I got a valentine from my dead husband


valentines day Pooh. Not a good day for a widow. Wherever you turn, you will be reminded that you are no longer someone’s valentine. And you can’t escape it. There are the people selling bouquets of flowers on the side of the road, the chewy tunes on the radio. Then there are all the places you used to go with your partner that remind you that you are alone now.

Valentine’s Day is a day I keep reminding myself that I should just spend it somewhere else. Like another planet.

My late husband, Michael, was wonderful with Valentine’s Day – never overdone; he just always did something special. And different.

One year I was working on a television production in a dingy office above a tattoo parlor in Silver Lake: Michael showed up with a single stem red dahlia on a plate in a small silver vase. As the name suggests, it was massive and beautiful – a single flower measuring 10 inches in diameter. Everyone in the office smiled. Another year it was red tulips. For a few years we just stayed at home and cooked something special. Or we went out for ice cream with our two children. Over the years I bought him books – or stupid socks.

The gift itself didn’t matter. That symbolized the gift. It was a great comfort to always have a valentine – someone to love Select as your valentine year after year. Michael was handsome and charming and incredibly friendly. We were together 21 years, married 18 when he dropped dead of a brain aneurysm in 2012.

Last February, I decided to check out the Valentine’s Day narrative. I decided to do some self pampering and redeem a gift certificate for a spa in K-Town. I had saved it for a special occasion. I write and produce films and TV and work from gig to gig. That means I’m always shaking the trees for what’s next and counting my pennies. I don’t often buy out coffee unless I’m meeting someone for possible work. And then there are those two kids I mentioned—my daughter was about to graduate from college and my son was about to enter his freshman year. So I didn’t plan a scrub or massage at the spa. The gift certificate would get me in the door for a bath and sauna and that would have to do.

Just as I was about to head out for a chilled afternoon, I got a call from a guy I met through a dating app. We had dated a few times and I already knew he would never be my future husband. He mostly talked about himself. He was in his mid-50s but still dressed like a 25-year-old rocker. He claimed to have a PhD in physics, although I couldn’t find anything he had ever published. He also owned a technology company. (When I once asked him why he didn’t list “Dr.” or “PhD” on his business card or company website, he said because people would think he was too expensive…)

We would occasionally meet up for sushi or to the movies, but I went home alone.

I told him about my spa plans and that Valentine’s Day was often difficult for me. He said he wanted to join. I thought about it. OK. It would be nice to have some company. He arrived late and met me at the spa restaurant.

We shared a few laughs, a light chat, and a lovely meal of bulgogi and a fried squid that was way too spicy for me. He had ordered several items – he even sent a dessert to the table next to us. He boasted that he had just signed a $64,000 contract that day. After our meal I thought he would accompany me to the mixed sauna but he said he had to go. That’s when I realized I was stiff with the bill. About $85. I would never go out with him again.

Even the aaaah of the bath was short-lived.

I returned home that evening feeling angry and more alone than ever.

I fell asleep and thought about Michael. I never expected him to be so difficult to follow. I just always expected him to be there, with me.

And in a way, maybe he was. Many people who have lost a loved one have stories of small moments when it feels like they received a nod, a message, a sign from the afterlife.

The most amazing example of all happened to me last summer as I was preparing to fly back to LA after settling our son into his freshman year of college. As I stood at the airport waiting to board my plane, I grabbed my wedding rings. I had it on a chain around my neck for the trip, and I whispered, “Babe, we made it. Two kids go to college.”

And as I brought the rings to my lips to kiss them, I was startled by a booming airport announcement: “Paging Michael Newman, Paging Michael Newman.”

Michael Neuman. That was my late husband’s name.

The morning after my spa debacle, I was lying in bed chronicling my day of walking the dogs, calling my kids, and doing other chores when I spotted something across the bedroom.

Many years before, Michael and I had taken some silly pictures like you see at an amusement park or at the Santa Monica Pier together in a photo booth. The photo strip was one of my favorite pictures of us together and it always made me smile when I looked at it. But somehow it had become MIA. I had looked for it everywhere. I feared it had accidentally fallen in the trash or been swept up with a newspaper and thrown away somehow.

I had been crying. Another part of us is gone.

As I walked across the room that morning, there was the image strip on a pair of my shoes. Seemingly carefully placed.

But how? Apart from my two rescue dogs, I live alone.

Even from another dimension, Michael was still a good Valentine.

This year? I trust my gut feeling.

I’d rather spend Valentine’s Day alone than with any questionable valentines.

I might even make a last minute trip out of town.

I can always take the dogs and the pictures with me.

The author lives in South Pasadena and writes and produces for TV and film. She is currently developing a historical feature film project for television. She is on Instagram @margo.newman.75

LA Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the LA area, and we want to hear your real story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email The submission guidelines can be found here. Past columns can be found here. I got a valentine from my dead husband

Russell Falcon

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