentine’s party, one that my sorority put on each year. It’s formal title was “Crush Party”, where you could be set up with someone, or you could bring a date of your own. It’s informal name was “Handcuffs and Heineken”. We arrived at the party room and were promptly tethered together. We had joked about this part on Facebook. You were intrigued by the idea, and promised me I could go to the bathroom by myself. Swoon.
We found a table with my roommate and her date, but they soon disappeared. In fact, everyone disappeared. The room was empty. It was just you and me. And a bowl of gummy candies.
We talked, you and I. For hours. Alone. Just you and me. We talked about everything. I can’t even remember all the things we talked about. I know we talked about Star Wars. I think my roommate tried to talk to me at some point. But she wasn’t there. No one was, except for you and me.
One day in 2012, we were on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. We had already been to Puerto Rico, Barbados and St. Lucia.
It was night time, and we were floating in international waters, and you took me to the ship’s French restaurant for the absolute best meal I’ve ever had in my life, even to this day.
You asked me if I wanted to take a walk on the deck, in the moonlight. I said no, because I was full. I just wanted to go back to our cabin and digest, but you pleaded. You REALLY wanted to take a walk, and you wanted me to go with you. I conceded, and we went for a stroll on the deck.
The air was warm with a lovely breeze, and though there were some clouds in the sky, we could still see the stars. As we looked up at them, you asked me if I’d ever seen one that bright. Confused, I turned to you to ask, “which one”? But you were no longer standing there. You were on your knee, with a white box. Inside was the most beautiful star I’ve ever seen. And you asked me to marry you. It was a blur, but I remember giggling and maybe even hyperventilating a little bit. And I said yes.
One day in 2013, I awoke feeling sick to my stomach with nerves. The entire morning I was lead by the hand and basically force-fed to keep up my strength. The hairdresser. The makeup. The photographer. The dress. I was surrounded by my best friends and my closest family. I wore the wrong shoes as I left the house, but there was no time to change. It was raining. We stopped, and I watched as more family and friends walked past.
Then, it was go time. They helped me inside, lifted my dress away from the puddles. There was no time to catch my breath before I heard the harpist play. And with my mother on one side and my father on the other, I walked down the aisle.
And then I saw you.
You stood there with your big smile, and maybe a tear in your eye. I tried to focus on you, but I almost tripped. My dress was really big. You took my hand, and you told me I looked beautiful. We listened as the minister spoke. Then we spoke to each other. You promised me that you would always honour and love me. I promised you that I would care for you in sickness and in health.
You put that shining star on my finger, and I wrapped the moon around yours.
And you kissed your bride.
One day in 2015, I woke up feeling strange. There was a pop, and a sensation I’d never experienced before. I waddled into your room (since there was only room on our bed for me, the cat and the Snoogle). I told you it was time.
It was a long day, back and forth to the hospital for antibiotics, and finally admittance. You were my rock, holding my hand, swaying with me, walking me up and down the halls. When the pain was too much to bear, you shed the tears that I for some reason couldn’t.
And you watched as our son was brought into the world.
You cut the cord, and you held him to your bare chest as I was cleaned up. And you told me you loved me so much. You were a father, and it looked good on you.
One day, we will watch our son leave the nest. One day, we will take our first post-retirement trip. One day, we will sit on our porch and remember decades of love, laughter, family, friends and life.
Even though Valentine’s Day is only one day, it is special. Because every day with you is special. Every day, you greet me with a smile, a kiss, a hello or a goodbye. Every day, you encourage me to go after the things that I want. Every day, you insist that I’m a good mother who is doing a good job. Every day, you prove yourself a wonderful husband and father.
Every day, you remind me of why I was so nervous on our first date. I was jaded, tired, and you showed me that I was worthy of loving and being loved. Every day, you remind me of why I walked down the aisle towards you. I wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with you. I still do. So every day, I’m going to remind you of why you loved me enough to show me the stars.
I love you, Chris. Happy Valentine’s Day.
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