Feb 14, 2012 was my beloved husband’s last day at home. He was in the cancer unit most of January, all but a few days in February, and the entire month of March leading up to his demise. That morning, as I walked into his office and saw him stooped over in pain, my concern took over as I said, “You are not supposed to be working, come lie down and I’ll rub your back.” His gallant, re-direct reply, “I am not working; but, I have something important to do-I’ll be done in a few minutes.” I started to anxiously question him; however, my youngest needed my attention with her Valentine cards. Two hours later, he was vomiting blood and we headed back to the hospital.

One evening during the inferno of my grief, as I was yet again crying out for my husband since his arrival in heaven, a sacred, forceful phenomenon guided me to his computer. I noticed his iTunes account that I had never opened. I clicked on it and a file popped up that was labeled, “Lisa, Open…it’s our endless love!” It was a love message and a chronological playlist of 20 songs that had been “our songs”- from the first blessed moment that God allowed him to grace my life until our final, favorite, melodic dance. The file was dated Feb 14th, Valentine’s Day, his last day at home!

I have always been captivated by Valentines’ Day. Even as young as three years old, I can recall seeing my mother flip over the calendar to February and with a flutter in my soul, I anxiously counted down the days. On my 5th Valentine’s Day, during Sunday School, I gave my heart to Christ. From that day forward, the engaging, cemented words from my Sunday School teacher became ingrained as my lifetime goal, “God, here is my heart, love people with it!” Yes, I have enjoyed all the romantic hoopla and commercial festivities of Valentine’s Day; but, to me it runs deeper. It is the culmination of our Savior’s unrelenting love and the commitment of agape, unceasing love for each other. What childhood V-Day memories do you cherish? What does Valentine’s Day mean to you right now?

As I reminisced about previous V-Day’s, I realized not a Valentine’s Day ever passed as a wife/mother that I wasn’t busy organizing a party for my daughters, planning an “All Saint’s Day” Celebration for my children’s choir and Sunday School students, or running a fundraiser/ committee gathering for our local school or church. In addition, I would spend hours creating DIY Valentines embellished with affirmations of why I loved, admired, and appreciated others. Nevertheless, nothing compared to our V-Day family time; the simple, glorious, home-spun delights and activities that made my girls happy and nurtured our marriage. Furthermore, I was enthralled by the random acts of love that my husband bestowed on me, for instance: staying up all night to help me frost 100 cupcakes and put together goody bags, waking up to a trail of love post-its, finding out that he filled my gas tank up, going miles out of his way to save a parking space for me during the school V-Day party, as he knew I was running late and that the parking lot can be a nightmare, or slow dancing in a dark room…etc. What treasured Valentines memories do you hold in reverence of your beloved?

Well, the day came, the dreaded day, the first Valentine’s Day without my husband. Despite all my former feelings of being charmed with Valentine’s Day, I now felt out of sync with the world, unloved, like a castaway. I desperately wanted back in the homeland of David’s arms. I plummeted into the trenches of despair. I hadn’t planned a party, I gave up all my volunteer work, and I didn’t make a single Valentines card. I struggled to even get out of bed to implement my youngest daughter’s autism program with the focus on a Valentines theme.

I glanced over at my Bible and instantly, in my harrowed state, wanted to nudge it away. On the other hand, I could tell something was speaking out to me. As I poured over the pages, my eyes continued to wander back to Romans 8:38-39. These verses captured my thoughts as it reiterated God’s unwavering pursuit of us, even to the point of Him becoming a human. His relentless love is unlimited, unshakable, complete and given equally without merit or measure.

This promise of grace allowed my spirit to dare to reach out again. It bolstered my belief that through God’s orchestration that David’s abiding love is surrounding me and that he is urging me ahead. I viewed Valentine’s Day as a loss. My sorrow had blinded me and blocked out the sweetness that still prevailed. I am challenging myself this week to rekindle my old, mesmerizing feelings about Valentine’s Day.

Dear Heavenly Father, You know my emotions are running rampant. Valentine’s Day triggers a spectrum of grief. You know how much I loved and adored my husband. My ache is constant, my yearning is unbearable. Please help me, strengthen me, and open me up to your sustaining love that knows no boundaries, depths or heights. Thank you for your relentless love, allow it to cling to me, echo through my being, and radiate to others.  Amen

As always, please feel free to comment and or share. From my heart to yours…Happy Valentine’s Day and please remember that you are relentlessly loved!

Lisa Dempsey Bargewell

My blog topic for next Wednesday: Facing Illness Without My Husband