February 14, 2011

{Looking back at Valentine's Day}

Another Valentine’s Day is here and soon it will be history.  Soon the retail stores will remove the red hearts and start replacing them with Easter merchandise. Seasons change fast, so do emotions. Some feelings though, linger with us.

This Saturday Raka invited a few of her mid-distance running buddies over for a mini Valentine’s Day party after their run. Early that afternoon I started cooking and getting ready but the kids came in a few minutes earlier than I anticipated. The kitchen was not as ready as I would have liked but they were happy to have hot food. As Raka and her buddies huddled across the dining table they nibbled on the heart and kissing-lip shaped cookies and candies I had set out, but most of them were still on the table when the left. I realized (again) that they are not kids anymore.  I realized that they are much more grown up than I give them credit for.

I started thinking back about past Valentine’s Days with Raka. Earlier we went and bought Mickey Mouse Valentine cards. Then we used to print them at home – I remember both of us huddled in front of the laptop trying to choose the perfect clipart for that year’s Valentine. Then came the magical year, it was early 2000 and a new millennium. The Hindi movie craze of that time was Baghban. There was a song in the movie that was dedicated to Valentine’s Day, called Chali Chali and Raka loved the song. To surprise her and her mom, I planned a Valentine’s Day party in the basement with lots of white and red balloons. It was an evening to remember. Raka danced her heart out with her mom and me to Chali Chali. We took a lot of pictures and she drank a huge bottle of kid champagne. When the night was finally over Raka had a huge sugar-induced stomach ache to match the size of that bottle of grape juice.

The next morning Raka’s mom and I were looking at the pictures when she mentioned that it was very odd that there were hardly any pictures of her and me.  Most of the pictures were of Raka and me, or Raka and her mother. I thought for a second and stated that there are times in life, when a couple feels their love through their child. But still, Raka’s mom’s words stuck out with me.

The next month after that Valentine’s Day was the rockiest time in Raka’s life as she learned that her mom and I were going to get a divorce.  By the time Easter came that little girl’s life was changed forever. Since then Raka has gone through a lot of emotions, but pain and uncertainty were always the underlying emotions that overwhelmed her.

Valentine’s Days have come and gone since then, and even though we have not talked about it, I have seen memories of the past in Raka’s eyes. The song from Baghban simply got erased from our home.  Even though divorce arose out of differences that could not overcome between her mom and me, in the last eight years I have felt over and over how a married couple with kids should try their hardest to stay together for the sake of their children. Love does flow through the children to parents, and sometimes so does pain. Seeing the pain a child goes through after a divorce is reason enough to try one more time before pulling the plug on a marriage.

This Valentine’s Day, as I see Raka becoming a young lady and getting ready to fly away into the larger world, I hope and pray that the life ahead for her is full of love and happy memories.   She has turned into a beautiful young lady and fills the life of everyone around her with caring and love.  I am sure there are more Valentine’s Days with brand new happy memories in store for her.
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