When Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day coincide, the wife of a church nerd knows exactly how to celebrate it. I was all set to have a hot meal waiting for DJ when he got home, so he could eat before going to the Imposition of Ashes service that evening.
Except that both Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fall in February, when I’m at my lowest emotionally and mentally. I started supper too late. When Darren came home for that short little window of time before church, the soup was ever simmering, never softening. It wasn’t ham and barley soup. It was ham and barely soup.
He said it was okay; at least I had the rolls done. He read the paper and ate a roll, while I stood over my pot of soup like a wicked witch, stirring and swearing at it. He put on his coat and kissed me, said it was okay, and would see me after church.
But it wasn’t okay. This was my way of sending him off to church with love and blessing. Because see, we have a history when it comes to DJ’s involvement in church. At one time, church felt like his wife and I was the mistress; church always got priority, and I quietly accommodated it. We’ve come a long way since then. I wanted to show him that I was glad to see him make room for this service that meant a lot to him.
Instead, I melted down in frustration and anger. Stupid soup, stupid me, stupid midwinter days of tired, gray light.
It took me about ten minutes to see through the cloud of vexation and realize that DJ hadn’t left for church. Instead, he’d taken off his coat and changed into a t-shirt, and was busy getting supper for the kids.
“Why haven’t you left?” I asked.
“Because,” he replied, “I learned a long time ago that when you’re having a hard day, it’s not good for our relationship for me to abandon you for church.”
Cue the violins, roses, tears… no wait. Just tears. I was mad at him now. I fled to the bedroom to marinate in the bitterness of the worst Valentine’s Day ever. (Note: the midwinter blues definitely flavored the sauce.) I told him why I was upset, and that he should go. Why did he have to take my frustration personally and deny himself something that he really enjoyed? It felt like further punishment.
Then I thought… why don’t I take his words at face value? He said he stayed home because it was the better thing to do. Not because I made him do it. Also, he didn’t mind the late supper. Also… well, he walked into the bedroom with a little bowl of soup and a buttered roll for me.
Later that evening, we snuggled while watching the Olympics, and I gave him the little box of expensive chocolate I’d gotten him that afternoon. It turns out that being the absolute top priority to the best man in the world is exactly what a woman needs on a gray February day.
It was the best Valentine’s Day ever.
And the soup was good, too.