I don’t particularly care for Valentine’s day. No, I’m not bitter and yes, I received plenty of Valentine cards throughout grade school. Actually, I’m a hopeless romantic and love being in love. I just don’t like the idea of the media and Hallmark telling us that once a year we need to profess our love for our significant other. I’d rather receive flowers for no reason, not because a date on the calendar says it is time to show me how much you care. That being said, I always purchase a card for my mom, godmother, daughter and my little boy. I blame my mom for this – that woman would send her loved ones a card for Groundhog Day if there was one (and I’m sure somewhere there is) and now I have carried on that tradition. I love receiving cards via snail mail but it saddens me that sending cards is becoming another casualty of our advanced technology. Like the lost art of writing, receiving a card in the mail will be something the next generation reads about in the history books.
As a mom, I’ve always enjoyed the homemade cards that my children would make in school. My daughter is now 18 and will be going to college soon, so the days of homemade cards with hand prints and finger paint are gone. But she almost always remembers special occasions with a card for me and surprised me this year with a very touching hand written letter commemorating our 18th Valentine’s Day together. For those of you that don’t know, my little boy, who is now 8, is severely disabled. A recent progression of his illness has made it impossible for him to return to school. So there will be no more handmade cards coming home in his little backpack from school. I realize he never made the cards entirely on his own, he physically can’t, but there was always a part of him in those little cards that he made for me. Since he isn’t in school anymore, I assumed this year someone in my family would help Joey make a card for me – or even buy one and sign his name to it. As anxious as a small child on Christmas morning, I waited for the mail to arrive and when it did and there wasn’t a card from my little guy, I was sad. No, I was heartbroken. Silly, isn’t it? We are talking about a holiday almost solely created by marketing geniuses whose mascot is a fat cherub with a weapon. But none of that mattered. It was about 10:00 p.m. on Valentine’s Day when I realized that I wasn’t going to get a card from my son. I was embarrassed by the tears running down my face, but I have a rule that I will never apologize or feel foolish for how I feel, no one should. Those are your feelings and you own them. I couldn’t help how I felt, and I know that those tears were much more than not getting a card from my little boy. Some of the tears were because he missed exchanging Valentine’s with his friends at school – and probably would never do that again. Other tears were because I will never hear Joey tell me that he loves me. There were tears because I wonder if he understands how much I love him when I whisper to him, “I love you” countless times throughout the day. A few tears were because I can’t do a damn thing to stop this disease and all the things it has robbed my sweet boy of. Walking, talking, standing, sitting, swallowing – he knows none of that. I was crying because I wanted a card from my little guy, even if someone else bought it and signed his name to it – I wanted a card that Joey had at least touched. Something I could look back on when he’s no longer here.
I read once that life will break your heart. It’s true.