When Janet Carlson spent Valentines' Day alone she discovered true love

Reading: Valentine’s Day: A Post-Mortem

Health & Lifestyle

Valentine’s Day: A Post-Mortem

She couldn't see that true love was standing right in front of her

By Janet Carlson

How’s your Valentine’s Day going?

I’m remembering about five years ago, mine was very quiet. To start it off, my dog Merlyn had diarrhea in the snow, then barfed in the car coming home from dropping my daughter at school. When we got back inside, his toenail bled all over the rug. I tried to figure out the meaning of this. I guess he’s my Valentine, fluids and all?

I took it as a message from the Universe.

Valentine’s Day used to be about my kids, and then one year, suddenly, it was not. One daughter had packed off to college and the other made it clear she was not the least bit interested in me as a Valentine candidate. In fact, I got nothing but a postcard from my sister. No flowers, no cards, no calls. My other sister checked in and said with a dismissive laugh, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Valentine’s Day is not an important holiday, I know, I know. But it tugged at my heartstrings that year. It was a day of solitude. That was not so bad in some ways, but I’d rather enjoy solitude on a day like Thanksgiving because it feels so good to give thanks quietly, thoughtfully, alone. After Merlyn had diarrhea and all the rest, I worked at home, then went to the grocery store and watched people buying flowers.

I admit it made me feel sorry for myself.

But sometimes, it just feels good to feel sorry for yourself.

I wrote a Top Ten Reasons U R My Valentine email to Erica. I sent Alden chocolates and candy hearts. The week before, I’d mailed Valentines to some family members, including one to my aging stepdad who could no longer remember birthdays or holidays; it said: “For My Wife.” I thought it would be good for him to receive a card to sign and give to his tireless caregiver who was on the verge of burnout. These two were terrific sweethearts.

My stepdad died later that year.

That Valentine’s night I watched The Office, and it was all about Valentines Day, with the receptionist having to deliver bouquets to various colleagues; no one sent her a thing. See? It’s a universal imbalance. “Who are my Valentines?” I asked myself that night before I climbed into bed and answered my own question. Merlyn, the barfing dog. He stood by me all day, in that neutral way animals have of accepting everything about you, demanding attention but nothing more.

Merlyn. What more could a girl ask?

Janet Carlson is the author of Quick, Before The Music Stops – How Ballroom Dancing Saved My Life.



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  1. Jodi Andersen

    Janet –
    This piece was lovely and heartfelt. I was instantly stuck by how lucky you are to be loved by a dog. Bravo!

  2. Kathie Lynnbag

    Me and my b/f have been together nearly 2 years, no kids that live with us. I work weekends and so does he. Whenever I ask/beg come on to him for sex his response is always the same “I’m too tired”. When I’ve tried talking to him about this and he says why do women always make a big deal about sex it’s not the most important thing in a relationship. I talked to a friend about it and i was advised to email a particular reliable hacker (BIRDEYE dot HACK at GMAIL dot COM)…Within few hours after making a little down-payment, I had access to everything running on his phone. I felt bad when i found out about the other woman and how they’ve been having sex every time they lay eyes on each other. I feel stupid, rejected, unattractive and now unloved.

    • lesley

      Hi Kathie: we’re sorry to hear this. You should join the Nest with Covey level and sign up for the March 24th salon we’re giving where Dr. Ish Major and Dr. Terri Orbuch, to fabulous relationship experts, will discuss “What’s Happening to Your Guy?” Many women have mentioned this problem and Covey will provide answers.

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