Good Grief for Valentine’s Day

Special thanks to guest author and Hello Grief Community member Kati Rice for sharing this story with us.

The other day I was at Walgreens waiting for my prescription, when I wandered over to the card section.  This is my favorite way to waste time at a drugstore, how about you?  When the pharmacist finally called my name — no surprise here! — I was still surrounded by birthday cheer, thank you notes and get well wishes.  But what did surprise me was that I had collected 3 PACKS of Valentine’s Day cards! Not 3 cards, not 12 cards, but I held in my hands 3 packs of 8 cards each– that’s 24 cards in all.

This is odd because I don’t have 24 mailing addresses for friends.  And I haven’t bought holiday cards in years.  And Valentine’s Day was still well over a month away (I’m not one to plan too far ahead).

Well, I tucked this smidge of odd behavior into the back pocket of my jeans and got in line straightway.  Surely one splurge doesn’t amount to much of anything at all.   But 2 days later, I found myself at another checkout counter, this time at an accessories store, with a costume  ring collection for my BFF, a girl who was having a terrific birthday bash in just a couple days.  Granted, I knew it would be a party to remember, but really — a COLLECTION?!  Surely one or two would have honored her just fine.  Four more days, and it’s an off-beat plaque for Dave, to celebrate Britches’ arrival on the scene:  “my spoiled rotten Shih Tsu lives here”.  After that, a red leather journal with a cute little heart on the front, for my best-friend-since-kindergarten, Laura Lou. PERFECT for Valentine’s Day, don’t you think?!  Then it’s onto amazon.com for a book I just KNOW brother Mark will LOVE. (It’s called “The Glamor of Grammar.” Don’t ask.)

As these gifts began to gather around and about my house, I couldn’t help but notice the trend.  (How could you miss a six-inch pile of cards for a far-off holiday, and four hip, oversized rings on a plate?)  Despite their obvious presence, for the life of me I didn’t yet know how it was that they had found their way into my home.  Sure, each item brought to mind someone who I dearly love, but why wasn’t I pausing, smiling warm familiar thoughts, and then leaving the items safely tucked inside the store – just like I usually do?!

I didn’t know why –until I sat down to write a message on the inside flap of Mark’s book.  Most of the words wrote themselves.  (The ones that didn’t were waiting at the tips of the fingers that held my pen.  As soon as I asked the words to come, they too jumped upon the page.)

To Mark –

Now that my dad is gone, I find myself wishing I had more of his life hanging around the house.  So this year, I’ve purposed to leave bits and pieces of me in the bookshelves and closets of people I love.  Maybe I hope to be better missed when it’s my turn to die.  Or maybe I just figure people should know a little more of how I feel, and think, about them.  And Tim’s agreed to pay the postage.

Lucky you!

Thanks for reading my dad blog this summer.  It meant more than you know.
xox – Kati

Well, there you have it.  Turns out, I am collecting goodies to give to people I love because I want a piece of me to linger in their lives.  Wow.  I guess it’s kind of a grief thing, if you want to look at it that way.

But I don’t think it’s a BAD GRIEF THING, I think, it’s a GOOD GRIEF THING.  I mean, I don’t care if my friends toss the cards, leave the books unread on their bookshelves, the journals for grocery lists, or stuff the rings into their already-too-full jewelry boxes.  What matters is that they know without a doubt, even when I’m gone, that they were truly important to me.   Every time they see those little things I gave them, they will remember that I loved them, and thought of them often.

*          *          *          *          *

It makes me so happy to be able to share this story with you…and I’d love to make this a two-way conversation!  Here’s a couple questions that maybe you can answer in the comment space below:

Is there anything out of the ordinary that you can plan for Valentine’s Day?
Is there something special you can do
or say, or give to the people you love who are alive?

5 Comments:

  1. Bill said on February 7, 2011 at 9:35 am ... #

    Most of the time I look upon Valentine’s Day and similar occasions as commercial rip offs to guilt us into buying something. It’s nice to be reminded that they can be used as occasions for celebrating relationships past and present. I will try to think of something special -a poem perhaps. –Thank you for your story!

  2. Kati said on February 8, 2011 at 5:42 pm ... #

    Bill, ahhh, you share my husband’s take on hallmark holidays! But you’re right, we can make them all about what we want them to be…we can take in holidays on our own terms. I’ve always hated the social pressure associated with valentine’s day (especially for guys) — so have come to see it as a perfect chance to share the love with friends. And what could be better than poetry for that! Great idea :-)

  3. sallyb said on February 10, 2011 at 4:58 am ... #

    Kati, thank you for your post.
    Yesterday was my 20th wedding anniversary, but the day before was the 2 year anniversary of my Mother’s passing; last Tuesday was the 1 year anniversary of my Brother’s suicide. I too am a token person, so I have every scrap of them I can find: a voice message from my Brother, his scrubs and stethoscope, the books he was reading, his hats–lots of things from my Mom: recipes, notes, every card, her clothes. I hold them all close and precious. I love the idea of taking that forward so that those I love will have tokens of what they mean to me. Grief and loss can take you in or out–to transform loss outward into positive action is a good step.
    My new mantra: if you can help me get through February by being my Valentine, I’ll do something nice for you all the rest of the year ;-) ) Carry on!

  4. Kati said on February 19, 2011 at 3:24 am ... #

    Sally, don’t you just LOVE mantras?! I love the give-n-take of yours. I’m just learning how to ask for things myself. Maybe February is the perfect month to start! We better hurry — nine days left and counting!!

    And, I am so grateful that you have those scraps. Sounds like you’re open-minded to receive so many things as tokens, both large and small. You’re so right, how grief has such a pull. And perhaps we get to choose in what direction. Hugs to you as you flow through the upcoming anniversaries this year. Keep us posted…and feel free to meet up with me inside the HG community!

  5. Polly Turpen said on February 15, 2012 at 7:13 am ... #

    My husband of 50+ years died last September. I managed to get through his next birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day…now Valentine’s Day. No one can really explain the hole in your heart after losing a loved one. I felt so alone and “unloved” on Valentine’s Day. Then…I received an e-card from my son. That helped a lot, and I shed a few tears. Later in the afternoon I was feeling “down” again and lonely. Then…here came two of my grandsons and granddaughter bearing gifts – a dozen roses and a bag of chocolate candy – spent with their own money. I was so touched. Surely God understood my grief and supplied the love of my caring family to help fill that hole.
    Thank you, Lord, for reassuring me one more time that I am loved, especially by You!

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