Trina Machacek: A Valentine story

Trina Machacek

Trina Machacek

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In my book “Life After A Death – Navigating New Widowhood With Humor and Hope,” I tell many stories. Since this is February and Valentines are fluttering about in the cool winter air, I thought I might share this one story with you. It’s delightfully funny and oh so poignant…

There was something I had to do after my other half died in January 2018, and I found myself, well just by myself, alone. Among the hundreds of other first-time things that would come my way, I needed to go into a restaurant, a sit down and be served meal eatery, by myself. Alone.

I traveled 120 miles to the next nearest town. I didn’t want to do this event where I live. Too many distractions. I picked a place we had visited a long time ago. In those last years with his medical issues, we ate in our motel rooms or in the truck as we traveled to and from doctors.

The place I picked was a nice, regular everyday restaurant that we liked. The food was good, and it had a hometown feel. Just a regular lunch, that was what I told myself.

My heart was in my throat as I pulled open the door and stepped in. Like it was an everyday occurrence. Which of course it was, but not for me, not that day.

The kid that went to seat me grabbed two menus and asked, “How many?” I put up one finger and squeaked out “One.” He looked a little sad but escorted me to a booth. A HUGE red plastic booth that would fit at least six.

Soon my waitress appeared and asked if I would like to wait for my party. I told her it would be just me and with a quick swipe she picked up the extra silverware that encircled the table.

I thought that was a bit overkill and a titch rude. But! Yes, a single napkinned “but.” I was ready to order, and I croaked out fish and chips and iced tea and she scooted away.

As I sat there alone, I felt like every eye in the place was on me. It was such a solitary feeling. I had brought in with me a file folder of papers as I had just come from my tax accountant. (Oh my, the tax ride when someone passes away is a whole other basket of snakes!) But I used that file so, you know, well, to look like I was having a working lunch. Not to look like I was giving my alone wings their first test flight out of the nest.

As much as I wanted it to just be no big thing. It was a big thing. To sit in that HUGE booth, being swallowed up by the deafening quiet around me and seeing all the activities at every other table.

Whew it was a relief when my lunch came and was set in front of me. I started to choke down the fish and fries. Pushing it on down with a swallow of the iced tea when I noticed something.

At each and every table in the restaurant each table was full. Every table, even mine had a little bouquet of fresh daisies and greenery. At some tables there were happy couples, some tables had a couple of couples. Some tables were occupied by families with a couple and their kids all giggly and having fun. Not a sad sack in the place. Why was everyone so gosh-danged happy.

It was like it was a conspiracy to make my plight that much bigger than it needed to be. Then like a bolt of lightning, it hit me. The day I chose to make myself proclaimed stand of one-ness. Yep. Valentine’s Day! I just had to giggle. It was so surreal.

I’m here to tell you that if you ever think it can’t get any weirder for your circumstances wherever you are in life, think of me, sitting along in that big old red booth in a restaurant full of happy in-love couples and families. On Valentine’s Day. Nope, you just can’t make this stuff up.

Now I tell you that story not to feel all boo-hooey. Not at all, but just to remind you, me and the guy reading over your shoulder that life is full of surprises. Grab each and every one that comes your way. Hey, I still think I will eventually have another Valentine to enjoy life with. We all will. For some

it will be your kids or grandkids. For others it will be what it will be. That is the exciting part of life. Just live to see what will happen next. Happiest of Valentine’s Day from me to you.

Trina Machacek lives in Diamond Valley north of Eureka. Email Her books are available at


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