In our 10 years together, Andrew and I never really celebrated Valentine’s day. We weren’t the type to splurge on a fancy restaurant or spoil each other with expensive gifts. I remember one year in an attempt to make the holiday special Andrew called Disneyland the day before Valentine’s day to reserve a table for two at the Blue Bayou, the coveted restaurant inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, the hostess had a good laugh as she told him Valentine’s day had been completely booked since last October, I loved him so much for trying!
To be honest we really didn’t need a fancy dinner at Disneyland, a dozen red roses, or a giant teddy bear to say, “I love you.” Our love leaked in small ways every single day: a kiss goodbye in the morning, a cozy blanket and a cuddle on the couch at night, a thoughtful text in the middle of the day, and a random love note on a Tuesday. I melted over random love notes, they meant so much to me. There is one random love note I will never forget, the last one.
The Saturday before Andrew died, I left the house in a hurry, when I came home Drew had already left for work, but a love note was waiting for me on the kitchen counter. He went out of his way to say I love you and I am so thankful he did. He could have never imagined it would be the last love note he would write. It was short and sweet, but it completely made my day, he signed it, “xoxo Drew.” Some nights I curl up on my bed and hold it close to my heart. I close my eyes and imagine him sitting at his desk thoughtfully writing every single word. A soft genuine smile spread across his handsome face knowing this simple act of kindness would mean the world to me.
It has been 173 days since I have felt the warmth of Andrew’s love, I miss every ounce of it. He was the first and only man I truly deeply loved. Andrew taught me love doesn’t need a holiday, love shows up every single day.
Love is having an actual conversation with the guy bagging the groceries.
Love is holding the door for the mom with the stroller.
Love is stopping for ice cream on the way home from school just because.
Love is waving hello even if they never wave back.
Love is volunteering to coach the team when you don’t know how to play.
Love is texting “I’m thinking of you” to a friend.
Love is slowing down to let them over on the freeway.
Love is dropping off Chick fil A on the porch when their little ones are sick.
This is the kind of love that makes Jesus smile. It isn’t fancy or complicated. It doesn’t need an invitation or a holiday. Love simply shows up, every single day.
My brokenness has awakened me to God’s love all over again. His loud love has reached through the shattered fragments that surround me and transformed the way I see everything. The sunsets have more color, a rainbow holds more wonder, the things here and now, the everyday grind isn’t as heavy as it was before. The little things have grown smaller, the things that matter have grown larger, and my heart in repair, beats a little slower, taking it all in. The here and now today, the loss of yesterday, the pain that will come tomorrow, isn’t forever, it’s only temporary.
As I stand outside today in the thick snow at my grandparents’ beautiful home deep in the woods of Idaho memories of a dozen childhood summers roll through my mind. Three old trees where a treehouse once nestled high above the ground, old stone rocks with small handprints engraved years ago, a driveway where adventures took off and imagination ran wild. This place feels like home. I can breathe deep here, I feel safe here, there are roots here and memories tied tightly to my heart. I stop and listen to the wind, the snow falling from the trees, the sweet melody of the woods singing to me, reminding me just as the snow melts away, the bitter cold of this season will melt away too. The sharp icicles that threaten to pierce my heart completely will fall and shatter on the ground. The winter will turn to spring, then summer for a while, although fall and winter will draw near again, He will give me new strength to walk over the hills and through valleys on the road to a place where peace reigns forever. His love gently lighting the way ahead,
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” Isaiah 30:21
In it together one day at a time,