A pretty shitty Valentine’s day

By on Feb 12, 2018 in Blog Posts, Cancer | 9 comments

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Happier times - when we went back to the Berg as a family of four.

We didn’t think about what a rainy weekend in a sparsely decorated hut in the mountains would be like (or maybe in our romantic youth we did and didn’t care).

We never saw the mountains through the mist and the rain was the cold. The communal kitchen was being refurbished so we cooked on a camping stove in the tiny room. A gas fridge rumbled and shuddered all night and belched out alarming, eggy smells. The fridge and the stale cooking smells trapped in the thatch sorely detracted from any romance.


Shannon unceremoniously handed me a card and I opened it. I don’t remember the card itself (I hope it was a Dilbert one) but I do remember that  “will you marry me?” was scrawled inside.

“Sure!” I replied, thinking it was a “one day” sort of message.

“Then, you’d better have this,” he replied and handed me a ring box.

That was my favourite Valentine's day.

It’s nineteen years later and this year the statistics are in our favour. The divorce rate for bereaved parents is, counter-intuitively, lower than the average. That makes a nice change, eh?

Statistics aside, this will probably be our crappiest Valentines day yet. It might even top Valentine’s 2004.

We went to the Spur. Toddler-Josh cried and banged on the table incessantly. Chris had nappy-defying diarrhoea. We were home by 6:30pm and found that the cat had vomited on the duvet. We were so very tired; the best we could do was to dab at the vomit with a wet-wipe and hop in. We fell asleep murmuring that our standards had dropped. We dreamt of Chris  “sleeping through” and when he cried that night, I lay dead-still hoping Shannon would think I was still asleep.  (I did that every night and every night Shannon pretended to believe me.) 

2004 was pretty bad. But this year, I think could be worse. Shannon will be in Ghana (or Nigeria, I can’t remember the schedule) and we will be one day short of four weeks since losing our boy.

Definitely crappier than 2004.

So here is my shitty attempt at romance:

Dear Shannon, even though this Valentine's day sucks, there is no one (truly – no one) I’d prefer to have a crappy Valentine’s day with than you. 


      • Jill

        12th February 2018

        Post a Reply

        Dear Penny, I have read your posts and followed your Josh’s story. I wish you all a day filled with sunshine… refreshing rest …. and some precious time with those you love and who love you.

  1. Avanthi

    12th February 2018

    Post a Reply

    My Sweet P,
    It will be a crappy day, I know. You have lost one of your three greatest loves. However…I hope that by some telepathic miracle, you feel the adoration of those who love you so deeply and those to whom you give so much. I hope that this adoration fills some of the cracks in your broken heart. Thank you for being you. You make the world so much better for so many of us. You are deeply loved. Happy V Day for the 14th. XX

  2. Eleanor Trebicki

    13th February 2018

    Post a Reply

    Dear Penny,
    It probably will be the crappiest yet and I can’t help you there, since my husband stoically maintains it’s simply another commercial con. You have all my love and sympathy . A nice choccy pig out might just help 😉 Xxx Eleanor

  3. Janet

    13th February 2018

    Post a Reply

    I share your comment, a shitty Valentines Day, last year was our 46th and tomorrow would have been our 47th however my husband passed away last year April, with an aggressive cancer that was originally miss diagnosed. We also lost our first child when she was 17 months old.

    • Penny Castle

      15th February 2018

      Post a Reply

      I am so sorry Janet – I hope it was better than you expected. Certainly the late night news lifted my spirits 🙂

  4. Frieda Marie

    13th February 2018

    Post a Reply

    And I will think of you on this crappy day, and be with you. Not to change it or make it any less. Lean in. Its grief’s way of helping you heal.

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