Today was my first Valentine’s Day without you.

Since you were in the restaurant business, it was always a really busy day for you. So it’s not like we went out to dinner or anything romantic like that. You were always at work, right?

Still…I knew I was your Sweetheart. And that mattered so much to me – even if we weren’t physically together. So I told myself all day today that it’s actually still true.

Look how I’m saving us money by being my own Grief Therapist!

It did hit me hard though. I feel completely untethered without you. For 35 years my entire existence was wrapped up in US.  You and me. Who we were together. I was always one half of a whole. I know that’s a very un-chic way to look at one’s life and relationships these days. Some who read this might suggest therapy for me because I approached our life that way.  It’s very anti-culture, but at least it was that way for both of us.

Anyway, I’ve gotten a million texts and phone calls from people letting me know they are thinking about me on my first Valentine’s Day alone.

You’d be so proud of me. I got our dishwasher fixed today!  All by myself.  Well, not actually all by myself.  So this guy, Josh, was sort’ve my Valentine. You know how much I’ve always hated dealing with workmen, but I’ve been washing dishes by hand since the day after you died, so it was worth it. He charged me $347.39, so maybe he didn’t feel the same way about me that I felt about him.

But when the dishwasher cycled all the way through, I kind’ve loved him a little.

I also had James’ car towed to the shop and am texting back and forth with the mechanic about what exactly is wrong and how much it will cost to fix it.

I took our new “Therapy Puppy” (read: pain in my arse) to the backyard to potty and swept out the pool while I was outside with him. You would be rolling over in your grave if you saw all the orange dirt coating the bottom of your pool. I knew you’d be so proud of me for thinking to sweep it while the puppy is peeing and the pool guy is fixing the automatic pool sweeper.

I also turned on the hose and put some water on that new little tree you planted out back and were obsessing about. That old Bobby Goldsboro song from the 60s keeps running through my head, “And Honey I miss you, and I’m being good…and I long to be with you, if only I could…”

Remember that song? You used to like to sing it every time I wrecked one of our cars.   You really wore it out that one time I wrecked one of our cars into our other car!!!

“She wrecked the car and she was sad, and so afraid that I’d be mad, but what the heck!”

I’m so sorry I wrecked so many of our cars, and I know how frustrated you always were with my less-than-stellar driving skills, but at least I gave you a lot of opportunities to belt out that song. And you know you loved that song, especially when it made me cry and I begged you not to sing it because it made me sad to think about one spouse trying to live alone after the other one is gone.

On a positive note, I’ve become a bit of an expert on death and grieving and grief-support these past few weeks. I feel like I could author some kind of a How-To pamphlet on “Responding to a Friend or Neighbor Struck by Tragedy and Grief.”

One thing that has captured my attention is how many people have texted, emailed and sent me cards telling me I’m the “strongest woman they know!” What in the world are they basing that on? The false bravado I displayed at your funeral? Or all the years I was brazen and ballsy when you were alive? What woman wouldn’t be strong with a man like you standing behind her?

Now, I’m all alone. It’s just me. How in the world does anyone have any idea how strong I actually am? In the past 4 months I’ve lost my mother and the Love of my Life. I’m not at all sure that I’m strong.  But I am on to everyone.   I think our dear and well-meaning friends are employing the “self-fulfilling prophecy.” You know the drill – just tell people positive things you want them to believe about themselves and they will embrace it, believe it, live it out.

I don’t blame them. It’s a great approach. We raised 5 kids that way.

I’m having trouble getting hot water for my bath in the morning. And you know my morning (afternoon/evening) bath is my only comfort. At first I thought it was all the people camping out and showering here after you died that were usurping our hot water supply. But then after everyone cleared out, the problem persisted.

I know you always told me in the wintertime I need to draw the hot first and then add enough cold to cool it down so I can get in without burning my skin. I never listened.

I’m going to do that tomorrow morning. Now that you’re gone, I’m going to try to start doing a lot of the things you said.

It’s crazy to me that so much of our stuff broke the week after you died. Are you up in heaven trying to prove some kind of a point? If you are, can I just cry “uncle” now and wake up?

Is that what this is really all about? Is this actually some Dickensonian tale like “A Christmas Carol,” where the spoiled wife wakes up and realizes it was all just a bad dream? And then she turns over a new leaf and finally appreciates her wonderful husband for all that he was to her?

If you would just walk through the door and say, “Just Kidding!” I promise I would never take you for granted again.

But I’m a tiny bit mad at you that I’ve got that stinkin’ song stuck in my head. And I hope you’re getting a little kick out of that somewhere.