On the eve-eve of Valentine’s Day 2019, I went through my Valentine’s Day stash of friendship cards getting ready to send one to my pen pal when the card with the bold red script that read, ‘For My Husband’ caught my eye. I began reading the card that goes, ‘Being married to you has been the finest thing that’s ever happened to me.’ I bought this card for my husband so many years back that I don’t even remember which year I bought it. All I know was that the sentiments touched me, but I ended up finding another card that was probably purple and seemed a better fit for that year. I bought both cards, and I gave him the other card for that Valentine’s Day, and this card got filed away for the following year. That’s where it’s been safely stashed away all these years.
I continued reading the rest of the card, and it concludes with, ‘I’m thankful to be able to share my life with you! I love you. Happy Valentine’s Day’ and I knew I would be giving this card to my husband this year even if he is no longer with me. I will still fill out the card, and I will place it on his piano next to his urn.
I am sad that I won’t be getting a card back from him this Valentine’s Day or this year for my birthday or our wedding anniversary. Although we didn’t exchange cards last anniversary, he was too sick to make it to the store to select a card. We don’t exchange gifts for special occasions, but every year right before our anniversary and Valentine’s Day, we made a date to go to the card shop together, and we would go to the respective aisles, and we would select each other’s card. Then, on the night before the special day, we would take our cards and fill them out and exchange cards right before bedtime. This ritual was dearer to me than any gift exchange. We did this for almost as long as the 34 years we’ve been married.
I may not have a Valentine’s Day card from Markie this year, but I know he feels the same way about me as I do about him. We told each other “I love you” in some form or another every day at least once a day. We may have said, “ILY,” or one of his favorites was “Ditto” or “I love you more,” and I treasure every single version of this sentiment. As I thought about his final days, though, I can’t remember hearing him actually say, “I love you” back. I know I told him numerous times, but I was so busy directing the slew of visitor traffic in and out of his hospital room and the medical staff and tending to his comfort and needs and trying to communicate with him when he became less lucid that now in hindsight I don’t remember whether he actually told me he loved me, too.
That thought may have dampened my spirit for a minute, but it didn’t break my heart because, as the card goes on to say, ‘You have been my partner, my lover, and my very best friend. Knowing I have your love lets me face life’s challenges, secure in the knowledge that there is a special person who thinks about me, supports me, and cares for me more deeply than anyone else…’ and I rest assured, comforted to remember that he was/is that person to me always. I know that even if he didn’t say those three little words, I know that I am the one he loved always and forever.
Christmas morning he visited me briefly in my dream, and when we embraced for the last time, he said to me, “I will think of you” and, at that moment I thought that was a strange choice of words to say, but now that I found this card, it all makes perfect sense. He is that special person who thinks about me. He always did, and now I am comforted that he, his spirit, always will.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Markie, you are my valentine, the man of my heart!