Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hearting over Hating in the Valentine Arena

As far as expectations go, this year's Valentine's Day exceeded them, for a few reasons in particular:

1. During our morning break, I found one of our high school alumni, a former student of mine, in the quad with a huge bouquet of roses. Roses, for His Little Sister. This guy is a football star at a local college. His sister is a freshman girl who can use all the support she can get. He came to school to bring her flowers in her English class. I couldn't help telling him that one of the best things that can happen to a girl in our society is growing up knowing that she has the unconditional safe love of a male in her family. He Gets That Already. And he's only like, 21. I wanted to high-five him hard enough to break his arm.

2. My littlest sister is 13 years younger than I; she was five when I left for college across the country. I lived relatively Far Away for the next eight years. When I came back "home," to reconnect with my younger siblings in particular, a job as a seventh grade teacher in my former middle school made this possible: a job in the school where my sister was in 8th grade. This created some challenges for our relationship, as I had to tell her best friends to stop running in the halls, etc. But somehow, despite the fact that I subsequently followed her to high school, we managed to remain close, mutually respectful of one another, and way closer than our age difference would suggest.

In the early years, when I was a homesick college freshman and she was a kindergartener, our correspondence and phone conversations ended similarly, with each of us challenging the other to up the love ante: "I love you as many grains of sand there are..." "And I love YOU as many stars there in the ENTIRE UNIVERSE."

A month ago I was shopping for books to give a new mother and her baby, books we love in our household. I happened upon a book called I Love You As Much... with quotes in it like, "I love you as much as the forest has trees." I bought it for my sister, intending to send it to her for Valentine's Day. And alas, here it sits, buried in the indomitable pile of papers beside my computer that I vow daily to wade through. I remembered today that I forgot to send it to her.

I came home from work this evening and in the stack of mail on the dining room table I found a flat package from Barnes & Noble. Intrigued, not expecting anything today, I opened it to find a note from my sister, finishing up a grueling year of nursing school in a city across the country: "I love and miss you as many pages of notes I have written this year," and a book called I Love You the Purplest. Purple is my favorite color, and the book has quotes in it like, "I love you the color of a cave in its deepest, hidden part..."

I don't know quite what to say, on Valentine's Day, about sentiments and gifts that happen at the same time for important reasons. Except that life and love can be so amazingly wonderful.

1 comment:

me said...

Reading your day made me smile. I like to approach this day with no expectations, and then each thing that happens is a bonus.