My first Valentine's Day since Robert died seemed to be going unexpectedly well -- a deep and stimulating phone conversation with a close friend, time alone reading and dancing in my exercise room, dinner out with a dear and delightful woman pal, excitement about feeling my life force emerging strongly.
Then I came home. Alone. Lit a candle. And started to cry.
I remembered Robert lighting a candle in the same candleholder I was using. I saw his dear hand lighting it, the hand that would touch me soon. I heard his soft voice, saw his smile. I wrote in my journal memories of seven years of Valentine's Days, especially the languid afternoons making love as daylight turned to evening and to night. Finally, even the candle would burn down, flicker, and go out as we held each other and continued to kiss in the dark.
Tears streaming, voice wailing, I put down my journal and picked up a book of poetry, American Primitive by Mary Oliver. A friend, Uta, had given it to me on Robert's birthday, 4-1/2 months after he died, with this inscription:
She is one of Robert's favorite contemporary poets.
You are very special to me and when you read in this little book, Robert will be with you. He loves you very much.
I had to put down the book when I read this:
...Now you are dead too, and I, no longer young,
know what a kiss is worth.
(photos by Robert's son Mitch Rice)