02.14.16 Forty one was the number of valentines Norah, my granddaughter, created for her friends, teachers and fellow fifth grade classmates. Each one was individually crafted and she wrote a different message on each one, with sentiments such as “You are so good at math” or “You are so easy to be around because you go with the flow” or “You are so funny and so much fun to be with”. Forty one people, in this ten year old’s life, have written on their hearts, something kind and loving about themselves.
Forty one years ago, on Valentine’s Day, after a difficult labor and delivery, I gave birth to my daughter, Valerie. She had stopped breathing, with the umbilical cord tight around her neck, and I didn’t know until I came out of anesthesia from the emergency C-section, that my baby had lived. Valentine’s Day was always very special at our house. Dining rooms had red hearts hanging from crystal chandeliers, with pink and red streamers draped from corner to corner. I often think, on this most special day, of our last home together– the dining room was wallpapered in big red cabbage roses and glittering red hearts hung from the brass chandelier over the mahogany Queen Anne’s table, set with the ruby red goblets my mother gave me, when I married her father. Valerie’s long thick hair–so like her daughter’s–shined in the candlelight.
So here we are, on Valerie’s forty first birthday, with a daughter who sends out forty one valentine messages of love. It’s been enough to make me cry off and on all day.