“It’s the little things that count the most.” We have all heard and probably said this phrase many times, but the past year has really made a believer out of me. As Valentine’s Day approaches, another first without Mike, I am reminded of our past Valentine’s Days. I always gave him a card and you can know that I read many cards before I found just the perfect one. Sometimes they were funny and sometimes they were serious, just according to the mood I was in at the time.
Mike, on the other hand, always gave me a gift. Sometimes he would include a card and sometimes he would not. Most of the time, he gave me a box of chocolates, you know the kind with the different flavored stuff in the middle. The kind that most people do not like, but he knew I loved those things. I could eat the whole box in one day. However, there were lots of years, when I would be dieting, imagine that, and I would tell him to please not buy me candy. So on those occasions, he would buy me something crazy. One year it was a big stuffed frog holding a big red heart that said, “I love you.” Another time it was a dancing gorilla singing some goofy song. On another occasion, it was a bouquet of dancing and singing flowers. He would usually bring the gifts to me in my classroom and so my students would enjoy them as much as I did. You know they love to push buttons.
This year, there won’t be a card or a crazy gift and that’s okay because I know that he loved me and I know I was his Valentine. And I also have these wonderful memories from the 38 years he was with me. I have every card or gift that he has ever given me and I will pull them out and read them on Valentine’s Day. And I must confess, last week I was in Wal-mart and as I approached the Valentine’s aisle, I started walking really fast so I would not have to see those cute little crazy gifts. But then something stopped me and I turned and went back. I slowly walked down the aisles trying to decide which one of those silly things Mike would buy me if he was here. And it actually brought a smile to my face. Thanks for the memories, Mike. I love and miss you!
For the past couple of months, I have been attending GriefShare meetings every Thursday afternoon. GriefShare is a thirteen-week grief recovery support group sponsored by Many 1stBaptist Church. Each week focuses on a different aspect of grief. Last week’s topic was “When Your Spouse Dies.” I knew what the topic was so I decided that I would skip the meeting. I felt like it would just be too painful. I knew that I would probably cry and I just didn’t want to feel the pain. Now does that make any sense? I attend all the meetings except the one that I probably need the most. But that is what I did. I came up with a good excuse not to go and I even called and told them that I would not be able to make it. My excuse was that RyLeigh was playing her last Jr. High softball game and I needed to watch her play. And that really was a good excuse. I had not seen any of her games because of these meetings and I don’t usually miss her games.
So anyway, this Thursday I went for the next meeting feeling all content and ready to watch the video “Your Family and Grief.” I could handle this. Much to my surprise, they had not covered Session Four, “When Your Spouse Dies,” the week before as planned. Another need had arisen and they had ministered to it rather than following the normal procedures. My heart sank. I did not want to do this but how could I just get up and walk out. So I stayed. And I watched and listened to the video. And yes I cried. But I have to admit, it was good for me. There’s just something about hearing other people discuss some of the exact same thoughts that I have been having. It helps me realize that I am not really going crazy; that instead I am just experiencing grief as everyone else does that has lost a spouse. It also gives me hope that I will one day be able to cope with the loss of Mike; hope that one day I will find a new normal.
At the conclusion of the meeting, I confessed to the group what I had done. And of course, they laughed when I said, “God did it again. He knew what I needed more than I did.”
As I have thought about this today, I am reminded of Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. I find great comfort in this verse and although I don’t know God’s plan and right now I don’t even really like God’s plan, I do know that there is hope. God knows what he is doing and he will see me through this time of grief.