It starts right after Christmas. The New Year hasn't even dawned before anticipation of February's big day splashes red everywhere you turn. For six weeks we are bombarded with hearts, balloons, flowers, candy and greeting cards, and you can't get away, not even in the grocery stores. I don't mean to sound bitter; I'm not. It's just a painful time for many single people. But then again, it's probably hard for lots of married folks too, who live with their own variety of heartache.
I am happy for those who have a sweetheart in their lives. Buck always went out of his way to make the day special for us and it was a joy-filled time to celebrate our love. But now, Valentine's season, like most holidays, is just another in your face reminder of what's missing. There are times throughout the year that I'm more sensitive. As Valentine's Day approaches, Buck's absence is more glaring than ever. It just makes me miss him more than I already do on any other given day. It's just a fact.
I was pleasantly surprised by how pleasurable my day was yesterday, considering the roller-coaster of emotions that came with this past week. Nearly four years of procrastination hasn't made the task I faced any easier. Closure is painful no matter what! But it also brings a measure of blessings with it. I'm still trying to process that part.
Last week, one of the gals in my Bible study made an announcement that she and her husband would be collecting clothing, furniture and household products for the many people who were displaced due to a fire caused by arson at The Roadway Inn in York City last week. The Inn was home for many of them, not just overnight accommodations. My friend mentioned that one gentleman only had the clothes on his back. He would be wearing his one pair of jeans to work everyday. She said he only requested a couple pairs of jeans and a sweater, when asked what he needed. When she mentioned his waist and inseam measurement, I knew I had to take action. His jeans size was the same as Buck's. It was gratifying to know that Buck's wardrobe would be filling such an urgent need, but the necessity didn't damper the effect on my heart. I was a mess all week as I laundered, folded and packaged Buck's clothes in preparation for sharing them.
The hardest part was finding a long sleeved shirt I had gotten for him; it was on a hanger and the sleeves were still rolled up just a bit the way he often wore them. That discovery hit me really hard, but not like the impact of finding his Carhart vest and winter jacket with a note in the pocket in his handwriting. I hugged them like a teddy bear (like he was) and wept bitterly from the basement to the laundry room. The vest and jacket were the most difficult to let go. I could see him in my mind: hands in pockets, boyish grim and sparkling eyes. I am thankful for the days when those memories make me smile, but that was not the case this week. There are still more clothes to deal with, but those will have to wait. I could only take so much.
I filled the back seat of my car and gave away most of Buck's wardrobe on Wednesday. I broke down again at my Bible study and my friends in my group surrounded me with love, compassion and prayer. I came away feeling drained but better. Now that I have started dealing with this painful task, I will finish up next week, as I have finally decided what to do with the rest. I like to think the remainder will be easier. But I have been wrong before about thinking the worst is over. I am optimistic this time.
So my Valentine's Day turned out to be a good day, after a hard week. I did spend some time hugging my teddy bear in the morning. It just felt good to squeeze that stout bear named Critter. I spent time soaking in the brightness of my "Happy Light" while I enjoyed my devotional time. I made myself a nice breakfast like I would have prepared for Buck, and gave myself a pedicure and practiced using some new makeup. I enjoyed the snowy view from my dining room and I took a long walk in the cold sunshine. I made a special dinner (and ate it by candlelight) and a cheesecake pie for dessert.
I sensed the Lord's presence throughout the day. It was as if He was giving me permission to do whatever would make me smile. So I enjoyed a self pampering day without guilt. As I asked God to bless my meal, I thought about and prayed for some precious people in my life, who were facing their first Valentine's Day without their loved ones and the rest who struggle on this day. I thanked Him for the wonderful years I was blessed to have Buck in my life and for the luxury of having such a beautiful, wonderful day full of gifts.
Now I'm looking forward to spring, but trying to appreciate the season I am in. I also appreciate that you took your time to stop by and check on me. Thank you for caring. I hope you had a pleasant Valentine's Day too.