Valentine’s Day

By Emma Pearson

April 17, 2024

Photo credit Sarah Treanor

14th February 2019

On this day 2 years ago, Mike was very ill already. He came downstairs in the morning having showered. I could tell that he’d lost a lot of his hair, “overnight” it seemed. I could see his scalp through his remaining hair. It just suddenly looked very thin. The kids had already left for school.

I gave him his Valentine’s card and he looked at me with tears in his eyes and palpable despair and said, “Oh no! I forgot. I am so so sorry.” Neither of us ever forgot Valentine’s day. We always exchanged cards with sweet words in them. Usually just that – no gifts or outings, just a special card of which I have many.

Then he burst into tears – one of just a handful of times in the 4.5 months between diagnosis and death. He was wracked with sobs. I just held him as best I could. He said, “My hair’s fallen out. Handfuls came out in the shower. I’m terrified. I stayed upstairs till I heard the kids had left. I didn’t want to scare them”.

Valentine’s day 2017 remains one of the saddest, most painful, most anguished days of my life. And of Mike’s too, I am sure.

Valentine’s day 1953 was also the day of birth of my friend Xavier who died just 14 months ago.

And Valentine’s day 2018 was the day my widow friend Andrea put her husband Octavio to final rest. Sometimes the timing is doubly shit.

Valentine’s day 2019 has a lot of my US-based friends happily excited – for some reason it seems to be a much bigger thing in the US.

And Valentine’s day 2019 has a lot of my US-based widow/er tribe in convulsions of pain and loss and grief.

It’s not necessarily a happy day. Definitely not an easy day.

I am glad Valentine’s day is not rubbed in my face here in small town France. It’s a glorious day, the mountains are stunning, it smells of early spring, my youngest is at home with me, the dog is lying at my feet, and I had a good long swim way before dawn. And I just learned that my 79 year old mum has been out on her first run since Christmas, during which time she slipped and fell hard on her coccyx. Her being out on a run is a very good thing.

It’s not an easy day – no day is. But it’s got some bright sparks in it.

About Emma Pearson

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