When my daughter was little, she chose Disney princess Valentines from the neighborhood CVS for all her classmates. She signed each one with the backward "J" that didn't face the right direction until the middle of first grade. I waited patiently at the check-out as she looked over the selection, choosing carefully between Ariel or Jasmine. Belle or Cinderella.
Disney princesses for all!
Except for her dad and me. Weeks before Valentine's Day, she worked behind her closed bedroom door. Writing poems, cutting, pasting, drawing and painting. We knew to knock on her door so we wouldn't see the creations before the big day.
The gifts were unusual. Unique. Having no artistic talent myself, I marveled at the things she produced as she emerged triumphant from her bedroom/workshop. There were small pillows she had sewn with tiny buttons glued to the tops. Dolls made out of yarn. Dolls made out of cornhusks. Paper mache maracas. One year, tiny oil paintings appeared from behind the closed door, as if by magic.
The words on the cards were the best part. Sometimes they rhymed. Sometimes they didn't. Words that filled my heart, no matter which direction the letters faced.
I never cared about Valentine's day until she came along. Roses, candy and Hallmark never interested me.
Being loved so fiercely. That interested me.
The power, the force, the fierceness behind this tiny person's love for me filled up every hole I had in my heart.
I know I will not get a handmade card this year. Those are a thing of the past. The cards and gifts I treasure are kept in a box under my bed.
She is not a child anymore. She may still remember, between midterm exams, to call home.
Chatting about this and that, she will be unaware that once again her words are like spackle over the tiny cracks in my heart.