Roses are red, hearts are blue!

As a Minnesotan, I have resigned myself to the fact that winters are tough! Brutal cold, a wind that literally chills you to the bone and darkness that seems to last far too long. And in the midst of winter comes February, which for me tends to gnaw at my heart until sometime after the fourteenth, Valentine’s Day!

This was the day that seems to have been created by the card companies as “lovers day”. The day in which those that don’t have someone at their side, are reminded of all that we have lost or don’t have. The holiday itself has been around for many years and doesn’t have the most flattering meaning but in today’s world, it is a day to show affection to loved ones with gifts, candy, and flowers.

I remember early in our marriage, Randy would send roses or a beautiful floral arrangement to my work as a reminder that I was special and loved. It became a little bit of a competition to see who’s loved one could out-do the next. One year, shortly after we were married I was trying to be a penny pincher, acting responsible and practical. “Randy,” I said, “roses are so incredibly expensive around Valentine’s Day, let’s skip the flowers this year. I know you love me and I don’t need flowers to feel that.”

Secretly and unbeknownst to me, I really thought he would disregard my practicality or dismiss my strong orders, but I sat through the entire day at the bank without a single delivery to my desk. That night, I confessed that I missed that feeling of being singled out with a special vase on my desk. He felt defeated, “but you said…..”. I interrupted, “I know what I said and I know what I tried to mean, but at the end of the day, flowers really do something to my heart.” The next day, promptly at 9:00 a.m. special delivery by the owner of the flower shop, was a dozen beautiful red roses. The card read, “Just because. Love R”.

So how does a person that has lost their Valentine survive this holiday? Well, I certainly do not have it figured out but little changes in my habits and mental frame of mind have made this day a little less painful.

First, I learned a long time ago, that if you want to love others, then you have to make sure you love yourself too. It’s hard to show and feel love for others when you’re unhappy with yourself. So Valentine’s Day is a good time to do something “loving” for yourself. A new hairstyle? A massage? A manicure or pedicure? Coffee with a friend or a FaceTime chat with a loved one. Plan ahead and make it a priority. Simply setting aside some time during the day for “YOU” and only you can show the much love you need on the 14th.

Another tip that has worked for me is to just call it out. It’s a day that brings sadness, not happiness and I need to say that out loud. I don’t like being without Randy on Valentine’s Day. I miss him and want him here with me. I know it’s not possible and it’s not realistic, but recognizing my emotion and my longing to hear his voice, touch his hand, and feel that Valentine’s Day kiss is hard. It’s not fair, it’s not easy and I don’t like it one bit. There…I said it, I typed it and I felt it. Next day, please! In other words, sweeping it under the rug or ignoring that day exists does nothing for me and my wanting to move ahead in my grief. Calling it out, allows me to feel sad for a bit, giving myself permission to notice the day without him. But, not to dwell on it and move forward the next day.

As I share in my book, “Finding Norm” not all days are days we move forward. Some side steps or even steps backward but at least we are moving!

One final thought I’ll share in this blog is that social media is not a good friend to me on the 14th Pictures of romantic dinners, large floral arrangements sprawling all over the person’s countertop, and photos of kisses only cut my heart deep. I made a vow 6 years ago to skip social media leading up to and immediately after Valentine’s Day. It was not intended to be an act of denial but rather taking my mind in a different direction these few days. Focusing on those around me that show love each and every day.

Roses are red, but on Valentine’s Day, some of our hearts are blue. But this year, how about planning ahead and doing something kind for yourself and share your time with others around you. It’s ok to be vulnerable and let others know if this day is hard for you.

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