it is valentine’s day. big pressure day. you’ve either got a valentine or you’re a loser.
i am in the cardiac unit of evanston hospital being detoxed from alcohol. i am in a lot of pain but i have been promised that if i have a good night and sleep, don’t pace, don’t get agitated, don’t ask for any meds, don’t fall apart, i can go home tomorrow. not that i have a plan when i get there. rehab? not so sure. aa? i want it to work, but i understand that in the united states at least the success rate has been pegged at roughly 15%.
in any event, it’s valentine’s day. i am wearing a hospital gown that is three days old and i haven’t had a shower in as long. but i have a valentine.
when i was seventeen, i met my two best friends ever. dick and vivian eastman, both in their early sixties. dick taught my english class. vivian was the secretary at the elementary school. their three daughters are still my closest living friends, i would call them sisters. vivian died when she was in her early nineties in november. on the following valentine’s day morning i received a phone call from dick.
“would you be my valentine?” he asked.
i laughed. he laughed.
“whatever will we tell the kids?” i asked him.
and so, that year i had a valentine. he was ninety four. he had difficulty walking. he had twenty four hour caregivers. i didn’t even see him that day. but he was my valentine nonetheless.
this evening, i was returning messages on facebook. a facebook friend in his twenties and i texted back and forth about being lonely and particularly lonely on valentine’s day. i told him if i were thirty years younger and if he didn’t live eighteen hundred miles away, he’d be fending me off. he messaged back that age is nothing but a number and geography, well, that’s what facebook is for.
so we are valentines. just for one day. a wonderful day. we are going to the movies. we are having dinner. we are watching the stars as we fall asleep. we are going to the pancake house when we wake up. and he promises to respect me in the morning. is it real? well, it’s on facebook so of course it’s real. and who knows? maybe it will be one day.
i’m still wearing the hospital gown. i’ve still got eight monitors and an i.v. drip going. i haven’t taken a shower or washed my hair in three days. i have the sweats and the shakes. but i have a most wonderful valentine and the most wonderful smile on my face. and i hope he does too. who knows? maybe one day we will go see a movie together. like really see a movie together. tonight, he’s saving me and he doesn’t even know it because i will go to sleep smiling, i won’t pace, i will resist the urge to ask for meds.
for now, thank you mark zuckerberg. because this wouldn’t be possible without you.