Dear Walt,

Today is Valentine’s Day which to you and I meant nothing. I don’t think we ever even wished each other a happy one. I’m quite sure you never brought me flowers. You may have given me candy. It was probably two years ago that you went to Shipley’s and bought two donuts and one cinnamon roll. It made me laugh because a Shipley’s cinnamon roll is really just a glazed donut with cinnamon rolled up inside. But it was yummy and we shared them with coffee in bed. Well, I was still in bed because you’d gone out early, but we sat together and enjoyed the sugar rush.

You hated buying gifts because you wanted gifts to be practical. You never quite got that sometimes frivolous is okay… though that’s not true. Your Christmas stockings epitomized frivolity. It was one of the cute things I loved about you. And the gifts you gave me were always great even if practical. They were rarely a surprise, however, since you couldn’t keep a secret.

Many times we bought them together, though you did surprise me a couple of years ago at Christmas with a new office chair. A couple of days before December 21st happened, I heard you through my office window talking to our son in law while y’all cleaned the pool about needing to get me something for Christmas. I hadn’t gotten you anything either. We’d agreed not to exchange gifts since we were spending so much on the house. It tickled me to hear that. The words were enough of a gift, knowing you were thinking of me. That was the best gift of all.

We didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because we didn’t need to. We celebrated our love daily. Even now there’s a box of cocoa packets in the upstairs pantry kitchen that you bought early in December because you’d heard me bemoan the loss of my Cocomotion machine in Harvey and I was cold and wanted cocoa. I didn’t ask you to do it. You just did. That’s who you were. Same with the box of Marie Callender pot pies you picked up at Costco. No one ate them but me. You put gas in my car. You kept the washer fluid filled. You knew which laundry detergent I liked.

I could go on forever with the way you thought of me daily. Especially when it came to my failing eyesight and knowing when I needed light, when I needed your hand to avoid a bad step. You would lead the way to the right movie seat. You would ask to sit in a lighted section of a restaurant. You thought of my sight issue often before it even occurred to me to do so. Then there were the road trips and you’d ask every time we approached a rest area if you should stop. You were the best road trip companion. I loved our long drives, all the time to talk, more time to be silent while holding hands. You would’ve much preferred to fly but you drove for me.

Every single day with you was about love. You said the words as naturally as you said my name. I miss hearing them even while I easily recall you mumbling them before falling asleep. You would say them out of the blue when we’d been laughing together, or when we’d been quiet, each working then looking up and catching the other’s eye. They lost none of their meaning for how often we spoke them. They meant that much more because of how fully and genuinely they were felt. You would sign off a text chat with that one word: Love.

That one word was everything. Love. I love you. I still love you. I will love you forever with all of my heart just as you loved me forever with all of yours.