Valentine’s Day at the Cemetery

Red roses at my husband's grave, Arlington National Cemetery, 14 February, 2014.

Red roses at my husband’s grave, Arlington National Cemetery, 14 February, 2014.

It’s Valentine’s Day.  Every Valentine’s Day my husband Don would give me a card, and usually chocolates, and often flowers. Sometimes he’d give me a gift besides the chocolate and flowers, but every year the card, the chocolates (nearly always the chocolates) and often the flowers. And he always gave chocolates to the girls. Until they got married. Once they got married he figured that was the job of our sons-in-law. But until then, chocolates. Don thought chocolate was on the base of the food pyramid.

I always gave Don a card – a funny card (that’s just my style), and chocolate. I think I mentioned Don’s love of chocolate?

And now here I am, on Valentine’s Day, in this nowhere land. I have single friends who’ve been bemoaning the loneliness of being single on Valentine’s Day. I’ve been single on Valentine’s Day before. I once broke up with someone right before Valentine’s Day. But this isn’t like being dateless on Valentine’s Day. I mean, I’m not dating right now. I’m really not ready. I just miss my honey.

Yesterday a federal judge struck down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage, and that seems so appropriate for Valentine’s Day, and I want to celebrate that, but I’d rather celebrate it with my husband. I’d rather celebrate it by saying, “welcome to this imperfect state of being with another person! I hope you can have what we have!”  So I’ll still say “Congratulations!”, but now I have to say, “I hope you can have what we had.” Which is a little different. Now I’m looking in the rear-view mirror.

So today I had to send the red roses. I sent them to the cemetery. As it happens, we had a big snowstorm, and Arlington National Cemetery (well, northern Virginia), is blanketed in snow. It feels appropriate. It’s peaceful. It’s quiet. But it meant I couldn’t find a small stone on the ground when I went there today.

This is a Jewish custom – to leave a stone on the grave when a person visits. Don and Sean are buried together in the same grave (that’s how they do that at Arlington National Cemetery), and whenever we would visit, we would put a small stone on the gravestone. This is the first time I’ve been since Don was buried and the gravestone has been erected. So there is no stone to mark my visit. Only the red roses.

The florist had delivered them for me, and they stand out clearly against the snow. The snow itself a gentle cover holding all the graves in a soft embrace.  That will have to do.

Don continues to visit me in my dreams. He is happy and helpful. How can I begrudge him that? So I just miss him. He’s together with Sean, who has visited me recently as well.  The love of father and son is also not to be discounted. Those of us left here miss them, but we are not alone. I remind myself of that.

On the way to the cemetery today I gave some chocolate chip cookies to the guards on duty outside (from our cookie ministry – the Team Campbell Cookie Ministry – in memory of Don). It made them smile. That’s like having a bit of Don with me. And they were cookies that Twenty-Year-Old and I made together, which is also like having a piece of Don with me.

So yes, I’m a bit lonely. Yes, I miss my husband. But I remembered him today, and I know he’s thinking of me. And so love goes on. Happy Valentine’s Day.

That’s all I’ve got. That’s my mite.

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5 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day at the Cemetery

  1. Pingback: A Little Snow…A Little Chocolate…and Some Coffee | R.B.Bailey Jr

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