Posted in David, grief

A Gift From the Heart

“What do you do to make yourself feel better when things get really bad?”

I waited quietly. After all, I was new to the grief support group, and the most recently widowed. Surely someone else in the room had some sage advice for the woman who’d asked the question.

No one spoke.  I hesitated briefly, then said, “Whenever I am having a really bad day, I’ve found that it helps to do something outside of myself; write a letter, send a card, do something for somebody else.”  I saw heads nodding in agreement.

I no longer hesitate when I feel prompted to do some kind deed; whether it is to give a hug or small gift, write a letter, or say “I love you.”  I can thank my mother and David for this new attitude. With David’s example post-cancer, I grew in love, and began reaching out to others in ways I had never let myself before. With my mother’s death, I grew in faith, and the love expanded. My world is so much bigger now than it was just two years ago.

This past Saturday I worked at my sister Pat’s consignment store for the first time since David’s death. My co-worker was my sister, Denise, the sister who can always make me laugh. Part of our job that day was to move the merchandise from the downstairs level to the upstairs, and then rearrange the displays. Through that process, I noticed things I hadn’t been aware of before; Like the beautiful table my sister was artfully arranging a display on.

“Oooh, I love that table,” I said, “How much is it?” I knew just where I could put it.

Denise lifted the price tag, “$250. It will be half price in a couple of weeks.”

$125 was still beyond my price range. I was very disappointed.

Later in the afternoon, I greeted a customer with a hug. This was no ordinary customer; she was my comrade in grief. Kathy had lost her husband just four months before my David died. My sister Pat had arranged for us to meet, hoping we could be a support for each other. Kathy is now my friend on Facebook and we will be working together at the shop very soon.

While I waited on a customer, I heard Denise talking to Kathy about the lovely table. “Do you like this table?” Kathy asked as I approached.

“Like it? I love it! I was lusting after it earlier…until I saw the price tag.”

“Do you want it?”

“Of course I do, but it’s too expensive.”

“You can have it.”

I thought she was joking. “Did you bring this table in?”

“Yes, and I want you to take it home.”

I was incredulous! She was offering me the beautiful table for no other reason than I wanted it?  “I couldn’t take it!” I protested.

“Why not?”

“Because it’s so valuable. Because I can’t just take it,” my protests seemed to fall on deaf ears.

She leaned forward and reached her hand out to me. “I want you to have it. I want you to take it home. I’ll be very upset if I come back and it is still here.”

I saw something in her eyes then, and was taken aback.  “I don’t know…” my voice trailed off.

“She’ll think about it,” Denise said, but I’d already made my decision. The look in Kathy’s eyes told me what I already knew;

When we hurt so bad, it helps to do something nice. Something unexpected, and outside of our own pain.

This is something I have tried to teach my daughter Elizabeth; When people want to help her family through Jacob’s cancer treatment, she needs to let them. It helps them to be able to help her.

Kathy intimately knows my pain. She lives it everyday.

I saw it in her eyes. By taking her generous gift, I could help her, too.

The table is now in my entryway. The flowers (that light up) were delivered to the funeral home, a gift from David’s siblings. I hadn’t had a good place for them before, but they look wonderful displayed on the table.

Every morning that table will be the first thing I see as I come downstairs. It will be a bright spot, a bit of joy in my life.  I will be reminded of Kathy’s kindness then, and our shared pain.

And I will pray for her.

Dear Lord, I lift my new friend, Kathy in prayer this morning. Thank you for beautiful things and beautiful people. Thank you for all your gifts this last week, including a visit from my dear friend, Mary, who took me out to lunch and bought me a jar of the dressing we’ve enjoyed on the fruit salads we have shared. Thank you for bringing my daughter Emily home safely from her mission trip. Thank you for the sister who brought Kathy and I together and the one who didn’t fail to make me laugh on Saturday. Thank you, Lord, for all my siblings and for David’s too.”

Another gift I received this week, one that might end up on my beautiful table when I find a new frame;

This drawing was also a gift from the heart; Emily drew it out of love after her father’s death. It looks more like him than the photo she drew it from did.

Author:

Author, public speaker, and workshop presenter for community colleges, libraries, women's groups and for grief support groups, Hospice and retreats. Certified grief counselor and Senior Service librarian for the James Kennedy Public library. Popular public speaker and workshop presenter on the topics of writing, couponing, utilizing your creativity in everyday life, and finding hope in grief. "Coupon Crazy: The Science, the Savings, and the Stories Behind America's Extreme Obsession" was published by Familius Publishing in 2014. "Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage" and "Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace" were released by Familius in 2014. "Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink," co-written with Mary Jedlicka Humston of Iowa City, was published in September 2015. Grief journal to be released in 2018.

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