Monday, February 16, 2009
Heart In Hand
This year, I had big plans for Valentine's Day.
I have this distinct memory of my mother making great, big, heart-shaped sugar cookies for my second-grade classmates, personalizing each one with their names in neat, looping, pink buttercream cursive, and I remember thinking my Mom is amazing, can you believe my Mom? and I really wanted to recreate those cookies for Ellie to take to school on Valentine's Day.
But, as it turned out, something horrible happened last week. The last ten days have been sad. I don't need to tell you how sad, because I know you can imagine how sad. It is the Saddest Thing, the thing that clutches at the heart of every parent. Needless to say, the personalized cookies and about a million other things did not happen.
And so went the week. Task, task, plan, plan, cry, cry, cry. So much sadness. We talked about how to tell Ellie and decided to wait, just a few more days, to do the best job possible. Or maybe because we envy her tender, oblivious self. I don't know.
And on Saturday, as the pace slowed and we had nowhere to be, nothing to plan, I really wanted to make some valentines, do something normal and silly and hopeful. I pulled a chair up to the dining room table, spread out papers and markers, cookies and sprinkles, and Ellie and I did Valentine's Day.
And as we traced hands and glued doilies and spread pink frosting, I felt palpable joy, the kind of joy whose intensity is directly related to the freshness of a deep sorrow. And I felt so thankful to be sitting there, sharing the day with someone so beautifully, wondrously oblivious to all the sad. Someone consumed with candy and frivolity and construction-paper expressions of love.
Someone like this:
This is terribly disjointed, I know, but this is what I want to say: after the events of the past week and watching our family respond to such loss, I am struck by the resiliency of the human spirit, by our dopey, naked ability to go on loving things, no matter how fragile or precarious or foolish. We just love, even when the possibility of unfathomable, shattering heartbreak lurks around every corner. We love when it makes not one ounce of sense, and even when our hearts are broken, we would do it again, just go on loving in the most irrational way possible.
It makes us, I think, one part monkey, one part divinity. And I love that so.
Happy (belated) Valentine's Day.