Do you remember booking that weekend away for Valentine’s in the Drakensberg, Shannon? 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 mind).

We never saw the mountains through the mist. 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.

You 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,” you replied and handed me a ring box.

Best Valentine’s ever.

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. Do you remember?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 longed for Chris to “sleep through” and when he cried that night, I lay dead-still hoping you’d think I was still asleep.  I did that every night and you had the grace to pretend you didn’t know.

2004 was pretty bad.

But this year, I think could be worse. You’ll 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:

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.