Valentine's Day. Believe it or not, I was never one to go big for this holiday. Even during the dating years when I was ooey gooey in love with Joel. It always seemed like a lot of pressure for just one day. Once married we continued to keep this holiday low key. Typically Joel would get me a sweet card and chocolates. That was about it. Most years we would go to dinner on a different day to avoid the holiday crowds. Pretty romantic, huh? I understand putting extra emphasis on love, one day of the year, is certainly not a bad thing. I honestly just felt loved from my husband every day of the year. I didn't want to put extra pressure on him to meet an expectation solely for holiday sake.
That was then.
Now, I spend a day so focused on love, without my love. Though it wasn't a holiday of high importance to us, it has become a holiday that's difficult for me. A stroll through social media shows all the sweet messages back and forth to couples. The photos of flowers, date nights and sweet accolades only serve to remind me that I will never have any of those moments with my husband again. I feel that reminder every day, but it is heightened on this particular one.
Holidays are a minefield for a widow to navigate. Every.single.one. They are never the same as they were. No matter how hard I try to make a day perfect, it never really can be, because it will always be a day Joel's not with us. It only gets harder with time, not easier.
Life has to keep moving forward. You can't stop and be defeated. This family chooses to rise. So we try our best to make really hard days, good days. They're not perfect days, but they can be good ones.
This Valentines Day our sweet friend and sitter Kaylee along with my Mom, and my son Milo, concocted a plan to surprise me for Valentine's. Milo dressed up in a shirt and bow tie, got me flowers, and took me out on a date. He was so proud of this achievement and kept telling me it was all his idea, though I'm sure he had major guidance. We had such a fun time going to a nice restaurant together, strolling through Barnes and Noble and getting Starbucks on the way home. He's grown into such an amazing little man and I genuinely love going on "dates" with him. Truth be told, hanging out with him feels a whole lot like hanging out with his Daddy. He is God's most incredible blessing in that way.
In the end we made it through the day. And on a day I could have wept, I managed to smile. When I could have felt forgotten, I felt loved. When I could have felt alone, I felt surrounded. No, it wasn't a perfect day, not even an easy day, but it was a good day. Simply, a very good day.