I love Valentine’s Day. I’ve loved it since I was a little girl and even well into my teens, because on that day Dad would make me feel like I was his one and only little girl. Dad wasn’t much for words and expressing tender emotions, but on Valentine’s Day, he always found the words I longed to hear. He’d hand me a box of Russell Stover chocolates from behind his back and would pucker up his cheek like a lopsided blowfish, waiting for his present in return… a kiss from his sweetheart. Dad continued to come through for me all throughout my adult years as well. Broken hearts and difficult life struggles were always made easier with a warm hug and a puckered cheek.
I remember the first Valentine’s Day after Dad died, some 11 years ago. He was gone barely a month by then. It was a typical winter morning, dark and dreary; ice cold wind smacked against the house. I stared at the submerged spoon in my coffee cup, mindlessly over-stirring the sugar to balance the bitter. And then the revelation: there would be no more candy-coated hearts from Dad, no peck on the cheek, no one to mend my broken heart. My Valentine is gone.
In my sorrow, I poured an extra cup for him and wrapped my fingers around it to keep me warm. I pictured us laughing and sometimes crying, talking about silly and also serious things, and eating way too many Stella Doro anisette cookies. Stay with me Dad. Please don’t go.
It’s been over a decade since that cold February morning. There are many days that I still stare at the bitter-sweet coffee in my cup and wish he was here. But somehow, I still love Valentine’s Day. When I see hearts and chocolates, I can feel his love, and am reminded I am forever his little girl.