mama’s last valentine’s day

mama's last valentines day

I still have regrets about that day. Flashes of it come and go in my brain, sometimes I am bombarded with these moments and I feel so, so badly for how I acted or things I said. We never got to make up from these last fights because she was soon not fully herself as the tumors took over her brain.

Logically I know that she isn’t still mad at me. As a mother myself now, I know that no matter how angry I ever feel towards my kids, I will always love them in a way that transcends it. I am their mom. I am the person they can feel comfortable enough around to yell at and feel all their feelings without judgement. I also know that 27-year-old Anna didn’t know how to express all the jumbled up complicated feelings and thoughts that clogged up her heart and mind as she watched her mother die.


But it still churns up my guts to think about this day when I was kind of a bitch about the valentines. I am pulled to a dark place and all I see is Mama’s hurt, disappointed, angry face.

valentine to myself


This comic was drawn in my journal, so there’s another comic on the back of the page showing through just a little bit.

I made this in my class tonight (I often participate in the exercises with the students). The assignment was: make a comic as a valentine to yourself in the past, at a time when you might have needed it. 

There are several past Valentine’s Days when I would have benefitted from a note from Future Anna. Sadder ones. Lonelier ones. But this one sprang to mind. I really was happy being alone that day, even though a little part of me longed for something romantic to happen. But I used to worry about how things would work out: love, career, family, all that jazz.

What I know now is that everything works out. This doesn’t mean that everything is good and tied up in a neat package with a bow. What I mean is that everything just is. It works out because it exists, I exist, I am here in my life and I am okay. No matter which paths I could have chosen, I would have ended up somewhere. Decisions are not right or wrong, they just ARE. So you pick the thing you really want to do, or be, or have. Like John Carter in E.R. when he choses to drop out of his surgery residency to pursue emergency medicine instead. He struggles with this decision, and really either path would have been fine. Either path leads to good and bad things. It’s just, which thing do you really want to do?

I long very deeply for the ability to call my mom, in a casual way, just walking around. To talk about our days, thoughts, whatever. So if I could tell my younger self to do anything, I guess it would be to call her. Even if I’d just called her five  minutes before. Call her again. Hear her laugh. Argue with her. Tell her you love her. Hear her call you that nickname that rings in your head even now, almost five years after the last time she ever said it.


valentine’s day hormones

valentines 1

valentines 2

At the end of Valentine’s Day, Greg said, “you need to make a comic about this.” So, as we lay in bed and I was too tired to draw, he sketched this story into my journal. I redrew it into this final version, but the dialogue and story idea are all his. As you can see, he’s really the funny one, and I’m so grateful he has a sense of humor about my crazy moments. Check out Greg’s other comic, Anna’s Long Con.

self-portrait with swoopy hair

self-portrait with swoopy hair In honor of Valentine’s day, this week I will be posting stuff that has to do with love. First, and most importantly: loving oneself. Thus, a self portrait.

One of my favorite Valentine’s Days was in 2004. It was the second semester of my Freshman year of college, my first year living in New York City, I was eighteen and I was single. I’ve more often been single than coupled on Valentine’s day, and I always enjoyed it. So, on February 14, 2004 I took myself to H&M and bought myself a big bling-y ring (still have it) and then took myself to the movies. It was great. I was in love with New York, in love with myself and the person I was becoming.

I can really remember the feeling of walking around that evening, in my red parka and jeans, the rhythm of Union Square, the joy I felt for my life and for being alone at that moment.