I just remembered Valentine's Day when I was in the fifth grade. I was home sick, wandering around the house, lonely, watching endless television. An only child, illness was something to be evaluated by my mother. If I was very sick she stayed home with me and we played board games. But if I just had a cold or a low grade fever, I was on my own.
Home alone, with a telephone check every few hours to see if I was still alive. On good days my mother returned home late in the afternoon with a Nancy Drew Mystery or the latest Little Lulu comic book. Was that supposed to make up for all the hours alone watching As The World Turns, and Queen for a Day?
That year my low grade fever had kept me home for weeks. And the worst part was that I was missing my classroom's Valentine's Day party! This was awful. Who would even bother to give me a Valentine? Most the kids probably had already forgotten me, as if I had moved to Milford or New Haven! Out of sight, out of mind! And how could I get my Valentine's to them?
My mother solved the last problem. She would drop off the brown paper bag with my Valentine's in it as she left for her college studies. (She was soon to become an elementary school teacher) But I was more concerned with who would remember me? And what about Scott? Did he miss me?
I had this mild crush on him that was intensifying as I lay around the house. He was so cute with red hair and freckles. Maybe I was falling love. Maybe he would really like me, someday.
Valentine's Day came and went and all the soap operas floated past me as I dozed on and off on the den couch. Of course every show was full of the drama of love on Valentine's Day. Search for Tomorrow, As the World Turns, each had the significant romance that was at risk and reaching a crisis. I don't remember the plots all these years later, but I do remember feeling so lonely and wanting to be loved.
The Great Divine was good to me. I was out of school another two or three weeks, but somehow someone delivered to me a couple of days after Valentine's Day a large manila folder. And guess what was in it? Valentine's from just about everyone in my class. And one of the nicest was from Scott!
I treasured those Valentine's for the rest of my illness. Every day I looked through the package. 'Will you be my Valentine?'; 'A special Valentine just for you!'; 'Be mine forever'; and from Scott: 'Won't you be my Valentine?'.
Scott's Valentine made it under my pillow. Better to sleep close to it. After all, I did need so much for someone to hold my hand. This was the best I could get, a Valentine probably randomly chosen by Scott, or maybe even his mother, under my pillow.
Years later, some of that longing for someone to hold my hand was still there, more so when I wasn't dating someone, but still there at times even when I had a boyfriend. Then the Beatles appeared. There music captured that hole I thought no one else ever felt. They understood!
I never had a crush on any of them, but they gave me a sense of comfort about my own hungers. We were all out there, hungry for love, hungry for more time with people we could or thought we could love, hungry to be held. This emptiness was something we were all in together! What a relief. There was something comforting about belonging to this giant human dilemma of loss and love and connection that we were all facing. And the good news was I wasn't so lonely anymore.
Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, Positive Psychologist and Happiness Coach
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