There’s something especially dread-worthy about Valentine’s Day this year – my first V-Day alone since I was pubescent. Not that I remember doing anything particularly memorable for this Hallmark Holiday in many, many years. It’s a similar feeling to New Year’s at the stroke of midnight – like, I know what you’re doing out there … without me. I actually do remember how exciting firsts are with a new luh-huh-ver (channeling Adele) – major holidays, that New Year’s midnight kiss, “Our First Valentine’s Day”. Gah, especially if you’re both Love Bombs. It’s sure to be an extravaganza! I’m imagining flowers (delivered to work for ultimate impact), cards, chocolates, bubble baths (I seem to recall a trail of rose petals that led from the front door all the way to the tub back when weeeee were young (yep, Adele again) and celebrating our first V-Day). And there will be sex. More sex than I’ve had in years. YEARS I TELL YOU.
Left behind is a shitty place to be on Valentine’s Day.
Maybe it wouldn’t hurt so bad if I didn’t know how they relish in my pain. Social media is a real kick in the ass in this modern age of breaking up. Well, that is before I was fully blocked. Blocking, I discovered, was often strategic. I’d be blocked for a bit *until* a flower delivery and then someone would make sure that I could see that bidness. Honestly, I don’t need to do my own research (er, mild stalking?), someone typically sends me a screenshot or mentions a particularly intriguing (or revolting) post. Love Bomb and I share over 100 friends on Facebook, and there are people looking out for me, many of whom are not impressed with how quickly and easily I was replaced.
But New Girl and Love Bomb, they’re laughing AT me and at my expense, “Haha’ing” on posts that, clearly, are about me. Strategic.
Love Bomb didn’t do that shit to “Caroline”, whom she dumped – for me. It was clear all along that she actually had a sense of remorse, guilt, and a certain degree of sorrowful respect for the one she left behind with no explanation or warning. Granted, we didn’t have social media back then (because OLD), but I certainly never laughed at or talked shit about Caroline – ever. I felt guilty and horrible with the knowledge that she was left alone, traded in and replaced. And I … I was the home wrecker. I desperately hoped she might find it in her heart to forgive me someday. We were civil, but was there forgiveness? In hindsight, no, I don’t think so. Not with the knowledge I not only understand, but now share about just how terribly it hurts to be replaced without so much as a real conversation. She was just better at maintaining a friendship with Love Bomb, despite me. She was a better, stronger person than I. She was better at hiding the pain.
Love Bomb and Caroline had a special, undeniable connection. If you couldn’t tell by looking thru just a few of the 9 years worth of photos of a life they shared, it was unmistakable when it came to Caroline’s passing.
Yes, Caroline died. In hospice care – in a room overcrowded with other dying people.
She should have died in her home. The home they purchased and made theirs. The home I was sharing with Love Bomb at the time. A home I never really felt comfortable in. It wasn’t mine.
The morning Caroline died started much like any other. Love Bomb got in the shower while I enjoyed a few more minutes of shut-eye. Her shower was brief; she dressed quickly. She came in to the bedroom and announced that she had to go see Caroline before work. She said she felt an urgent need to go to hospice, like, right now. And so she did.
In some cosmic sort of way Caroline summoned Love Bomb, waited for her, and moments later, she passed away.
I, for one, feel horrendously guilty, and I wonder if it ever occurs to Love Bomb that she threw away a relationship with someone that she was genuinely cosmically connected to. She brushed it off, “everything happens for a reason”, and explained: “I couldn’t have managed that loss if we were still together”. It would have been devastating, of course. Maybe she’s right – maybe she couldn’t have dealt with that loss – she won’t manage the loss of people who are still living and breathing. She will NOT be alone.
Caroline, I’m so sorry that I was a part of your loss, and that by participating in an adolescent game of passion, I took so much more than just your best friend and partner. I wish we all would have done things differently. Soon, I’ll do an entry about the things we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better in light of the crappy things we do and say. I think back on those excuses now and can hardly stand myself. My only solace is that I’ve done the hard work to let the grief in; I’ve reflected upon, grown, and learned from my mistakes. I did not appreciate that my 22 year old self could actually change lives and futures forever. I was thoughtless and impulsive, and 22 was my excuse. At 43, one birthday more than you ever enjoyed, Caroline, I get it now, and I’m sorry.
I wonder what you did that first Valentine’s Day alone in 1999 as I followed a trail of rose petals to my tub. Are you laughing at me now? Do you laugh just like they do?