Last year, I discovered that you were, and still are, my favorite Valentine.
But I never got a chance to tell you that, so here goes:
Remember the little white teddy bear in the little red “I love you” mug you bought me just before Valentine’s last year? Well, it’s one of my most precious treasures. It actually made my heart melt when you first gave it to me.
I know you were in Shoppers, scoping out their Valentine’s candy and gifts early. And the thought of you picking up this adorable present with me in mind, … well, it just brought such a smile to my heart. I never told you because I thought you would just think I was just being overly sensitive. But now, I so wish I had said something, anything, everything.
I also had a little gift for you- a necklace and earrings- but never got a chance to have you wear them out
And that bear actually became what I was hoping would be a little protector for you in the hospital. I put your little red and green tasbih around the bear, and brought a picture of Hazar Imam that you had at your place, and kept them in the ICU room you were in in the hospital. For some reason, I thought all of those little heartfelt things would save your heart and help you feel us, remember that you are loved. And you would just get better.
Katarina even helped me tuck the little bear under your arm while you were sedated. I wasn’t allowed to be there all the time in the room, so I was hoping that if you woke up and saw the bear, you know we were nearby and not alone. But you never woke up. I couldn’t believe it.
I think at first, I was angry that those things didn’t help you. It was hard for me to have them near me afterwards because I thought I didn’t do enough, that I needed to bring you something else that would have protected you better. But I couldn’t get rid of those things either. The mug and especially he bear,… they just became sacred. The bear was the last thing that was closest to you. And now, I keep it close to our picture- that picture of you and me from long ago- on my windowsill. And now it helps me to feel you are nearby.
But the bear is also in the arms of a different, bigger, green bear one of my students gave me years ago. The green bear’s name is Ariel. It came with that name. And Ariel was a fairy type of character in one of my favorite Shakespeare plays- The Tempest. My student wanted to give me something to say thanks for teaching her about Shakespeare and other writers, and so when she found this bear and saw his name, she thought it was perfect!
The bear has stayed with me as a memory of the magic that Ariel seemed to have in the play.
And I want that magic, that protection, around you. So I guess I use Ariel hugging the white bear you gave me as a symbol of something still protecting you and your spirit.
I gave you a Valentine’s Day card in the hospital last year as well, that said something about making sure you take care of yourself now that you have spent so much time taking care of everyone else. I feel very embarrassed and sad that those were the words I chose, to share with you, when you were in a state of not only not being able to take care of us, but also helpless in taking care of yourself.
I am so sorry, Mom. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I had no idea. And I’m sorry I was late to join you at the hospital on Valentine’s Day. Every place was so busy for food, for driving. I was trying to also get some new furniture and clothes for you to surprise you with. But I should have just been with you. And I never got a chance to tell you why I was late. You looked so sad and it hurts me to remember your comment about how I took so long. I thought I would have time later to explain.
If only I could turn back time and change so much about those days, of those months, of so many things that I would have done differently with you. I would do it.
I haven’t been able to use or drink out of the “I love you” mug since you’ve been gone, though it sits in my cupboard in its own little spot and I stare at it sometimes. And I haven’t been able to wear the earrings and necklace I gave you. I just wanted to see them on you.
I might have to try to put them one on day soon, to see if they make me feel any closer to you. Or to somehow show you what they look like on your daughter.
Valentine’s Day now makes me very heavy hearted. But what is at the front of my mind and heart is my absolute favorite Valentine- my mother Laila. Why I didn’t figure it out sooner, I will never know. But I know now, and though I spent Valentine’s Day alone, I was so full of love for the best person that ever was a part of my world. And now you’re also my Divine Valentine.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom.
May lots of candy hearts, kisses, warmth, peace and love wash over you up there in Heaven, always. But especially today.