Day 14 —Elvis still gets 100 Valentines each year. Tell about one of the people who sent one.
Esmeralda licked the envelope flap before sealing her card within it. There is a moment of regret that she flicks aside as she puckers her lips and kisses along the sealed flap. Her focus of this gift is Elvis, the king. She knows that he is dead and yet she sends a Valentines card every year without fail. She even sends it ahead of the date so that it will arrive on or before the 14th of February. Each year she spends hours selecting her favourite expression of love, if there is more than one she puts the spare in a special box to consider for next years mailings.
It never used to be this way. The build up to Valentines was romantic in itself. Lawrence would ask her what she thought of roses, lingerie or chocolates. The first year it was charming, a little obvious but charming. The second year it was kind of odd, did he not remember what she told him last year. The third year it was annoying and she began to wonder if he was the one. Did he not care enough to actually remember what she said? Why ask if you were not going to retain it? Could he not make notes if his memory was that bad?
The fourth year and Lawrence was gone. He had taken a turn on a mountainous road too fast and flew off the road and a long, long, long way down. There was very little left of Lawrence and the car. When his effects were given to me they included a CD of Elvis. I didn’t even know he liked Elvis, he never mentioned it and I never heard him play any of his music. It seemed a little odd to me but it also made me realise that I barely knew Lawrence. While he seemed to repetitively ask me the same question, I hadn’t really asked any questions.
When I was closing up Lawrence’s flat I found a box filled with sealed envelopes. There was no address on them. Just a single name – Elvis. I took the box back to my flat and considered my options. I wasn’t sure I wanted to open the envelopes but then it felt wrong to just throw them away or even to just store them unopened. In many ways these envelopes were the final communication I would have with Lawrence.
I sat beside my fire and slowly opened the first envelope. It was a valentines card. I recognised Lawrence’s sprawling script. There was a brief note:
And the memories your name gives me.
I had no idea what it meant. There was no date, no clues to who the other Elvis might be and what they were to Lawrence. I opened the tenth envelope and read the note:
Another year and this is all that is left for me.
All of the notes left me confused. None of them gave me the answer I sought but together they showed me a love that Lawrence had felt and that he had shared in these Valentine cards. They sadly never got mailed to the Elvis they should. It seemed that the famous Elvis embodied the Elvis that Lawrence was missing. But how and why was something I would have to accept that I would never know. That story died with Lawrence.
I was sad at the end of the evening and under the influence of a bottle of wine. When I woke I had made my decision. I would mail the cards one at a time on Valentine’s day to singer Elvis, even though he was dead. What the person receiving them did with them was out of my hands. It felt right, even though I would never know the Elvis that the singing Elvis reminded Lawrence of, it felt like I respected what he had began.
At the end of ten years, all of Lawrence’s cards had been sent. There was never a receipt of them having been received but that was never my goal and I am not sure it would have been Lawrence’s. As the eleventh year approached I felt such loss. Like I had lost the potential of Lawrence all over again. So I bought a Valentine’s card with my sentiment:
In memory of Lawrence
I mailed it to Elvis and I continue to do so. My note never changed, just the card that it was written in did. I will never know why Lawrence wrote his cards and then put them in a book but my mailing first them and then my own to an Elvis I had an address for, just seemed right.