The Best Serenade
I was 21 years old before I was actually dating someone when Valentine’s Day rolled around. But as my luck would have it, my boyfriend ended up having knee surgery on February 14th. I went out for dinner with one of his best friends instead, but we will save that story for another day!
By the time we got to Valentine’s Day the following year, my boyfriend and I had been dating over a year. In that year, we made it through a near break up and through it all had discovered something beautiful- we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. As a result, I had high expectations for Valentine’s Day. I was in love! This meant I would finally get the cards, the roses and the chocolate, right?
Well, maybe not.
His hand was warm in mine as we walked the familiar streets. We had walked them a hundred times together, but on this night, I was crying. I wanted to spend the evening with the man I loved. Instead, he was walking with me to the home where I would spend the evening babysitting. This did not fit my idea of the perfect Valentines celebration.
I tried to smile as he kissed me, telling me he would be there in a few short hours to pick me up, but I was miserable. I did my best to love on the little ones who were in my care, but I doubt I was the best babysitter that night. I counted down the hours until bedtime. And then I counted down the minutes until the parents returned home. I couldn’t get in the elevator quickly enough and was thrilled to see my favorite person waiting exactly where he said he would be.
Once again, we walked down the familiar streets hand in hand, but this time my heart felt lighter and he had a knowing smile on his face. As we got closer to the place where I knew we would say goodnight, he reached into his pocket and pulled out…
…a cassette tape! He noticed my confusion and encouraged me to read the front cover. This is when I discovered the best Valentine’s gift I have ever received.
The entire time I was babysitting and wallowing in my disappointment, he was recording a song that he wrote for me.
After saying goodnight (because our Bible college had girls and boys dorms as well as a curfew!), I stumbled up to my room to listen to his song.
His song told me the story of his evening. While I was making macaroni and cheese, he was browsing through Valentine’s cards, trying to find one that would perfectly express his love for me. But he couldn’t find any and so he gave up and decided to write a song instead. Because he realized that he could say it better himself and he knew how much I loved to hear him play guitar.
While I counted down hours, he was counting beats in a measure, weaving notes in beautiful chord progressions.
While I allowed myself to be disappointed by unmet expectations, he demonstrated the ability to make the most of any situation.
For the second time that night, I found myself in tears, but this time it was because I had learned a lesson about what love truly means. His song was a lesson in selflessness, in letting go of expectations and in seeking to love another in meaningful ways. His song Be My Valentine, is timeless. Roses have been thrown away through the years, too much chocolate has been eaten and cards end up taking up space.
But his gift of song lives on.
The Best Serenade!
I’m not sure why, but I have struggled a great deal with writing this post. But I am choosing to publish it even though it is not exactly what I wish it to be. I am doing this as part of a new and growing writing community hosted by the lovely Kirsten Oliphant. This weeks prompt was “Song”.