From the desk of Kendra Cassidy:
I remember my first Valentine’s Day in school.
There were seventeen of us, all five or six years old, and in the days before The Day the teacher made sure we all made enough little cards so every person in the class would get one. He showed us what to write, too. I think it was ‘Friends are special people’. Something similarly insipid, at any rate.
Anyhow, there were two people in my class who I wanted to give special notes to, Aiyana and Allen. So after I finished the cards the teacher wanted me to make I started doing two more.
I wish I had a picture of them. I don’t know what happened to Allen’s; Aiyana tells me that she kept hers, but it’s probably at her parents’ home in the Imperium. Anyways, I covered them with flowers and hearts and rainbows. I know, very cliche, but I was five! I hid them in my desk, and on the day – it was a Thursday – I added them to the pile.
With all the other kids I went around the room, putting a card on every desk, and when I got to my two special Valentines I made sure their cards were at the bottom of the stack.
I finish and go back to my desk; there’s a pile there, just like everyone else’s. Maybe it was unkind, but I flip through them all, looking for ones from Allen or Aiyana.
Allen’s was easy to find; he wrote, ‘GOOBER!’ in big letters.
Aiyana’s, though – I look and look and look, and there’s her school-approved one, and it just says what all the others say.
I tell you, my heart breaks.
Then, as I’m sitting there, miserable, she walks up behind me and wraps me in a hug. I like it, but I’m still not happy. I mean, I made her this special card, right? And I get back the one everyone gets?
I don’t say anything, though, not then. But at recess, we’re out in the playground, and she comes up to me. She says, “Why are you mad at me, Kendra?”
Well, I couldn’t deny it, so I blurted it out, all of it, in a rush which I don’t think anyone except another five-year-old could have understood.
She did, and she laughed. Now I’m mad! She’s laughing at me?
Before I can stomp off, she grabs me – she was taller, even then – and wraps me up, and says, ‘But, Kendra, you know I love you. You’re my bestest friend, and that’s forever and ever.”
“But you didn’t give me a special card!” I sniffle. “I gave you one!”
“And I love it.”
“Why didn’t you make one for me?”
And this is when I knew, KNEW, that I loved her. (Yes, I know, five years old. Sue me. I know what I know.)
She says, laughing again – and she has just the best laugh, I don’t care what you say, it’s like a symphony and joy and birds and sunshine all wrapped into one – “Because I love you, silly, and I don’t love them, but I like them and don’t want their feelings to be hurt.”
Anyways. Happy Valentine’s Day, from our home to you.
Kendra Cassidy, Admiral (ret)