Tag Archives: Valentines Day and Grief Healing

Cooking Up a Storm

In Ithaca, New York, Robin Botie photoshops landscapes from tabouleh and salmon.“Send me a picture of snow-laden trees,” my friend in Paris pleaded. But I was tired of seeing snow, of freezing my fingers as I traipsed through snowdrifts to photograph more snow. And another storm was coming. It was due on Valentines Day, a holiday I was trying hard to forget.

When a storm collides with a holiday it is impossible for me to override the urge to hunt-and-gather at Wegmans, hunker down at home, and cook huge quantities of comfort food. Shopping at Wegmans  erases any nervous commotion in my head, and all the miserable things going on in the world fade. It’s like coming home to mom. Wegmans is my go-to at the first flash of a Winter Storm Watch.

On Saturday, Wegmans looked like a Valentines Day theme park with huge displays of flowers and shiny red boxes of chocolates. The aisles were packed with people loading up for the minus 12 degrees and 4 to 8 inches of snow predicted for the Finger Lakes. The 5 things I came in for turned into 20 as I considered what else I might need to survive the holiday/storm combo. In the wilds of winter, I had a desperate longing for berries, tabouleh with fresh mint, and baked salmon. I picked up a bright bouquet of daisies and red carnations thinking I should get over my Valentines funk and buy myself a gift. But I put it down quickly; it had no scent and I couldn’t eat it.

So I came home and cooked up a storm.

When the scene outside my window whited out in a snowsquall, I found a fresh landscape in my refrigerator.


What do you do to pamper yourself in a storm?

Valentines for the Lost and Lonely

Valentines for the Lost and Lonely“Its heart is broken,” I say, to the woman at the counter, holding up a damaged box of Valentine’s Day chocolates. I buy it anyway. Plus ten Mozart chocolate balls. The shelves around me drip pink and red heart-shaped boxes and stuffed animals with bows. I hug my purchase and tell myself it’s “from Marika,” the daughter I loved so much that my heart broke when she died. On this holiday, one of her favorites, I will treat myself the way I treated her for twenty years; I will spoil myself.

For days I had listened with envy as my married and partnered friends yammered on about the jewels they got last year, the gifts they are expecting, and where they will be taken for dinner. I would not be receiving any bracelets or chocolate.  No chance this year; the men in my life being my son, my cat, Anderson Cooper of CNN nightly news, and this picture I took of an ancient Mesopotamian genie at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that’s sat on my desk for months waiting to be photo-shopped. If I wanted Valentine’s Day to happen, I would have to give up my lost and lonely cover. I would have to become the angel with the arrow.

So I mailed out cheerful cards to my mother, my Aunt Bope and friends who, like me, don’t have Valentine dates this year. And I lined up a dinner and chick flick with a neighbor for evening of the 14th. Then, in honor of my chemo warriors, survivors and deceased, I donated blood. Listening to the special V-Day music mix on the CD my daughter had made, I photo-shopped Facebook valentines for friends and made a list for Friday the 14th:

Send mushy email shout-out to my son.

Light an online candle for my father.

Light real candle and drink port for the memory of his mother, my beloved Omi Rosie.

Post online valentines and good cheer.

I feel like the Valentine fairy. In this coldest winter, I flit around crazily looking for good cheer to pass on. This holiday is just a silly opportunity to send out some welcome sweetness and warmth. But someone somewhere said the best way to mend a broken heart is to keep giving love to others. I say it’s to remember that life ends but love can live forever.