I made my middle daughter, Hannah, feel bad today.
It wasn’t my intention, it really wasn’t. After working for twelve hours and putting my $.02 (or more) on two stories and gathering/writing another full story I’d gotten more than a little persnickety.
It wasn’t just a lengthy and stressful work day, that’s happened before. I intentionally kept off social media and ignored phone alerts and all that most of the day. Sure, I wrote a post here about my favorite Valentine’s Day, but that day happened something like twenty years ago. I don’t recall last year being this odd for me, but this year . . . it just was.
It’s funny, because I was never a fan of the silly day. It’s a day. I truly buy into some of the conspiracy theories that say Valentine’s Day is a Hallmark holiday. It’s pushed, pressured, and prodded to sell lots of candy, cards, and dinner reservations. It’s not like I didn’t call some and send off gifts to people. I actually did that. I enjoyed that, too. Sure, my wife, Andrea, passed away from a resistant strain of pneumonia in March of 2011. Sure, she left on the day of our 18th wedding anniversary…that makes that day even worse. Not Valentine’s Day.
But I avoided the Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and God knows what else. It wasn’t because I missed Andrea . . . well, yeah, I miss her all the time. Sure. It was because of all the heartfelt sentiments posted on said Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest et. al.
Let me say, to start, I am not angry at any of these people. I’m not particularly angry at all, I guess. What it was, though, was very hard to see “Happy Valentine’s Day to my wife and best friend”; or “my husband/wife just sent me flowers/chocolates . . . I love her!”; “I have the best husband/wife”…you get the point. They’re sentiments I probably would have given myself. But working, late, and stressed and all of it I called my kids to warn them of my impending tardiness.
“Just order a pizza,” I told her, knowing how awful pizza sounds as a Valentine’s Day dinner.
“How was your party,” was my interrogative, wanting to hear how her day went.
“It was great,” she told me, recounting how they got to sit on the grass in 70 degree weather and watch the little kids get sugar highs and race around hitting each other. Then it happened:
“How was your Valentine’s Day, Dad?”
“Hannah, it’s just Thursday for me, kiddo. I don’t really have Valentines beside you guys . . . ”
It slipped out. I shouldn’t have said it, and it was one of about a dozen comments I regret from yesterday . . . the other 12 nothing to do with the holiday, by the way.
“oh…” That’s all Hannah could muster. “I’m sorry, Dad.”
I stumbled through the rest of the conversation . . . “It’s okay, kiddo, it really is. I’m just in a sour mood. I love you guys, you know that, and it’s not you. It’s not even the day it’s just . . . really, it is just Thursday for me. I’m working late, I don’t have dinner plans or movie or whatever. I’m having cold pizza for dinner after a twelve-hour day . . . It’s just not a holiday for me any more. I wish it was.”
The end of that statement rang pretty true. It wasn’t who I missed, I guess, so much as not having those plans. As much as I hate the holiday . . . and make no mistake, I hate being forced into something I don’t like . . . I miss the craziness as well. I’ve sent gifts, given the sentiments . . . but they were done early to avoid missing the day and it’s just not the same, I suppose. More than that, though, it’s that it tweaked that wound in my heart that still isn’t fully healed, may never heal completely. A friend said it best when they told me they miss the one they loved on this day . . . it doesn’t matter if and when you love someone else, there are always those silly memories to drag you back. Last year they didn’t hit me so hard because they were so vivid.
This year, I think it’s harder because those memories have started to fade.
Doesn’t change the fact that it’s another reason to spend money you don’t have, though . . . oops. That makes comment number 13.