So…it’s Valentine’s Day. Card companies and flower companies and candy companies love this day for obvious reasons. People that work at places that sell cards and flowers and candy probably love it a little less, just because of the manic shopping that takes place in the days leading up to (and especially the day of) the holiday.
In general, it’s a fun day with some treats and time spent with those we love.
But it’s not that way for everybody. For some, Valentine’s Day conjures up pains or hurts that they’d rather not remember. That was certainly the case for a young Theodore Roosevelt.
On February 14, 1884, the young man who would be President suffered the most grievous of losses. It may not be the best source for this type of incident, but since I read about it in Timothy Egan’s The Big Burn, it’s the source I’m using.
“The blow of a lifetime came early, on Valentine’s Day 1884, perhaps the best-known single day of trauma in the formative period of a future president. In the morning, Teddy’s mother died of typhoid fever at the family house on Fifty-seventh Street; she was forty-six. A few hours later, the suddenly orphaned Roosevelt lost his bride in the same house, to Bright’s disease, a kidney ailment, which had been masked by her pregnancy. He scrawled a big, shaky X on a diary page and wrote a single sentence: ‘The light has gone out of my life.'”
The young man, in his mid-twenties and a budding politician, chucked it all and headed west, where friends and family and politics wouldn’t be around, and where the Badlands and open country could maybe concoct an elixir to clear the head of a man crushed by loss. It would be two years before he returned to Manhattan.
Recommended Reading: The Big Burn