They Took My Guts
On Valentine’s Day, there was a sharp pain where there shouldn’t be. It had taken guts to call off my engagement, and that’s exactly what it cost me. “Your colon has to come out,” the doctors said. I wanted to tell them to take my heart too. Two weeks after I discovered my fiancé’s secret addiction, stress worsened my colitis to the point that I needed emergency surgery. My parents slept upright in plastic chairs next to my hospital bed. Mom’s hand moved over mine, and Dad’s body slumped toward the monitor. This is love, this is love, went my heart. — Bethany Sales
Can’t Bear to Be Without You
Downtown Seattle, 1995. Me: at work, feeling hopeless about marriage. On Valentine’s Day! I’m agonizing. Should we split up? Him: on a city bus headed my way to answer that question. Teddy bear: gigantic, almost bigger than us both, sitting next to him. People point, laugh, cajole. Teddy, with red bow tie, was found in store window marked “Not for Sale.” A sad man made generous offer to the store owner, who said, “Yes.” In my office, a man carrying a bear walks in, hands me a Valentine that says: “We cannot bear a future without you. Be ours, forever?” I say, “Yes!” — Diana Petra Perkins
In November 2013, my husband Jon ran the New York City Marathon. In February 2014, he was hospitalized for a seizure. At 51, he discovered that he had Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a monstrous, degenerative brain disorder. Within a week, Jon lost the ability to move his limbs and speak. But on Valentine’s Day he was still able to hold my hand and form his lips into a kiss. This photo, taken by our son, Henry, captures the final page of our 28-year story, where we felt the warmth of each other’s skin, took in each other’s gaze and began our goodbye. — Joyce Rutter Kaye
He Couldn’t Stop Saying, “Happy Valentine’s Day!”
It was the first in a long time that I had no Valentine. I expected to be miserable all day, but the opposite occurred. I worked for an industrial hygiene company. We were testing the soil for PCBs at the construction site of the future Pennsylvania Convention Center. I was sitting at my desk, waiting for test results, when a guy named Greg from the lab called. Every time we spoke, Greg said, “Happy Valentine’s Day!” By the third time, I started smiling. We spoke 13 times that day — by the end of which, we had a date. — Catherine Pennebaker
Singing Through the Blizzard
During a Valentine’s Day blizzard, I hired a singing telegram for my girlfriend. The singer arrived far later than planned in a velvet cape and gown that was covered in snow. She sang to us in our living room and then swirled back into the night. We marveled at how she made it to us at all. Twelve years later, I don’t remember what songs she sang, but I remember the feeling of that day: in bed, in love, the thickness of the world outside. Come spring, the snow melted and we split, but I still dream about her. — Amanda Blix
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