I want to start this Topic with two stories about things that happened to me along the way. One happened in the first month of my bereavement and the other just a few months ago. The first was a defining moment that changed how my grief journey progressed and in many ways created the path my grieving and my healing took from that point forward.
The second happened last month, three and three quarter years into my bereavement, when it was finally time to go through the house and clean out file cabinets, move or pack away clothing and adjust our physical space to reflect my living there by myself now.
Both stories reflect messages of hope and healing and I want to share them with you first to set the stage for where I want to go in this Topic.
Story of the Love Flower:
For what turned out to be our last Valentines day together, I bought my wife a flowering plant with the glittery word LOVE written on a stick placed in the pot. As with most flowering plants, once the first blooms faded, it just became another leaf plant and while it stayed healthy and grew new leaves from time to time, it didn’t flower again.
After Andi passed in April of that year, our wedding anniversary came three weeks later and I was, as you might imagine, not doing very well. Without my noticing, the “love” plant had been quietly growing and on the very day of our anniversary, it opened a new bright red flower. It was surely a gift from Andi, a flower to say I love you and to make my day a bit easier. I took it then as a communication, a way of her letting me know she was ok, and that our love was still strong. I took that thought and held it close and it became the basis of many things I began to see and experience that were outside the normal but that I began to see were ways Andi was letting me know she was still with me in spirit and still part of my life. And during the first year, from that point on, every month, on the day of Andi’s passing, a new flower opened!
There is a new chapter in this story that just happened. We had just passed the four year mark at the end of April this year and so another wedding anniversary day was approaching. Once again, a flower opened on the “love plant” and was there, bright and beautiful in the morning when I got up on our anniversary day. Love across the veil as I like to say…
Story of the Always Print:
The second story happened a month or two ago, I had begun to clean out file cabinets, getting rid of old papers that were no longer needed and I came across a file folder with a large number of picture in it. These were mainly 8×10 prints of photos I had taken and many of them had words on them that Andi had written; of thoughts, feelings and expressions of our love and I had added her words to the images and then printed them. And then they got put in a file and mostly forgotten during the last year or so of her illness.
Sorting the files came at a difficult time for me, as I mentioned at the start of the post, it was during the first time I had really gone through things from our life and began to sort and change and remove what was no longer needed. As I was going through the photos, some brought tears as I remembered where we were when we took the photos and also from the feelings generated when I read her words. But then I came upon one I didn’t remember doing. I remembered the picture, but didn’t remember putting it into the framework it was in and I definitely didn’t remember the words Andi had written to go with the image.
But there, below the picture, set there for me were the words “With you in Spirit, Always”. There it was, a message, a gift, and a very clear and understandable statement of something she knew way before I did, and something left for me to find as we were approaching the four year mark and I needed reassurance and strength yet again to go forward, to continue to live and grow and to understand that love does go on forever, it just takes different forms and requires different ways of communicating.
And I have to add now that it got even more amazing as I was searching my photo files for a copy of that image to include in this blog post. I couldn’t find it! I searched all the possible places I would have put it and all the other folders of images I could think of and it plain wasn’t there. So, at that point I stopped looking, realizing I had no part in it at all and just said thank you to my sweet wife for sending me something so special, in such a special way and for having it there waiting for me on a day when I needed to see it. The image I eventually used in this post is a reproduction I made of the original.