Today marks the second week my husband's been out of the hospital. Saturday was a really big day, because MiL played chauffeur (makes her happy; keeps her out of my hiar and things go more smoothly for all) and we went grocery shopping. We hit Sam's for some meat buying and we picked up lots of berries and a plush throw for Ben to use to keep warm while watching the Olympics (it's been difficult keeping the temp above 68 since Monday, but today we got it to 74! YAY!). We picked up cat food and a heart-shaped box of candy for Nicole, the PA who ordered the CAR Scan that discovered the blood clot in his lung. She's not someone I'd pick even as an acauaintance, but she saved his life so she deserves somet hanks.
And he asked me what I wanted for Valentine's Day,
Valentine's Day was a big deal in my family. Dad never ever forgot it (except one year when he was on a business trip--and he got razzed so hard he got Mom candy and flowers next time, and candy for my grandmother and me). So as a little girl, I dreamed of being someone's Valentine, loved by someone the way my Dad loved my mother (he wasn't a terrific father in some ways, but he was an adoring and faithful husband).
Well, I was dateless in high school (6 years of all girls' schools make it hard to meet boys) and in college I would argue with with fellow students if I thought they were wrong--which didn't make me popular. Neither did getting the highest marks in the class on papers and exams (I knew the professors meant well, but it made life difficult). Flirting wasn't something I understood. And I was pretty enough, but not in the long-legged, skinny Twiggy way, preferably with straight as a board blonde hair. Nope. I was short, curvy and my hair remained stubbornly red and stuck somewhere between wavy and curly. In short I was a typical Irish-American colleen. I was so not fashionable.
When I joined sf fandom and the SCA, I discovered that some men actually liked smart women who didn't always agree with them. And some of them didn't think a body like Marilyn Monroe's was inferior to Twiggy. My first husband didn't get Valentine's Day at first, until his best friend explained it to him. And he always remembered after that.
What does being someone's Valentine mean to me?
To the lonely, unfashionably curvy young woman, it meant someone thought I was special, that even if I was never gonna grace the cover of Vogue, someone liked me just the way I was. It didn't matter if it was a card or a note or single flower picked up on the corner from a street vendor--it was the thought that he remembered and wanted me, me of all people (the girl whose father constantly reminded her she wasn't graceful, that she slumped, that she'd be so pretty if she just lost some weight; I was actually a normal, healthy weight, in case anyone's wondering) and loved me enough to see past my flaws.
The first year Ben and I were a couple, he could only afford a single rose. And it was the most beautiful rose I ever saw in my life. When he was deployed--even in places like Saudi Arabia and Turkey--he never forgot a birthday or a Valentine's Day. Roses arrived at the library on my birthday. Then there was the purple and black lace teddy--my boss told me to open the package at the reference desk because everyone was excited. He grinned from ear to ear when I did. A lot of years we were so dead broke due to my lack of employment that I only got a card or a single rose. But I always got a kiss and a warm embrace.
This year, when he asked me what I wanted for Valentine's Day, I burst into tears in the middle of the grocery store. Because I already had my Valentine's gift. Right there in my arms. alive and breathing and whole after two long terrifying weeks in the hospital recovering from open heart surgery, two blood clots (one in his lung) amd pneumonia/ And still he keeps asking me what I want. And no matter how many times I tell him I have it, he still asks.
But the truth is, I do have what I want: him. We're being foreclosed. We're bankrupt--but I have the most important gift ever: him.