The first year, Valentine's Day fell just 18 short days after Tom died. I was numb, barely functioning. I had purchased a card early that year, it was a great card, one I knew he would love, but I don't remember what it said. I put that card in with him when he was cremated. My bestie and I went to the Veteran's Home to dance with the vets because Tom's friend and drum teacher had asked for ladies to visit. I could barely function but my bestie danced some and it seemed like a good idea to reach out and give something back on such a day.
The second year, the members of my spousal loss bereavement support group planned our monthly potluck dinner for that day. I brought cupcakes and made toppers that had the names of each of our spouses on them. It was a gracious safe way to spend, what for most of us, was our second holiday without our spouses. I felt grateful to have something to do which honored the day and the love.
The third year, this year, most people expect (as do I) that I would be "over it". It is also a week day which changes the dynamic. I decided last week that I wasn't going to make a big deal about the day, I wasn't going to focus on what others had and I no longer have. (And truly I am very happy for those that are part of a loving relationship--shout your joy and happiness to the universe, love should always be celebrated). I made a plan to have dinner with Tom. Yes, I know that sounds creepy, but really it isn't. So I bought two filets and planned to make a nice meal. I lit all the candles in the house and put on music, specifically the play list of songs that relate directly to Tom, mainly songs that his band, RuMoRs, covered. I wanted this evening to be spent focusing on our relationship, our marriage, and our love. Even though he is no longer present, our love very much continues.
So I turn on the music and hit the "Tom" playlist. The first song up is "Crying" by Roy Orbison. That should have been a clue of things to come. That song wasn't even on the play list. For that matter I didn't even know that song was on my phone.
I had dinner listening to his music, smiling and crying. Big surprise, huh? It was to me. Every song that meant something to us was on that play list. The tears flowed, but not ugly, snotty tears. Different tears. I was able to sit and be with my feelings--the happiness and the sadness and the gratitude. It was cleansing. As I sat at the dinner table, in my spot (which I no longer sit at, I've claimed Tom's spot), I enjoyed a good meal--you know that Tom would be all over that! And I cried. Before I knew it, I had a dog in my lap licking away my tears (or just trying to get closer to the steak, I'm not sure which). And then this song played:
It was the music for our first dance at our wedding. Whenever a song played that RuMoRs covered, I would smile and sing along--I know them all so well having run the board for so many gigs. And we played a few gigs on Valentine's Day too. One year at a Valentine's Day gig, each male member of the band sang a song dedicated to his wife. Tom sang "Color My World." It's impossible to be sad when there's a RuMoRs song in the air. I can see him sitting on his throne behind the kit, with a smile on his face, be-bopping along to whatever he was playing. He LOVED to play and it brought him such joy. I jumped up and danced a few times too.
I was surprised by the emotion today. I've done some really big stuff lately in my journey to move forward. I've been forward focused. So I didn't expect the tears. One thing I've learned about mourning is to expect the unexpected. It was important to me to have this Valentine's Day dinner with Tom. As my grief counselor said, this may very well be the last Valentine's Day dinner with him. Next year I may be with someone new. From her mouth to god's ear.
And Tom did not disappoint. He sent a Valentine my way today: