So this is my first Valentine’s Day since Drew died that I am celebrating with a man. That’s big. It’s been 3 years now. In those years since he died, I have celebrated with my best friend. Each year, I drove up to Dallas and we would go out somewhere nice, me and her, and sometimes her Mom and another girlfriend or two. Together we would experience a different kind of special day to celebrate love. The love of friendship and womanhood. I wrote about one of those on my blog here. It’s hard this year to be so far away from her. To break our tradition. To know that she may be the one having a harder Valentine’s Day this year than me, and I can’t be there.
I will always cherish the years where we have celebrated our friendship on this day, and the amazing bond of women in general. It brought so much love into my world and it taught me that this day really shouldn’t be about romantic love, but just about love.
So today, as I am embracing love not with my women friends but with Mike, I am reflecting back quite a bit.
Drew and I always did up holidays big. Every birthday celebrated with a week of pampering. Valentine’s Day was no different. One year he took me out to one of the fanciest restaurants in town, and had a driver take us there. The most I’d ever had anyone do for me before that was take me to Applebee’s, so you can imagine the awe of a five star restaurant. Another year, he cooked me a four course candlelit dinner at his apartment, complete with four separate wine pairings to go with each course. They were grand experiences that I will always cherish.
This year though, with someone new, I am enjoying a different sort of Valentine’s Day. Not one that is friends. And also not one that is just me and my man anymore. Now, there is a little girl to share it with. Little funny handmade valentine's and simple gestures. And with all the new, I am discovering yet again what a different person I am now, and what matters to me in this new life.
I used to care about having all the biggest bouquets of flowers and all the nicest restaurants. It used to matter to me that my partner went over the top on these special days. I’ll admit, I expected it, and damn near demanded it. I am not really that shallow by nature, but I had spent 7 years prior to Drew in an abusive relationship with someone who did not value me… and so I suppose, with Drew, I wanted that value to be shown tenfold to make up for things.
Even though it’s a silly holiday, I used to put an awful lot of value on it. I am finding as I have grown over these three years though, it doesn’t have the same weight - and neither does my past.
I am no longer that girl who is trying to compensate for old relationships gone bad. I know this because this year - for the first time EVER - I really gave very little thought to Valentine’s Day. It just wasn’t a huge deal. In fact, I completely forgot it even was Valentine’s Day until I came downstairs this morning. Mike had snuck out while I was still sleeping and brought me home flowers, which he put in a vase, along with a hand-drawn card laid in front of it. They were not $200 exotic flowers. There was nothing over-the-top. In fact we don’t even have dinner plans of any sort tonight… and if we do go out it won’t be somewhere fancy, as we are trying to watch our money. And I really, truly, like it that way.
I am happy without all the big showy displays now. And it isn’t that Mike hasn’t done those things too, he sure has, but I no longer expect or NEED them to know that I am loved. It was his thoughtfulness to surprise me with something nice that meant more than all the world. In an odd way, I am able to enjoy this day more now than I ever did with Drew. Because I’m not wrapped up in forcing some “perfect” version of the day anymore. I’ve had many beautiful kinds of Valentine’s Days in this "after" life, and I know now, it can be just as beautiful to share it with dear friends and kiddos as it can to share it with a new love.