Kim and I never really celebrate Valentine’s Day.
We make cards for each other, but we don’t tend to buy candy and flowers just because today is Valentine’s Day.
Kim gets up every morning early and lets the dog out and makes coffee for us. That says “I love you” better than a box of chocolate on a day you’re supposed to give a box of chocolate.
This year we ran up to the gym to workout on Valentine’s Day in the afternoon. On our way back we stopped at the grocery store. We needed cream for Kim’s coffee, coffee beans, and a few other items. I asked Kim if she wanted to come in or stay in the car. She wanted to stay in the car so I ran in while Kim stayed in the warm car. That’s how you say “I love you.”
We were going out with friends for dinner. I didn’t really feel like it, but Kim did so she had said yes when her friend called to invite us. I like her friend and her friend’s husband. I just didn’t want to go out on Valentine’s Day. Kim wanted to, so I said yes.
We actually don’t say “I love you” very much. At least not to each other. We used to say it all the time to the girls. We still say it to Maggie even though it makes her feel uncomfortable. She needs to hear it.
Kim and I don’t need to hear it. We need to feel it from each other and we do. We just do the things for each other that say “I love you” more than words.
Here in Cleveland it was 8 degrees Fahrenheit with a strong breeze on Valentine’s Day night. The coat I’d been wearing wasn’t warm enough and it wouldn’t fit over a sports coat. Kim looked in the closet and found a coat I hadn’t worn in a long time.
It was so warm and comfortable – I don’t know why I hadn’t worn it. In fact, I couldn’t think of the last time I wore it.
I couldn’t remember until I put my hand in the pocket to see what was there.
It was a sheet of paper with the prayers to be said at the grave site.
I last wore this coat nearly nine years ago at Elena’s funeral. I didn’t even read the words on the page. Just feeling this folded up paper in my pocket and glancing at it was enough to take me back there.
My eyes welled up. Kim asked, “what is it?” I showed her. I was suddenly so sad.
We stood without speaking and thought of Elena.
We went out to dinner and Kim’s friend mentioned Elena about half way through the appetizers. Suddenly, I was glad we were spending dinner with these people who had known Elena and who weren’t afraid to bring her up in conversation.
Valentine’s Day and the tree in Elena and Jan’s garden is filled with wooden valentines. Once again Susan and her son have made the valentines and hung them on the tree. Nearly nine years since the day Elena died and they still remember. That says “I love you” so much more than words.
Actually, today is nine years since Elena died. Kim has just left for church with her parents. I observe the day by writing. Soon we’ll all meet for breakfast and share memories.
During this past year I looked in the eyes of another father who had lost a young daughter. He said to me “don’t tell me that it will be ok.” He asked me not to tell him of my journey because he needed to take his.
I hugged him and said, “of course.”
It’s been nine years and Kim and I are still on this journey. Our journey is different than his.
I don’t know what I expected.
Thankfully, I’m not alone on this journey. Kim and I are there for each other in ways that say “I love you” so much more than words.