Growing up, Valentine’s Day was a special day for me that included the typical people telling you, and you them ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ and getting and receiving candy. I remember in Kindergarten I passed out my cards and a heart-shaped sucker to my classmates. I smiled as I notice my seat was filling up with Valentine’s candy. One from each student in my class.
When I showed my treats to mommy she said, “Wow! Looks like you have enough treats to last all month. However, as a five-year-old, I felt like I had a lot of treats for just one day. So I objected explaining to my mom that today is Valentine’s Day and these are my treats and it is only fair that I get to celebrate by eating them all today. Of course, my mom wasn’t about to let that happen. So she told me she was sorry that I couldn’t go with them to play in the snow or drink chocolate the next day. I explained that I was going. She said she wanted me to go, but if I eat all the candy, I would have a tummy-ache and couldn’t go.
Therefore, I decided not to eat all my candy at once and even shared with my siblings. When I was older, Valentine’s Day was more than just a superficial expression of love and candy. By the time I was in high school I was a little afraid of Valentine’s Day. Because it seemed to have meant more than it did in the previous years as my friends were dating and I was crushing on a guy, but I didn’t want to express any Valentine’s love to him. In my eyes, he was just one of my guy friendships that grew into more just by word of mouth. It was not even something I choose to tell my parents about. It was just a school thing, he was a jock, and I was very popular.
I remember shopping for cards and I found the perfect cards for my two best friends, Raymond and Tobias. Yes, my besties in high school were of the male gender. Guys confused me and I wanted to sort through the mystery of them by keeping a few close (lol). I remember picking their brains daily. They were the typical guys but had the intellectual side. Kevin (more than Friend) had a little more substance when we talked. He lived right around the corner from my dad, so he would walk me to my dad’s and we would have more opportunities to talk.
However, I stood in a Card isle and couldn’t find a single card that expressed our level of friendship. I was in no way expressing the awe-filling love for him nor was I expressing the causal friendship/Valentine deal and Valentine’s Day was less than 10 hours away. The next day as I did work on the school newspaper, I was typing up Valentine’s wishes and I saw he had placed one in for me and he included the word love. OMG! It felt awkward because I didn’t know what to do. He had journalism with me the next period and brought me flowers with balloons. I didn’t have anything to give.
After school, we walked to my dad’s and my dad wasn’t home so I decided against everything that made me, me, to take him up on his offer to wait at his house. February in Chicago was always very cold. As I walked in I realized that it was just me and him. I was so nervous that I didn’t even take my coat off. I recall asking him when his mom was coming home. I sat on the couch for nearly 45 minutes with my book bag, coat, hat, scarf, and gloves still on. He had called my dad’s house about 9 times for me every 5 minutes and on the 9th time, my dad answered.
He walked me to my dad’s and about 100 feet from my dad’s house he told me that it was okay that I didn’t get him anything, and he knows that I’m a “good girl” but he wanted me to know that he thinks he is in love with me. I remember saying thank you and giving him a quick hug as we parted. That was our sophomore year. The next day, I told him that I wasn’t ready to be more. I wasn’t ready for those kinds of emotions and feelings. I knew girls who were already pregnant. Girls who were constantly sad and frustrated with their “boyfriend.”
Although our friendship changed, we had our stolen moments. He eventually became my first kiss and someone I shared my dreams with. During college, it was even more scary, because I did have a boyfriend. However, he was many miles away at an army base in Georgia and I was attending Northern Illinois University in Dekalb. I always loved to receive his gifts. I remember walking into Cole hall then sitting in the back of my political science class, opening and reading his cards and letters. I would smile not knowing that in exactly 7 years from then, this would be the scene of the NIU Valentine’s Massacre.
I did know one thing and that was that I didn’t feel that love for him – the kind that my gal-pals were expressing for their boyfriends. I loved that we could talk about anything and that he made me feel safe. I loved receiving and sending him letters. I loved encouraging him and being there for him while he served our country. I thought it was noble of him. After a few years of dating and meeting his family, I realized I was in love with the idea of love, but not with him. I did love him, but it wasn’t until years later that I experienced true love with someone else.
Again, I found myself shopping for cards but this time, I found it hard to express myself. The cards weren’t saying exactly what I felt for the man I had said such meaningful vows to. After spending hours at several stores, I picked out a simple card and wrote in my own sentiments. It was difficult because, although I knew without a shadow of a doubt I loved this man, I was also overwhelmed with joy of expecting our first child. It was truly a unique experience for both of us.
Every card and letter he ever gave me was full of grand gestures of love, however, nothing will ever top the Valentine’s Day 2005 When I gave birth to our middle daughter, Zoey Love. Since then, my Valentine’s Days were never the same again. The years before that Valentine’s Day were filled with confusion, happiness, heartache, death, tears, and cheers. With knowing that I met my daughter for the first time and was able to kiss and hold her, and look into her beautiful eyes makes Valentine’s Day a very special kind of special to me.
What are your favorite Valentine’s memories? What is the best gift you ever received on Valentine’s Day? Will you be celebrating Valentine’s Day this year? Please share in the comments below. I really would love to know.
Until next time, shine amongst the stars!
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