Valentine’s Day, 2009, was ten days before Lisa died. Although it’s been five years, cupid brings back vivid, vivid memories.
In many ways, it is my hardest grief day of the year. The reminder that it is coming is blasted everywhere I turn: on TV, in the grocery store, billboards – even Jiffy Lube has an oil change coupon special for your sweetheart!
The last dinner my girls and I ate with Lisa was on Valentine's Day. Of course we didn’t know that would be the case, but deep down, maybe we had a hunch.
It was an odd evening. Lisa and I were trying so hard to be happy for three excited kids.
Yeah, yeah, it’s Valentine’s Day! Candy, candy! Love in the air. Ignore the fact that your beloved mother in the seat beside you is hooked up to a morphine drip and dying from cancer.
As difficult as it is to face this annual reminder, February 14, 2009, ended up bringing me the greatest gift I ever received. It gave me what I needed to take the steps to put my life back together.
It was this day that prompted Lisa to write me a note. Although I knew my wife loved me, she was not one to gush. But this note encapsulated her feelings about me. The last sentence she wrote was:
You are the husband, father, soul mate and friend that I want – never been another. I love you very much. Lisa
If I died tomorrow, I wonder if the people around me would know how I feel about them.
I have a buddy, Steve, who occasionally texts with the message, “I love you.” When I see him, he says the same.
Another dear friend, Brad, and I hug and share the same sentiment. His wife occasionally rolls her eyes at our mushiness.
I pick on people who mean a lot to me – just ask those in the offices next to mine at the YMCA. Do my co-workers understand how much they mean to me? I spend more time with them than any other friends and often more time than I spend with my family. Do those at church know how much I look forward to seeing them each week? Can the girls see my love through the nagging?
I’d like there to be no question in the minds of those who mean the most to me.
I’m not sure why it is sometimes so hard to express love. It makes us squirmy and uncomfortable. I’ve been the recipient of unfettered expression. Lisa and I were given that chance. Had she died in an automobile accident, that would not have been the case.
I have lived the past five years with a lack of guilt or regret about my relationship with my wife. She let me know I was what she needed. And yet, at times I still struggle with sharing how much I appreciate and care for others. If it is tough for me, I imagine it might be even harder for those who have not experienced the joy of knowing that someone you loved so much loved you so much in return.