My aching valentine heart.


I’m sitting here on my couch, sipping the day’s first coffee.  Outside of my bay window, a few lazy snow flakes drift down like tiny angel feathers. Everything is covered in a soft, new snowfall. The trees look like they have been frosted for a party.

Its the first morning of my February vacation. Its very quiet.

I woke up on Valentine’s morning with an ache in my heart, and I wasn’t sure why.  As I moved around the kitchen getting ready for work, though, I knew why I was sad.

I missed the old Valentine breakfasts, when the kids were small. I missed the heart shaped pancakes and the heart shaped chocolate cake that would have been waiting to be frosted for dinner.  I missed the little cards with glued on sparkly decorations and those awful candy “message hearts”.  My empty nest was just too empty.

Sometimes in spite of my best efforts, the finality of the kids’ departures just hits me like an arrow in the heart. For some reason, this Valentine’s day I was acutely aware that I’ll never hold one of my babies again. Time has rushed on by, and those days are gone forever.

I got to school, and one of my little students came into the room.  He is a sweet, gentle, beautiful boy with sadness of his own this year, and he came in with a smile and a gift of potted daffodils.  A little pink and white heart, covered in lace and sparkles and extra glue, was stuck on the side. He had signed his name in purple marker.  I thanked him, gave him a big hug, and when he left I put my head on my desk and cried for a bit.

The day went on, and I was surrounded by kids, and laughing and snowpants and tissues.  I taught some math, checked for a fever, mediated a snowman conflict, read out loud and listened to some history presentations.  I cleaned up, corrected, sent emails, and washed out paintbrushes. I did what teachers do.

And now it is vacation, and Paul and I are straightening up and drinking our coffee and getting ready to go out for groceries.  It is vacation week.

I saw a saying the other day, although I don’t remember where.  I can’t even remember the words exactly, but the sentiment is something like this:

“Don’t be sad that it is over. Be happy that it happened in the first place.”

I’m trying.



Its Valentine’s Day.

I’ve been married to my first serious boyfriend since 1978.  We’ll have dinner together tonight and drink some champagne.  There’ll probably be flowers and/or chocolate. It will be sweet.

But I miss the real Valentine’s Day.  So much.

I miss the little red cards left on breakfast plates in the morning.

I miss the stacks of folded cardboard valentines written carefully the night before and signed with care, ready to go in the backpacks.

I miss the crinkled white paper bags coming home full of cards and notes. I miss seeing the new pencil from the teacher. I miss sharing a few of those impossible to chew candy hearts with the cryptic messages.

I miss the heart shaped pizza that I’d serve for supper, followed by a heart shaped chocolate cake.

I miss the homemade cards. I miss the hugs, the “I love you, Mommy’s”, the special smiles.

Oh, I miss their voices.

I miss it all.