“All sorrow can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them.” Isak Dinesen
He called me about 5 p.m. on Friday just as I was leaving my office to join some co-workers at the company’s end-of-week cocktail gathering. “I left something for you at the house.” I laughed. “What, a Valentine?” “Yes,” he said. “I left a Valentine for you.”
When I got home, there is it was, wrapped in white. A huge, beautiful heart with chocolates inside. Just like the fantasy that Valentine’s day is supposed to be. I’d been clouded in sadness for a long time, which doesn’t at all mean that I wasn’t content or happy in my life. You see, no matter how necessary, divorce carries with it a residue of sorrow. Seeing that Hallmark-esque heart, I realized how hard I’d been holding on to it.
The frightening dreams had returned and I’d asked my therapist why they were back. “Because you are ready now,” she told me. I protested. “But why the dream about him killing me? Why is that one back? It’s horrible.”
“He did kill you,” she said. The stillness hung in the air. It seemed like an eternity before she spoke again. “The person you were is gone. You are having the dream because you are now in a place where you can process it and let it go. Make no mistake, though, emotionally and psychologically, he killed you.” I’d been playing that conversation back in my mind for a week, thinking about its truth and the power of acknowledgement. The dream had miraculously stopped. Then, of course, there was the sadness. So many things happened in such a short span of time after the divorce, including his criminal indictment. Add to that, he paid child support for only four months, then began sprouting fanciful arguments about how he had overpaid and that I owed him money. There were so many other pieces too. Thinking about it all made me profoundly sad. Watching it is a raw and ugly spectacle.
But here in front of me stood a delightful, red roses-decorated box of chocolates.
In the last year, I needed so much help managing a house, two children and of course, myself. Derek The Handyman had patched walls, tuck-pointed the bricks, shoveled the snow, added handles to doors, unclogged toilets, cleaned out garbage, swept floors and did so many other things, the majority of then unasked. When I mentioned to him one day that I wished I had a place to put my radio in the kitchen, he built a shelf for it. I had been so grateful to Derek that I never thought he might be grateful to me. His Valentine’s heart assured me he was.
A little bit of love and inspiration come in unexpected packages. This heart motivated me to make some love to add to this Valentine’s Day and to the next of days. It feels good to think of adding love and letting go of sadness.
There is a manuscript of poems on my desk today. A friend sent them asking for thoughts and comments. In turn, he said he would take a look at my manuscript. It has been a long time since I worked on my book. It’s time to open it up again. Wish me luck, send me love. Happy Valentine’s Day.