Thursday, February 11, 2010
My Last Valentine
It is Valentine’s Day and it had been almost a year since my husband passed away. I spent the day remembering what we had done on Valentine's Day the year before. My husband, Don, had cancer and was undergoing Chemo treatments. It had been four months since his diagnosis. Our neighbors had invited us to attend a Valentine’s Day Banquet at their church. I tentatively accepted the invitation, knowing that our attendance depended on how Don was feeling that day. He was a sociable person and missed getting out and seeing friends. His spirits rose when he had visitors and phone calls and he always had a kind word or a funny line for the nurses who treated him. The afternoon of the banquet he woke up from his nap and decided he wanted to go. I was worried that it would tire him out, but he insisted, saying that it would be okay. When we arrived at the church, there was a long line of couples waiting to get their picture made against the backdrop of a painted red barn, to go along with the western theme. It turned out to be the last photo we had made together.
Two days later was Valentine’s Day. I woke up to the smell of fresh coffee and a bouquet of flowers on the kitchen table, along with a card, inscribed, “Love, Don.” My husband had not driven for several months, but he had gotten up early that day to go to the store and buy me flowers. It was the last Valentine I received from him. Or so I thought.
Now, it was almost a year later and I am sorting through pictures, trying to organize photos for a scrapbook for my daughters. I find an old photo I had taken of my husband right after we started dating, 28 years before. It had been trimmed into a wallet-sized photo. It was the late 70's and he is wearing a wide tie, and grinning. We had been to church that morning. Funny, I didn’t remember the trimmed-down version of the photograph. I turned it over. Funny, I didn’t recall ever seeing anything written on the back of this particular photo. But there, in his handwriting, he had written a loving message to me and signed his name, "Love, Don."
He had sent me a Valentine message, one last time.