LOVE. IS. EVERYTHING!

Hi Honey,

Today is Valentine’s Day. Remember how I used to get you and your little brother a giant Hershey’s Kiss for Valentine’s Day? Every year. Remember how Buttons found one on the floors (probably your brother’s) and ate a goodly amount of it? Oy!

Valentine’s Day and the innocence of love and hearts and chocolate was changed forever in 2011. That’s the year Valentine’s Day was replace with the day of, and then the anniversary of, your diagnosis with leukemia. It just doesn’t hold the same meaning, you know? And yet the whole of the US still sends Valentine’s every year, and chocolates, and roses, and Shari’s Berries! Don’t they know that Valentine’s Day has a bigger meaning, now? Did they miss the memo? Now it means love overflowing, but not Cupid love. It means hearts expanding, but not candy hearts. It means being loved and loving holds extra meaning! Love means everything, not just candy love and flower love and jewelry love. 

LOVE. IS. ALL. THERE. IS!! LOVE. IS. EVERYTHING!!

Today, this year, there is a new milestone. Today is the day that your love has been married longer to his new heart, than he was to you. You and he married 5 days after your diagnosis. When you gained your Angel wings, you had been married 20 months and one day. Today, he and Sarah have been married 20 months and 2 days. There are no coincidences in life, my Girl. This truth does not surprise me. I am so thankful for him and for her and for the life they are forging together. 

Your greatest struggle, during your battle with cancer, was your desire that he live a full and happy life, and to not be hurt by your battle. Really, your point was you fought to live so he would not have to experience the pain your death would bring him. You didn’t fight for you, you fought for him. You fought for your brother and your dad and for me, plus the rest of your friends and family, to protect us from pain. But mostly, you fought for him. I ran across a notebook of yours a few weeks ago, and amidst the grocery lists and medication checklists and doodles, was a request. “Mom & Dad, you have to take care of Logan if I don’t make it.” And the last thing your Dad said to you while you were still conscious, before you died, was “don’t worry, Honey, we’all take care of Logan.”

I know you know, but he did hurt when you died. He still does. But that’s OK. He only hurts because he also loves. And he found Sarah. Much like a lightening strike, they exploded into a relationship! They married 20 months and 2 days ago, and I am thankful.

I’m thankful he loved you with his whole heart. I’m thankful he has more than the capacity to love again. I’m thankful he, they, remain a part of our life. I’m thankful love doesn’t require us to be happy all the time. I honor my tears, his tears, our tears as we connect with you in spirit now, instead of in flesh.

And I’m thankful for more, on this Hallmark day of love. I’m thankful for your Dad, who loves me without reservation and with the comfort of a quick peck being enough today. I’m thankful for your little brother, the light in my heart. I’m thankful for EthelM pecan brittle arriving at his door tonight. I’m thankful that he has a new love today. He told me last week that he’d never had to plan Valentine’s Day before, because he’d never had a Valentine. 

And I’m thankful for you, Sweetheart. For your love and strength and vulnerability, for your commitment and perseverance and grace. I’m thankful you fought so hard, and I’m so very thankful you don’t have to fight ever again. I’m thankful so many things and dates and places fill my heart with you. While Valentine’s Day will never be a Hallmark day for me, ever again, it is a day that you are crisper in my mind, so I will take it.

I love you Angel Baby!

I’m thankful for today!!

Friends and dinner

Hi Sweetie,

Working this week, the first road trip of the year, I’m finding myself sliding into the complaining, in my head and out loud, that I really started to notice last fall, as I was constantly traveling and just over dealing with people. Most people don’t believe me when it comes up that I am not a people person, but I know you understand this. You, too, would get to the point of just being done with people, though I think for you it was more about needing quiet time with yourself, for me, it’s about feeling assaulted by people’s attitudes and energy and anxieties.

So I’m reigning that in and sharing the happy in my day. I got to have dinner with long time friends! Friends I haven’t seen in several years. Their little boy is 5 going on 6 and other than a quick hug at our yearly conference, I haven’t gotten to sit down and share in their life since their little guy was around 1. We had Mexican food at a place in the middle between where they live and where I am working. A 45 min trip took me about 75 min! When I got to the restaurant, she asked me if I was crazy with the traffic. My reply, not really. I’m so thankful that traffic just doesn’t really get to me. I can plan and be diligent, and then, it’s not up to me! Can’t change it, can’t fight it, so I don’t. And I’m so grateful for that! These friends have work in common, though not in the way they did when I first was getting to know them. It’s fun to hear how his business is growing and how the crazy woman started teaching high school math. What the…?!?! Brave woman! Not me!! It was fun to get to see them interact with their little boy; tender and clear and timely and truthful and consistent and…just sweet.

This dear woman and I have a deep connection. As we would meet on the road, years ago, her doing her work, me doing mine, we did our best to sit down for a few minutes and catch up. We shared deep things with each other. Sometimes it’s almost easier to share with a compassionate heart that doesn’t reside in your day to day world. That’s the relationship she and I have. She always asks me about you. Her question today, “How did Jen show up for you today?” What a PERFECT question! She must not have seen the gorgeous sunset as I entered the restaurant, or she wouldn’t have needed to ask that question! She always asks about your little brother, too, and celebrates with me, as I love my kids out loud. Thank you, Sweet Friend, companion of my heart. She shared with me how she is missing her Dad. He was a safe place for her, as she was an adult. A consistent encourager to her and someone who always had time for her, always had space for her, someone she could receive from. As a fellow giver, I connect with that. Needing someone to receive from; receive encouragement, receive space, receive forgiveness, receive a hug in the form of words, receive lack of demand, receive grace. I hope she has that again, if even for a moment. I would be that for her, in time of need, as I know she would be that for me.

Today, I am thankful for safe travels in bumper to bumper traffic, Shipley’s Donuts, chips and queso. I’m thankful for friends who are easy, and who go out of their way to connect with me. Such a gift. I’m thankful for someone who cares enough to ask how you are in my day, today. I HAVE to remember that question. It’s appropriate for so many people so many times! I’m thankful for the weird end of day congregations of mockingbirds in Houston. Randomly (to me, probably not actually randomly), at close of day, giant flocks of these birds gather together to commune before calling it a night. I have no idea why they do it, why they choose to congregate where they do, or what is really going on in their heads, but it’s interesting to me, that they do congregate. And interesting is happy making, for me. Oh, and they’re a little bit creepy in these giant flocks, which also peaks my interest!!

As I mark the 1/2 way point of this work week, I’m thankful that today, I was reminded to be thankful.

I am thankful for today!!