FEBRUARY 14, 2002
THURSDAY: 10:30 a.m.
A VALENTINE'S DAY LIKE NO OTHER!
Today would be a very difficult day. Our 9/11 families would be without their valentines for the first time, and Valentine Days in the past possibly would resurface. It would be a very hard day for them indeed. I had met with the volunteer team two weeks prior to discuss how we would approach the day. Everyone was going to be heavy-hearted, so I wanted our meeting to be light and whimsical. I shared with the volunteers what I had envisioned -- a "Valentine Banquet" with silver candelabras, long tables, and brunch.
During our planning, we also discussed what items we could hand out. Many of the families had mentioned plans for a trip with their children to a warmer climate for spring break. One of the volunteers suggested a great idea of a basket full of bottles to be used for "messages in a bottle." They could take the bottles on their vacations or to the Jersey Shore at another time. Kimberly Borin, guidance counselor at the Liberty Corner School, had sent us all kinds of artfully handmade journals, so creatively trimmed in pink and red with satin ribbons. We planned to place a journal at each table setting.
I imagined starting the day with pampering and love all around. I would begin with guided imagery with my old friend Paul Alexander playing a part. Not only is Paul a creative composer and singer, but he is also a resource to aid the bereaved in many ways. Through his CD "Wrap Myself in a Rainbow," Paul would spiritually move the group through a rainbow of colors with guided imagery. I believed it would be a moving, healing, and soothing way to begin the day. Then we would move down the hallway to the arts and crafts room set up by the volunteers. Tables would be supplied with paint pens of many different colors. Everyone would be given a smooth rock and asked to write a word on the rock as a valentine message to their buddy in the group. This "word" might symbolize what each buddy meant to one another. Many might write on their rock the words, Strength, Hope,
Healing, I imagined. They could decorate the rocks in different colors with flowers, etc.
Next, we would move back into our room, which was transformed into a Valentine Banquet by our volunteers and food committee. Here we would enjoy a brunch, compliments of a local restaurant. For dessert, donation of a large, heart-shaped cake would be a fitting end
to the day. Our meeting concluded.
On a peek through the glass doors of our room on Valentine's Day morning I could view pots of red tulips scattered on tables around the room. Once we were gathered together I began with the guided imagery. We then proceeded down the hall to the arts and crafts project. While we were gone the volunteers and food committee fairies created a Valentine Banquet which was a sight to behold! Long banquet tables were covered in white tablecloths, patterned with pink and red hearts along with matching napkins. Another elegant touch was the gleaming silver candelabras with red, lit candles, compliments of Ken Rent of Bernardsville, New Jersey. Candy kisses and candy hearts inscribed with words of love were scattered down the center of the tables. At each place setting was the journal tied up with pink satin ribbons, along with valentines sent from the Saint James School students. On the serving table were placed platters of delicious food prepared for us by Tre Vigne restaurant in Bernardsville, New Jersey. The brunch was scrumptious and the dessert table was generously adorned with heart shaped sugar cookies, candy kisses and to top it all off was the donation of a large, strawberry and whip cream heart-shaped cake!
For an added touch attendees left with a single red rose, a symbol of the love between them and their lost loved ones. My dreams had all come true for the day, and the volunteers had outdone themselves. Kudos to you, "The Angel Hands Group!" You were surely our Valentines of the day!!
Before we adjourned, I shared with the group that I would be out of the room the following week for a minor same-day simple medical procedure, "nothing serious to worry about," I said. I also finally told them that I was a breast cancer survivor. I was being truthful with them on the recommendation from my doctor and nurse.
As I drove out of the parking lot of the church on this day I was thinking this is a bereavement group like no other!