I have found myself lately struggling to hold onto my good memories of Craig. I had a problem with this early on after he died and it seems to be cropping back up again - I can remember all these awful fights and horrible things he did, but seem to struggle to remember all the wonderful moments we had, which I know far outweighed any of the bad.
Why does this happen?
Is it because the emotional pain associated with the bad memories is that much stronger than all the feel-good butterflies that came from the happy moments? Am I only now analyzing a relationship that wasn't as good as I had previously thought? Or is it simply because the anger is easier to deal with than the sadness?
My guess would be the latter.
Anger gives us focus, it gives us energy. Anger leads to outrage and outrage leads to rattling of sabres and, ultimately, action. It can spur you off the couch and give you the energy and motivation you need to get that paperwork done, clean the house, and start checking things off that never ending to-do list.
Well I just realized the other day that Valentine's Day is coming up and it got me pondering all sorts of things, including the above sentiments. You see, I have mixed feelings about Valentine's Day.
I used to insist Craig buy me flowers and a card or something, anything. Craig wasn't so great at the 'planned romance' - he was more of a spontaneous kind of guy. It wasn't unusual for him to leave getting me a gift or making a dinner reservation for Valentine's Day (or birthdays, or anniversaries, or any other special occaision) until the last minute only to have it all fall apart, leaving him looking like a jerk and me mad as hell.
But then out of nowhere, on a random January morning he'd send flowers to my work with a note just to say he loved me. Or I'd come home to my favourite chocolate bar sitting on my pillow and a note taped to the door that he couldn't wait to see me when he got home. C- for planning but A+ for winging it.
Over the years I realized it mattered less and less what Craig got me or where we ate dinner on Valentine's Day. In fact, it wasn't unusual for us to curl up on the couch with a couple movies, a bag of chips, and an unnecessary amount of ice cream.
Last Valentine's Day wasn't all that different. I reminded Craig a few times in January to make a reservation somewhere so he could take me on a date. It was a super busy time of the year for me at work so even this was pretty hit or miss until the day of as to whether or not I'd even be able to make it. As usual, Craig never got around to making a reservation and didn't find much more than a card for me. A rather obnoxious one covered in little red hearts and a cutesy puppy dog that I'm pretty sure was designed for an eight year old ready to confess his love to a pretty blond classmate.
Given that Valentine's Day fell on a Sunday and I was actually able to celebrate it properly, I was a little miffed about his lack of planning this time around. There might have been some serious wifely pouting and cold shouldering going on.
Having been married for over four years, Craig knew trouble when he saw it. In what has to go down as one of the smoothest recoveries of all time, he announced to me that he was actually going to buy me a Coach bag (something we definitely couldn't normally afford and that I was constantly drooling over photos of online). I had been begging and begging for one for months to no avail. I knew Craig was more or less pulling this one out of his arse as a gift simply to save himself, but I didn't care, I was getting a Coach!
We spent hours at the mall (something both of us hated in equal measure under normal circumstances) pouring over all the glorious bags at the Coach store. I oohed, I ahed, I wept for joy. Craig stood patiently, shuttled from one bag to another amidst my squeals of 'Look at this one!' and 'It's so gorgeous!' in the most good natured way possible. He was a saint. Not once did he complain or sigh or beg me silently with his eyes to please hurry the hell up or put him out of his misery.
In the end I practically skipped out of the store with my brand new Coach, excited beyond measure. I ended up forking over my credit card for it, not Craig, but that hardly mattered to me since we shared all our accounts anyway.
I love that Coach bag. I have used it ever since. It is beyond precious to me. Not just because it's gorgeous or because I waited what felt like eons to get it (which it is and which I did).
I love it because every time I hold that bag I remember my poor Craig, so intent on making up for his gift oversight, that he stood patiently in a girly girl purse shop at the mall for hours on his one day off, just to make me smile. That he wanted so badly to make me happy for just one day that he didn't just shell out some cash for flowers or chocolates but spent hours in misery, pretending he wasn't, just because he loved me.
And that is one damn good memory.