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!!

Starting the conversation…

Jen,

We used to talk every day, sometimes we talked multiple times a day. Now, we can’t talk. Well, you can’t talk. Angels don’t talk. You communicate, at least I feel like you do, but you can’t talk. And I’m not much on monologues. But I’ve discovered something. It’s taken me 4 years of not hearing your voice to figure it out. I can still talk to you.
People ask me, often, though not as often as during the few months after you died, if I talked to you. Mostly people assume that I did, that I do. But truthfully, I think, feel, say “Hi Jenny!!” often, but that’s mostly it. When I think of you, which is frequently and fervently, I think if you in stills, in series shots in my minds eye. Mostly from those months you were sick, the weeks just before you died, the day you died. But I’ve discovered how limiting that has become. It limits me, and it limits my experience of you.
During your battle with leukemia, I wrote, through Caringbridge, a chronical of your experience. After the first couple of days, I ended nearly every post with “We are thankful for today!!” I did that on purpose. For you, for me, for all who followed your journey. It was my way of finding the hope in the day. It was my way of reminding all of us that the details of the here and now are not the whole story. That miracles happen every day. Sometimes, it’s the people placed in our path, sometimes the thought of the moment, the wash of the heart, the gift for the eye, the ear. Fleeting, but uplifting. The smell of rain, competent hands, puppy snuggles, grilled cheese and no bake cookies, a parking space right up front, the first snow, a goose farm.
As time has marched, day by day, farther away from you, though your Dad thinks of it as each day closer to you (someday, I hope to think if it that way, too!) I find it harder to be thankful for today. That is contrary to my nature! I’ve always been able to see the small miracles and be thankful. But…
So, I am taking that bull by the horns. I don’t want to forget how to be thankful. I want the beautiful idea that you have pink angel wings to be a starting point for noticing beauty and laughter and the good things in a day to day life. And I want to learn to talk to you again. To share life with you, even if it feels a bit like a monologue. So, I begin…
I am thankful for today!!