Rated: E · Non-fiction · Experience · #2290995
A Valentine's Day I will never forget.
|It was February 13th. My younger sister and I sat at the dining room table making valentines from construction paper to exchange at school the next day. While cutting out a red heart I thought of how wonderful it would be to have store-bought cards. I received a few last Valentine's Day. They were so cool. A bee was buzzing on one with the caption “Bee mine”. Another was a girl wearing an apron and a baker’s hat saying “Hi Sugar! Let’s be valentines”. There was no way the five of us kids would get expensive store-bought cards. I was thirteen years old. I was feeling embarrassed to give out homemade cards. What was I to do?|
I decided to convince my mom I was too sick to go to school. Avoiding the problem would be my problem solution. I had to convince her my fib was genuine. I was just achy all over my body, and I moaned. My head hurt. I put both hands on my forehead while purporting to have a fever. I said I did not think I could make the walk to school because the bones in my legs hurt. I knew she did not believe a word I said.
For starters, I had to wake her up. She was rarely up before we got ready and left for school. My dad worked in New York City until midnight. She waited up until 1:30 am for him every night. I was so happy when I wore her down and she finally said okay. She did warn me I better stay in bed all day if I was so sick. Oh no. I had visions of sitting in front of the TV drinking cocoa.
A little after 3 pm Mom woke me up. She didn’t call up from downstairs, she was knocking at my door. I told her to come in. She told me someone was at the front door asking to see me. What? No one ever came to my house to see me. Except for our next-door neighbors, who just walked in, no one came to the door asking for me.
Me: Who is it?
Mom: He said his name is Bobby.
Me: It's a boy?
Mom nodded. He said he is in your class.
Me: What does he want?
Mom: He didn’t say but he is holding a red box and flowers.
I jumped out of bed looking at her in disbelief. Bobby was at Sandy’s boy/girl party last Saturday night, The first party I went to where both girls and boys attended. We played spin the bottle. I honestly did not understand the point of the game. Later he was sitting on the sofa with Sandy. He was cute and polite. He had curly brown hair, was taller than most of the boys in my class, and wore a neatly ironed white shirt with a tie to school every day. He did smile at me a few times.
I went to the door. Bobby was standing there holding a huge box of chocolates in a red heart-shaped box. A wide satin red ribbon was wrapped around it ending in a huge bow on top. We were standing there quite alone outside staring at each other for a long time. I had no idea what to say. I accepted the box. He told me he was sorry I was sick. He said he brought the chocolates to class hoping everyone would see that he liked me. For the first time, I felt my heart thumping in my chest. I said you do? That’s nice. There were a few more words spoken between us. He then said he hoped I felt better and that he would see me tomorrow at school. He walked down to the street where I saw a woman, presumably his mother, waiting in their large green car.
That was the last time I saw Bobby. Valentine’s Day was on a Thursday. He was out of school sick the next day on Friday, and the entire following week, which turned into the entire month. And then another.
One day I was leaving school. I decided to walk down a different path to go downtown to buy my little sister some M&Ms. I saw that same woman, from the green car in front of my house, walking briskly up the walk with Bobby. I opened my mouth to say hello and nothing came out. My heart was pounding outside of my chest. I began to sweat profusely. They were both looking forward and walked by as if I was invisible. I had a bad feeling something was extremely wrong. I was correct. A few days later we were told Bobby had withdrawn from school. He must have been coming to school to pick up his things the day I saw him. Before school ended in June the principal came into our class to tell us Bobby had died.
My oldest sister was a friend of his sister, Grace. She asked Grace for details. Grace told her it was a malignant brain tumor. I had no idea what a tumor or cancer was. It was one of the saddest days of my life.
Whenever I am at a loss for words I think of those moments on my porch. I feel my heartbeat speed up while my throat feels like it is closing tight. My mind's eye sees Bobby standing on my front porch admitting I was his secret crush. He was, is, and will forever be the 13-year-old lead player in an unrehearsed play staged on my front porch, 62 years ago today, Valentine's Day.