I’ve always loved Valentine’s day, even before I knew you I couldn’t help but be swept up by the romance. And then I met you and it just got better.
Each year I seem to start thinking about it earlier and earlier, this year, the buzz of Christmas had barely left when thoughts and plans started creeping into my mind. I’d see things and think how much you would love this, or enjoy doing that. And so many things to choose from, it’s becoming almost like another Christmas with the vast range of gifts.
I must admit, I do prefer a more traditional celebration - we both do don’t we. They bring back such wonderful memories from the years we’ve had together. We tend to have quiet celebrations these days, I’ll cook us a nice meal and we’ll have your favourite wine. We’ll exchange cards and curl up together, listening to music and reminiscing. We’ve always preferred staying home where it’s just the two of us. Do you remember that year we did go out? Goodness, what a disaster. I’d not long come out of hospital and you wanted to treat me to something special, you didn’t want me standing in the kitchen preparing a meal for us as you thought it would be too much for me. Well, what a palava that night was. You’d made the reservation and off we went, only to arrive and be told that there was no booking. It turned out there was another booking for a couple with the same name as us. The staff were embarrassed weren’t they, then insisted we wait whilst they squashed another table in. There was barely enough room as it was - restaurants do like to make the most of such an occasion don’t they. The waiters could only just get through tables with the food, you had your head knocked by a bottle of wine by one of them. Then a potato rolled off a plate and into my lap. I can still see your face now, laughing as you said, ‘get your brolly out Sue, there might be a downpour of soup in a minute.’ Those poor chaps, they were rushed off their feet. We saw the funny side, but I don’t think any of our fellow diners did - especially all the poor fellows who were planning to propose - hardly the romantic setting they would have been hoping for.
I think that was the only year we dined out - apart from the time you planned a picnic - It was so sweet of you. Valentine’s Day had fallen on a Sunday that year, and it had been unusually mild. You planned it all so well, you made some wonderful food and packed it all so beautifully in the basket we got as a wedding present. And you even pushed the boat out and bought some champagne. And then just as we settled down in the park the heavens opened and an almighty halestorm appeared out of nowhere. Gosh, they were like golf balls, we had to abandon everything and take shelter under a tree. All the food was ruined and even the wine got smashed. But like most situations, you just saw the funny side and the two of us ended up in hysterics. When it was finally safe to leave we packed up and got fish and chips on the way home instead.
It’s the sound of your laughter that I miss the most. I can still hear it, I remember just how it sounds and that great big smile of yours that was always there on your face, you could brighten anyone’s day. You’d walk into a room and say, ‘you don’t have a smile, here, have one of mine,’ followed by your biggest grin and a cheeky wink. Your happiness was so contagious even the sourest of faces would soon give in to a smile.
I’d give anything to hear that laugh again for real, but I have to wait, and each year it gets harder. There were so few Valentine Days that we spent together, just eight of them before you were taken from me. We were so young and the memories are still so precious. People told me it would get easier, not sure I agree with that, I think missing you has just become more familiar.
Tonight, I shall prepare a meal and open a bottle of your favourite Chianti. I’ll raise my glass and sit alone and think of you. I’ll read the cards we exchanged all those years ago, I’ve kept them all. Again, I shall absorb your loving words, your sweeping handwriting, promising me that you’ll love me forever. I must have read them a million times but I still remember how happy I felt the first time.
Despite so many wonderful memories the tears will roll down my cheeks as they have on this day for the last fifty years. But then your voice will come to me and say, ‘you don’t have a smile, here, have one of mine.’
Through my tears I will smile, comforted by the knowledge that each passing year brings us closer to being reunited. You are my one true Valentine, and there could never have been another.