I wake up today to sunlight on the red tulips beside my bed. “Good morning,” I say to them. “Happy Valentine’s Day.” Then I sing happy Valentine’s Day to myself to the tune of the happy birthday song. I like this silly start to the day, lie grinning in the sunny room, the mountains spread before me. I began buying flowers for myself when Sable died. I needed that life here in the room with me. But these are the first tulips I’ve had since his black furry form left this world. Did you know cut tulips keep growing in the vase? I think they may be the only ones who do. I like that about them. And I love how sturdy they are, how upright. I love watching them open and close in the course of a day. Right after Sable died, I wanted a reading, found Rhonda at the crystal store. She told me there was nothing I could have done, eased a weight inside me. “Do you have a plan?” she asked me. A plan? I babbled something I can’t remember now, about how I might try to take care of myself without him here. Maybe about how I wanted to honor the death of both my furred ones by remaining pet free for this next stretch of my life, knowing as I do how it may bring things best served by this. She didn’t even blink, just listened. But then she said something that made me realize she didn’t ask me if I had a plan. She asked me if I had a plant. Ha! It made me laugh. I was touched, too, by her kindness in not correcting me. And I do have a plant, it turns out. I have a small cactus Mami gave me a year ago last Christmas. Right after Boo died, I found tiny red buds all over it. It felt like a message, like a gift. Now it’s in bloom, big deep pink blossoms like exotic birds, my Christmas cactus valentine. I heard the mockingbirds last Wednesday for the first time and wondered if they might be practicing their love songs for the big day. One is singing now as I write, his clear liquid notes drifting through the kitchen window, valentine serenade. May we all be touched by sweetness, today and always.