Valentine’s Day.

Let me first start off by saying my entire life this holiday has met close to nothing for me.

It’s a day to embrace love, but there is and was so much love in my house this holiday did not stick out to us. Also I dislike “hallmarky” holidays. I’m just not a mushy person and men get left out a lot on this holiday and I don’t like it. Jess always laughed at this.

On the back of this note are the actual words from the card. He tore it out and flipped it over and wrote the above. The original text just babbles on about greatest love and blah blah. Although Jesse did actually read the cards and would pick one based on how close they were to how he really felt- he also did this for me occasionally because he knew I wasn’t sappy.

Jesse would still grab things for the kids and I- and I didn’t complain- who doesn’t want chocolate covered strawberries? But the fact was that he would bring me a dessert like that at random through out the year anyhow. He would buy me something special here and there anyhow. Special breakfast and special coffee? I got those on the weekends, the only reason it wasn’t served to me in bed was because I told him that was ridiculous.

Our dynamic was very interesting and I miss it a lot. The way I showed love to him and to our children was in a practical way: making them healthy lunches, ensuring they went to the doctors, working on a career so we wouldn’t struggle, buying a home so we would have equity and not be tossing money away, making sure everything was clean, organized and in it’s place so there was less stress. Jesse showed love by making some extra fancy dinner or breakfast- one that would destroy how clean the kitchen was but taste so amazing. An example of this is his scrambled eggs. I guarantee you never had them like this and you won’t want it the other way once you have them like this, but here’s how you cook them:

That’s what the eggs actually look like. They are bomb. Sometimes he would use a glass bowl over boiling water to make sure the eggs were creamy.

Jesse showed love by making sure we had fun doing things. By fun I mean the kids had fun and I had a heart attack. He did all of the things that I did not think were a good idea because someone could get hurt.

Jesse loved by listening to what I had to say, not on a surface level, really trying to grasp the depth of pain I felt and look for a solution or understand my interest in it’s entirety. He loved by taking care of our home with such care and diligence. He never half-assed anything. Anything he was going to build or repair he spent hours making sure he did it the best way and the right way.

Anyways, now this holiday hurts. I spent so long not caring about it. Now, I care because it just reminds me of how much he loved all the time and that we wont be getting any of that ever again. He also won’t be getting it. It’s like a barricade has been set between he and the kids and I.

As much as I dislike cliche holidays, Jesse was the opposite to an extent and always had to get cards. He insisted each of us needed a separate card for each holiday. That means 4 valentines day cards, 4 Christmas cards, etc. I told him it wasn’t necessary we knew he loved us. Obviously now I am wishing I kept my mouth shut but at the same time he didn’t listen to me either most of the time so we have quite a few. I’m glad we have them now.

I am glad for writing. If we were silent to each other I wouldn’t be able to have *some* solace here and there. Since we wrote a lot and in various ways- I can almost always find something to answer an insecurity of mine. Valentine’s Day is a good example of this, because I can kind of replicate what he would have said to me so I don’t feel as weird.

Half of the time I find myself wishing he would have just signed the card “Love, Jesse.”-Like most men do. Instead he would jot down a small essay about how I was the best thing in the world. I find myself hating the effort he put in, when I once felt special by it. At some point during the day I am looking for ways to get mad at him. Anger feels better than sadness. But even if I think about our worst fight, it does nothing. I don’t have real anger, just sadness.

On the other hand, I want my old life back. Constantly. I’m stuck between all of these shades of gray instead of it just being black or white. I hate it. I hate that I cannot make fun of this stupid ass holiday anymore. I hate that everything is so different and there is no end in sight. There could only be an end if I stop loving him. Since I know that wont happen- I’m stuck. The feeling of being stuck is so horrible. No matter what has happened in my life at some point I would know “it can’t be like this forever.” But for this it is and I know it is. For someone to say it will be better one day tells me one of three things:

  1. You are not a widow. Period.
  2. You are a widow, but you are 87.
  3. You are a widow, but your relationship lacked passion and authentic love.

“Better,” is subjective. Anything that is “better,” perhaps years from now is really a form of coping. An attempt to cope. That scares the hell out of me, knowing that if I am “better” one day it won’t be very authentic in my core. How can we be better missing one of us? It’s literally impossible. I’m not sure why this is so hard for people to understand. Actually, I do know why. Sadness makes people uncomfortable. I hope I am not always like this. I hope it more than anyone hopes it for me. But some things cannot be fixed. I won’t lie to myself.

If I lost both of my legs, I would hope everyday to grow them back. It doesn’t matter how much I hope- at the end I still don’t have legs and I never will. Maybe I’d put on a brave face. I could get a wheel chair. People would help to push me from place to place but then use their own legs to walk away from me. Eventually maybe I would get a prosthetic, but nonetheless, I am still permanently disabled. Essentially that’s how I feel now. I can never walk again. My “brave” face is doing things for my kids. My wheel chair is distractions I make up for the kids and I to get us through another shit day. People help us, but then they go to their home where life is normal. Any other relationship I may ever have in the future is a prosthetic, its not my real legs. I suppose these things are better than nothing, but they do not replace being able to walk on your own.

I guess the take-away here is go big or go home. If you love really hard, it will suck, really hard one day. Yes, you will get to experience something that little 90’s Disney girl dreams are made of- but if its ever taken away you will hurt so bad you won’t want it.

Speaking of little 90’s Disney girl. My favorite movie was Aladdin. One day I found this old collector card of mine and I pinned it in Jesse’s closet. Aladdin is feeding Jasmine some bullshit here and she’s about to call him out on it. He kept it there for years. If Jess started with some bullshit about something to me I would call him out on it and vice-versa. Their relationship reminded me of ours sometimes. Aladdin loves her like no other but he’s also an idiot sometimes.
Jesse’s favorite Disney movie growing up was Hercules. He loved Hades. Later in my life I really loved the mythological story of Hades and Persephone, so it became a favorite of mine too.

The alternative is not knowing a real love. You wont have the intense pain, but you may not have the protection either. Even though Jesse isn’t here I can confidently say that I know I am beautiful. I am smart. I am a pure person (or rather a paladin as he would say). I am all these things because he convinced me of it eventually, even if it took a long time. He said it so much my self doubt slowly but surely chipped away. This part cannot be taken from me and this is a small example. He did leave me with some form of protection I do not think I would have had. However I cannot clearly say which is better. I am not sure the pain is worth certainties.

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