It used to be a ground for divorce in the state where I’m living, but these days we simply speak of irreconcilable differences. The latter reason for calling it quits tastes so bland. So stripped of emotional energy, of anger, of depression, of loneliness. And now Valentine’s Day has sneaked up upon us once again. With no flowers, candy, jewelry, hugs, cards–or a simply whispered “I love you.” How does a cancer-afflicted chick handle Valentine’s Day alone, alienated from once-vibrant passion?
Hearts CAN be filled again.
The other day I read some Valentine’s Day tips for newly single women in a newsletter from Christine Clifford, a wonderful friend and head of the Cancer Club and Divorcing Divas . Like me, she’s been through the ringer of breast cancer and its not-so-rare relational side effects. Her gems seem perfect for this day when cupid adorns romantically inclined couples with red lace and smitten hearts. When all I’m seeing is red.
Spend the day sending Valentines to friends and loved ones, those who have supported you through all your trials. They’ll know you care.
Pay it forward. Others’ hearts will be warmed when you bring canned goods or bouquets to a battered women’s or homeless shelter.
Visit an assisted living or skilled nursing facility bearing candy and cards. Spend an afternoon with the residents. Let them tell their stories of bygone holidays. After all, look what happened in one of my all-time favorite movies Fried Green Tomatoes. An incredibly warm friendship may develop from these close encounters.
Be your own Valentine! Send yourself a colorful spray with a card tucked inside reading, “Be Your Own Valentine! Love you!” Or buy a big box of your favorite chocolates (dark or not) and pick one or two each day. As Forrest Gump remarked so wisely, “You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Wear red, don’t just see it. Get for yourself–or pull from a hanger–a red outfit, apply red lipstick, don jewelry, and paint the town red! Even if you only go to the grocery store. Even if you only go to the drug store for your favorite over-the-counter meds and supplements.
Reserve a room at an upscale hotel for one night. Order room service, indulge in the full spa treatment, find an engaging program or movie on TV and end the evening with a soothing bubble bath complete with candles or aromatherapy and a good read from home.
Plan a “Life is Short, Eat Dessert First” party. Invite your best single girlfriends with a request that they bring their favorite desserts. Provide decaff coffee and Martinelli’s or champagne. Dust off and use your best china. Add an optional special touch by decorating your abode with flowers, fresh or silk.
Perform a random act of kindness: Call, e-mail or mail a card to someone to whom you haven’t spoken in a while. Reminisce about old times and share deep feelings and yearnings. Family, friends, co-workers, school buddies – any one is fair game!
Pretty up your residence with Valentine’s hearts, angels, helium balloons and red streamers. Fill dishes with heart-shaped candies. Light red candles. Dim the lights. Set the mood and relax.
Don’t forget to laugh! This has been Christine Clifford’s motto in all her endeavors, especially the Cancer Club. Rent a funny movie like My Funny Valentine, read a funny book, share a funny story, find humor in every situation. After all, by this time next year, you may have found your “true” love: yourself.
(This is my own.) Turn on music that is to your liking. You needn’t repeat in your mind the lyrics from all the romantic songs broadcast in every store this time of year. Ignore Frank Sinatra and Tom Jones. Pick your favorite Pandora station or a playlist suited to your mindset.
(This is also my own.) See a movie at the cinema, by yourself or with a friend. Indulge in popcorn or Junior Mints and an ICEE for that special occasion. Lean back and get caught up in the flick. Kick off your shoes. It’s dark, anyway.
Some of these suggestions cost more than others. You needn’t do all twelve. You needn’t do any. You can mix and match. Just do what clicks to suit your budget, personality and mood. We who are physically wounded by cancer and emotionally scarred by those we love most need to feel appreciated, attractive and worthy of affection. These tips may be just the ticket to fulfill those universal needs.
Decades ago a secret sister (or admirer?) from a former church gave me the plush mauve plaque pictured below bearing–in a cutout heart–the simple words, “You are loved.” I never did find out who sent that message to me. But I have kept it propped up on my dresser since it magically appeared on a church table with my name on it. It means more to me now than it did when I first laid eyes on it. Wherever you are, dear anonymous one, I thank you dearly for this daily, forever Valentine reminder that I am truly loved by someone.
Where have all the flowers gone? Have young girls picked them every one, as the song goes? Are they just covering graveyards, as the song cycles on? No. They are still alive and intact, all over the planet. In the winter months they wait in the earth, ready to sprout when it’s time. Ready to bloom at the appointed season. Ready to showcase petals unplucked, all saying, “You are loved.”
And so we are.
Have you faced times alone on Valentine’s Day? Wha t did you do to divert your attention from any loneliness?