Due to family obligations and work situations, a good friend and I had not had the opportunity to connect for a few months. Last Wednesday, I sent her a text message. I asked if she would be free to have lunch together soon and catch up on our lives. My friend, Olga, answered me by texting that she was free on Saturday. I excitedly let her know that Saturday would work for me as well.
The next day, Thursday, however, I suddenly realized that Saturday was Valentine’s Day. I had completely forgotten about the holiday and wondered if my friend would have plans with her family. I sent her another text message to remind her about the holiday. Would Saturday still work for her? Olga quickly answered back. Yes, Saturday was still good. She had no other plans. Is Saturday good for me? Yes…unfortunately….I had no other plans for Valentine’s Day either.
So I woke up early and went to the gym. After my workout, I showered and quickly got dressed for the lunch appointment. On the way to my friend’s house, I impulsively decided to stop by Wal-mart to grab a few small Valentine’s for her children. I picked up small heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and sticker books for both of Olga’s little daughters, Jolie and Valkyrie. Before I got to the register, though, I thought about the fact that Olga usually had several of her nieces and nephews staying at her home. Since this was a holiday, I would feel awful giving to Olga’s two daughters and leaving the other little kids out. I quickly tried to add up in my head how many nieces and nephews Olga had. I quickly grabbed several more candy boxes, sticker books, and boxes of Transformer trading cards. I paid for the items and then ran out to my car. I drove over to my friend’s house.
I parked in front of Olga’s house, grabbed the Wal-mart bag, and climbed out of the car. I walked up to the front door. Before I could knock, though, the door opened and Olga’s sister, Lucy, stepped outside. We shared a quick hug before I walked inside the house. Lucy’s little daughter, Jay, was waiting inside the door. The child suddenly threw her arms around my legs and gave me a deep hug. I was surprised that she remembered me. It had been several months since she had seen me. I pulled out a candy box and a sticker book and handed it to her. “Happy Valentine’s Day!” I told her. Jay shrieked with excitement, grabbed the items, and ran down the hallway to the back bedroom waving the book and candy box over her head.
“Say thank you,” Lucy was screaming out to the little girl.
At the end of the hallway, Jay stopped and turned around to look at me. “Thank you,” she squealed before turning and running through the far right door.
“Go on,” Lucy told me. “Everyone is in the back bedroom.”
I walked down the hallway and entered the same doorway Jay had disappeared through a few seconds before. Jay stood by a small table showing three other small children the treasures she had just received. The children looked away from their coloring books and stared at the heart-shaped box of candy that Jay held out to them. I didn’t want the other children to think I forgot about them, so I quickly pulled out of the bag the other boxes of candy, books, and trading cards. I was surprised how thrilled the little kids were with these simple treasures. They excitedly hugged the heart shaped boxes to their chests and giggled delightedly! And they wouldn’t stop climbing on me! They held my hands and wrapped their small arms around me for hugs and kisses.
After a few minutes, Olga was ready to leave. I handed the Wal-mart bag to Lucy and let her know that the rest of the candy and sticker books were for the other small nieces and nephews who were not present at the time. Olga and I left the house then and went out to a local Chinese restaurant. We spent the next three hours sitting together, talking, crying laughing, sharing. The whole experience was a reconnection of our friendship. A beautiful 10-year friendship that is as fresh and clean today as it was when we had first meet in 2004. My friend and I have been through a lot together. Relationships, marriages, breakups, pregnancies, children, moves, job changes, emergency room visits, spiritual awakenings, deaths. Though a few months can go by before we see each other again, I have never doubted her friendship and kindness. After 3 hours, we left the restaurant and headed back to her house.
I walked with Olga up to the front door of her home. The door opened and Jay pulled into the living room. I stood in the kitchen and played with the kids. I laughed with Olga’s children, Jolie and Val. I held hands and teased with her nephew, Junior. I watched Lucy’s small baby, Javin, stumble across the living room while he laughed uproariously. I watched Jay perform endless tumbling routines around the house.
Finally, I told Olga and Lucy I needed to head back home. Jay responded by wrapping her arms around my legs as I tried to walk to the door. “I don’t want you to go,” she whispered as she held tightly to my legs. She turned her head back to look at her mother. “I don’t want her to go. Her has to stay. I want her to stay.”
“No,” Lucy told her. “Jamie has to leave now.”
“I go home with her,” Jay stated.
I laughed then. “Oh, I don’t think you want to come home with me,” I told her as I bent down to give her a hug. “You don’t want to come home with me. I’ll make you do the dishes and clean the bathroom. You’ll have to do the laundry.”
“I’ll do it! I’ll do it!” Jay screamed as she jumped up and down excitedly.
“Oh, she will do it,” her mother laughs. “She tries to do half the housework around here.” Oh, so I guess that threat wasn’t going to work with Jay. It usually keeps me away from home.
I laughed then and watched as the children continued to run and dance through the house, all of them holding the small, heart-shaped candy boxes. After a while, I told Olga I needed to head home. Before I was able to make it to the door, I was buried underneath a flurry of little bodies all hugging and kissing and screaming for me. I hugged each of the children good-bye before I was finally being able to step outside of the house. I walk over to my car, climbed in, and headed for home. As I drove along Ramon Road, I thought of the stories, secrets, and emotions my friend and I had shared at lunch. I thought about dancing and playing with all of the beautiful children. I was amazed that simple heart-shaped boxes of chocolate could create so much excitement. I suddenly realized then that I had just had one of the best Valentine’s Days of my life.