Ah, glorious, beautiful love.
These days in suburbia, at least among my age group, we aren’t gushing about our boyfriends. Instead of long love letters, we are composing calendars and lists to organize the family. Instead of talking on the phone for hours, we talk after the kids go to bed and often fall asleep mid-sentence as the weariness catches up to us. Instead of getting fluttery and pink-faced when in the presence of our beloved, we get pissed that they chewing loudly or snoring. But sometimes, just sometimes, we are taken back to the days when new love was all-consuming, drenching us the oppressive elixir of desire. When we were young and free. When each of us only thought about the other. And we see that again in our partners and we…put it on pause… because we have to go walk the fucking dog.
Not all are married or in a relationship. Some in suburbia are searching for that special someone. Some have met the right one and are in the process of combining families, Brady Bunch-style. Some are relying on friends for intro’s or the occasional foray into match.com with mixed success. Some are, despite the years, still hot and heavy for each other (you know the ones, they can’t keep their hands off each other at parties and they use cute little nicknames for each other). Some are divorced and angry. Some are divorced and relieved. Some women, having grown tired of men and looking for men, are trying out women. Well, now. Just goes to show. There are any number of Valentine combinations out there.
Today, at my 2nd grader’s Valentine party, I was looking around and reading the candy hearts. So I thought I’d take some familiar candy heart sayings and change them up for today’s suburbanite:
SWEET TALK ANY TALK
FIRST KISS 3,589TH KISS
ASK ME ASK ME FIRST
LOVE YA TOLERATE YA
MY SUNSHINE MY LIFELINE
SWEETIE PIE HEY YOU
ROCK STAR HAS BEEN
WILD CHILD ASLEEP AT 9
BE MINE BE HOME SOON
HELLO GOOD NIGHT
TRUE LOVE TRUE LOVE
Lastly, I want to give tribute to a pair of sweethearts that I have known for going on 18 years. They are my husband’s parents, Richard and Betsy. Betsy was diagnosed with brain cancer more than 5 years ago and has been stumping doctors ever since with her unprecedented longevity and dogged determination to “see my granddaughters graduate from high school.” Unfortunately, it looks like her dream will not be coming true. She is currently in hospice care and we have been told the end is near. When I look at my youngest daughter, I see Betsy in her face. When I witness my older daughter’s love of math, I know that it’s all Betsy, a college math professor. Last night, as I heard my children both cry that they didn’t want her to die on Valentine’s Day, I was grateful they’d had a grandmother who loved them so fiercely. And sad that they had to lose her when they are both still so young.
I think of my own Valentine, my husband and partner. I plan on having many more Valentine’s Days with him. During our weekly happy hours, I have a sense of belonging and connection which can’t really happen during the frenzy of our weeks. And I know getting older involves caring for each other in different ways. Today, while thinking about hearts and candy kisses and lollipops, I am also thinking of fortitude, grace and the willingness to be in it for the long haul. To fight the good fight, love the big love and take the long, best journey together. No matter what.
And so, while talking to my father in-law today, I was reminded what that means. Sitting by her hospice bed, he knows his 48 years with his wife are coming to a close. He told his wife he loved her. No longer able to speak or move her body, she mouthed it back.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
Thanks to Barbara Paulsen at Mt. Hood Mama Iphoneography for the beautiful images and the top and bottom of this post. She gets all gushy when she talks about her husband, by the way.