“I hate Valentine’s Day,” I said to my mom as I drove home from work the other night.
As the 14th nears, I’m still haunted by several disastrous V-Days. I’m talking "Lifetime movie dramatic breakup," "end the night drinking with a friend in sweatpants at Applebee’s" disastrous. Believe me, you DO NOT want to know who spends their Valentine’s night at Applebee’s. Really, the only person in the world who does want to know those gory details is my mom, who always listens to me with the patience of Job.
“I know. It’s tough for me too, sweetie,” my mom said in a soft, sad voice. When she said “sweetie,” it hit me that I had completely neglected the woman who, rain or shine, awkward acne or broken curfews, had been my Valentine for the past 24 years.
We chatted for a few more minutes, and as soon as I hung up the phone, the image of a big, red heart filled with candy popped into my head. Let me explain: When I was girl, my mom and I would always receive a box of chocolate from See’s Candy in the mail, usually a week before Valentine’s Day. It was from my grandmother.
I remember standing in the kitchen with my mom, both of us in our bare feet, reading over the See’s chocolate guide, negotiating who would get what.
“You can have the dark chocolate raspberry,” I’d say, “if I can have the dark coconut.”
My mom loves raspberry. We’d eat the candy slowly, a special treat each evening, over the next three or so weeks. The molasses chips were always the last to go, and the chocolate with peanuts would forever remain untouched. I guess it goes without saying that it was always difficult to throw the empty heart away.
We received our final box of chocolates when I was 16 years old. My grandmother died soon after, but every year since, my mom and I talk on Valentine’s Day and reminisce about how we savored each and every one of those chocolates and how much we miss my grandma.
When I walked into my apartment, there was only one thing to do. I grabbed my laptop, googled See’s Candy and ordered one huge, red heart-shaped box that would arrive at my mother’s house the week before Valentine’s Day.
The card simply read: “Because nothing was sweeter than sharing Grandma’s See’s candies with you. Love, S.”