That diamond necklace was my gift for her. She deserved it. She was my faithful and lovely wife. She always was the princess that I looked forward to going home to, every evening after work, without fail. Emily, I’m so sorry for leaving…
John was already fidgeting in the chair when she walked out of her room. My impatient son! Haha… he had grown up over the years! Now he was already a handsome five-year-old boy, just in his second year of preschool. Bright, affectionate, helpful. Emily used to tease me, saying that the best of John came from her. He was wearing that nice shirt Mom had bought for him. Emily had fussed over the idea of Mom giving him such an expensive shirt, but I will always remember what Mom patiently told her, “Let us grandparents spoil the kids in a way you parents will never do.”
All that John knew though, was that they were heading for a lovely dinner in Café France. My best friend Si Han owned the place. He had been such a kind soul, taking good care of my wife and son. Every Valentine’s Day, he would invite them to his café for a sumptuous meal, without fail, bill on the house. Thanks buddy, you know I owe you so much.
John was ecstatic. He was singing happily in the car, and Emily was trying to keep up with him. But Emily, oh Emily… The brokenness in her heart, the tears welling up behind her sunglasses, the pain she tried so hard to hide from John. My princess. She had always stayed strong before our son. She had always been the amazing mother, and the miraculous dad I should’ve been. Emily… if only I knew…
They reached the café. The valet took the car, and it disappeared into the underground carpark as they walked graciously into the café. Deep red balloons with scarlet heart-shaped velvet boards made the interior a sight to behold. Scented candle lights, crisps white sheets draped over table and chair, fresh roses on every table. Good job Si Han! It’s lovely!
They quickly decided on the meal that they wanted. As they sat down and waited, John looked around and saw young couples crooning to each other. He watched them hold hands and whisper into each other’s ears. My curious son! And he asked Emily, “Mummy, what’s going on? Why is everyone so cheeky today?”
Emily laughed, ever so happily. John blushed, wondering if he had asked a silly question. My princess took John’s hands, and slowly told him, “Well, you see, it’s Valentine’s Day today John…”
“What’s Valentine’s Day for, Mummy?”
My princess caught her breath at that question. I knew what was in her mind. A tear came to my eye too. Valentine’s Day was the day I met you at that silly Group Date event back in high school. Valentine’s Day was the day I first told you that I loved you and you ran away from me even though your house was two miles away. Valentine’s Day was the day you finally squealed and jumped into my arms, screaming “Yes!” at the top of your voice, with that gorgeous ring on your finger. Valentine’s Day was the day you changed your name and I shared mine with you.
“Valentine’s Day, John my darling, is a special day for lovers all over the world… to celebrate their love…”
But Valentine’s Day was also the day I blundered, the day I messed up my schedule and ended up rushing to the diamond shop. But Valentine’s Day was also the day, of all days, that I beat that traffic light without seeing that oncoming truck.
Valentine’s Day was the day I left my princess behind.
“John, do you know why we come here every year on this special day? It’s because many many years back, even before you were born, Daddy first kissed me here, and gave me this ring. Daddy asked me to marry him. And then we had you.”
Valentine’s Day was the day where you came tearing into the mortuary, screaming and fighting with all the doctors and nurses, until Si Han had to pull you back. Valentine’s Day was the day you finally stopped waiting for me. And on the final hour of Valentine’s Day, Si Han gave you that velvet box the police found in my wrecked car.
My princess never continued from there. She started sobbing quietly, and John was at a loss. Princess! Princess! Oh princess…
John held up a tissue slowly to his Mummy’s eyes. “Mummy, please don’t cry…” As she wiped the tears away, she could only smile back at John. The food finally arrived. John was slow in finishing, for the first time. And Emily was nothing but playing with the food.
Finally, my son, my brave and wonderful son, looked up into my princess’ eyes. “Mummy?”
I will be your Valentine.
My princess, stunned, put down her fork and spoon, and as those tears started coming all over again, she opened her arms to John. He got off the chair and went right into her arms. She held him, ever so tightly, and for the first time, she cried in front of our son.
“Sweetheart, you are always, and forever, my Valentine.”
My heart melted all over again. Those were the words I had said to my princess that evening when the moon was a perfect round marble in a black silk sky. Back when Si Han still had the second floor opened to the skies, basked in that layer of imaginary snow, I slipped that ring on her finger, and said those very words into her ears. And she too, cried, and wept in my arms.
Now I know, that the greatest love of all never dies, even after the love of one’s life has come and gone. I know too, that no matter what will come their way, they will always be safe in each other’s love.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
“And ever has it been that love knows not its own depth till the hour of separation.” – Kahlil Gibran, ‘The Prophet’