The tension was on. Results were critical. The decorated shoebox was in place, corner-squared on my desktop. Its slotted lid was a gaping mouth- begging, begging for food.
I was in the sixth grade, Valentine’s Day, 1968.
I’d separated six sheets of Valentines, carefully scoring each punctured piece to pull out the cards: an elephant with a heart, a bear with a heart, a kitten with a heart: “Have a purrrfect Valentine’s Day.”
These cards were of no consequence on this special day, however. They would be distributed haphazardly into the Valentine boxes of other girls and boys, all equal in love.
I’d heard the rumors. They were whispered behind chubby hands into dirty ears attached to cherubic faces who nodded knowingly.
“Dennis LIKES you!” Debbie told me in a wise whisper. Oh, my gosh! REALLY?
Since I was short, I slid easily into the Valentine crowd and edged my way down the desk row. I hid behind a tall patrol boy and shoved the note into Dennis’ box. I was back at my desk in a flash.
Classroom Moms had brought cupcakes and koolaide, which we all devoured in wild abandon. (Mind you, this was back in the day when you could eat such things without consequence.)
Then we played “Pass the Heart,” cupping our hands to receive the prize. We put on our best poker faces so as not to betray our possession of the jewel.
Who held the heart? I guessed wrong every time because I was dying to open my Valentine box.
When the bell finally rang, I lifted the lid. There, atop the glittered hearts lay…THE NOTE. Fold after fold, I unwrapped it. I closed my eyes and opened the final fold:
My life was changed forever.
I know God loves this short girl…and that’s enough. I’m so very grateful.
I have loved you with an everlasting love. – Jeremiah 31:3