I was in a Hallmark card shop with my father, looking at cards for theupcoming holiday. If I got you that card now, then it wouldnt be a surprise later, my father logicallystated. But its neat! See, it folds into a spaceship. Ill get it for you but. . .
just act surprised for your mother when you open the card. Okay dad, I answered as we walked up to the counter. My father paid for the card andwe left the store. It was a week before Valentines Day in 1987.
I was nine years old and intensely anxious. Expectation for February 14 had overcome every other thought I previously had. It might seemfunny to some that I held that one day with such great esteem, but to me it was unlike any otherholiday. On Valentines Day I felt loved by everyone. On that day, I would obtain the card that Ihad picked out from my father.
Classmates would give everyone Valentine cards. Someextremely generous kids would even attach candy to the cards. It didnt matter if you hated eachother, on Valentines Day everyone put aside their differences and even presented cards to thechildren nobody liked. That one day of love seemed to unify the worst of foes through love andforgiveness. I could hardly wait for that day to come.
As the night before Valentines Day had rolled around, anticipation had escalated to an alltime peak. Nevertheless, it was all set aside as my parents once again started to fight. My brotherand I were sent to the car in the garage so that we would not witness them fighting. We knew theroutine. I was scared and I could still hear angry voices dueling back and forth. My brother wasa senior in high school and even he seemed frightened when they fought.
Although he tried tohide his fear, I knew he was afraid when my father would go on a rampage. An hour passed byand my brother and I decided to go back inside. The house was still. A pin could have dropped and we would of heard it. My father hadgone to lay down in his bed.
This action was suggested by the marriage counselor that myparents had been visiting. Whenever my father got angry, he was supposed to rest until he calmeddown. The problem was that he would lay down after he had let out all his anger, verbally orphysically. My mother came downstairs.
She had gathered some stuff together. Come on, get yourjackets and get in the car. After we went to our rooms to get our coats, we went outside and got into our old stationwagon that my brother used to drive to school. My brother put the car in neutral and coasted outof our driveway and down the hill. At the bottom of the hill he turned the ignition and drove to afriends house to stay for the evening.
My mother called my father from there. I was down in the basement with the two children of the family, talking to them. Imentioned that my parents might get divorced, but in my stomach I knew they wouldnt. Howcould my parents even discuss such a thing on Valentines Day? Besides, we were talking aboutmy mother and my father. Divorcing only happens to other kids parents.
I felt comforted as Idrifted off to sleep. The next morning when I woke up, I was sick to my stomach. My allergies to the familystwo Siamese cats must have acted up. My mother told me we were going home so to getdressed.
We arrived home shortly. As we drove into the driveway I noticed all of the curtains wereshut. We opened the door and stepped into the dark house. I looked around for my father but hewasnt there. I had learned that my father went to stay with a coworker. Where did Valentines Day go? Had I missed it? The whole idea of Valentines Day is tocelebrate love and togetherness.
Yet the decision to separate had come on this day of unity. I feltnauseous. My mother comforted me and told me my fathers move was temporary. However I nowknew what .