I took a walk in the woods by myself today. It’s a beautiful, mild February day in Central Alabama. No clouds in the sky, a soft breeze blowing, and sunshine…the perfect walk in the woods kind of day!
We used to take walks like this almost every afternoon. This morning when I opened up Facebook, I was reminded that two years ago I took this same walk with my family of four. Only, two years ago it was snowing. As I looked at the pictures I had taken that day, the sadness hit me like a rock. It’s weird how I can remember exact conversations and emotions so clearly from that day. We had laughed and played in the snow for a couple of hours before dark.
The snow was thick and wet. It fell in huge clumps and covered everything around us in less than an hour. Greg had helped the girls build a small little snowman in the front yard and I had cooked chili with cornbread for supper. That day was just a normal day except for the snow.
Today as I walked on the same path we walked on together two years ago, I looked around and sighed. I miss walking through these woods with my husband. I miss his crazy antics and his voice. I stood still beside the pond and I listened for his voice. I could hear him so clearly in my mind…and the waves of wanting him here crashed against me like a hurricane. I stood in the exact spot he was standing in the next picture…and just let them hit me one by one.
As I stood there where he had stood two years ago… on that bridge I forced myself to open my eyes and look…really look all around me. That’s when I saw it!
I walked off of the bridge to my left and up the hill a few steps. Hidden in the trees I saw it for the first time since Greg had died: Our hammock. The one we bought on our honeymoon in Cancun.
I fought through the briers and underbrush to get to it. The poor thing looked pitiful and nothing like it did when we found it that day so long ago. I had my camera, so I started taking pictures of it. The hammock itself is in terrible shape, but as I let me lens scan different angles I noticed something that made my heart stop. The hammock was tied between two trees by two pieces of rope. The rope had two perfect knots on the outside of the trees and the part wrapped around the trees had begun to be covered up by the expanding tree trunk. Greg had tied it up there in 2003 or 2004. I’m not sure which one for certain.
There used to be a tree close to this spot with our initials carved into it…sadly it got cut down when they built the pond. We never got around to carving our initials into another one. We did carve them into other trees in different places over the years, but not on our land. Oh well…nothing I can do about that now, but the two ropes that are growing into the trees by the pond will always stand as a reminder of what we had.
I know it seems so simple…but I was reminded today how much the little, everyday details matter. It matters that Greg took the time to hang this hammock all those years ago. It matters that I saw it on my walk today. It matters that I noticed the knots that he tied in the rope. It matters that I miss him more every single day. All of it matters to me and I am grateful for the opportunity to realize just how important these things are for a lifetime.
We cherished the everyday stuff. We enjoyed playing in the snow…and walking outside…and loving each other. We made an effort to spend as much time together as we could and I am so very thankful that we were intentional about it.
This year, I am skipping the whole Valentine’s day stuff. My heart can’t handle it. Last year, we made a big deal about it at church. Greg helped me decorate and set things up that Sunday afternoon.
He also spoiled me with a cute outfit from Sassy Lass….and a great card that I will cherish forever. We didn’t always make a big deal out of holidays…but last year he made a big deal out of Valentine’s Day. I’m happy for those memories, but I can’t take celebrating it this year without him. I just can’t. I am trying so hard to live life, but its times like these that brings me to my knees.
Today, God showed me that Greg left me all kinds of gifts scattered around our land. I just have to slow down and look for them. I can do that! I may not be able to participate in all of the Valentine’s Day events that are going on this year…but I can cry through the memories that we have from the past seventeen Valentines’ Days and remember how much I was loved. That’s more than some people ever get and I will never take it for granted. I still miss him though…I honestly don’t think any amount of time will ever ease that hurt.
I don’t beg often, but I am going to beg all of you who still have your spouses to be intentional about how you show them that you love them this year. If you are fortunate enough to still have a marriage…give it all you’ve got! Put aside your differences and look for the person you fell in love with in the beginning. Remind yourself why you married him or her. Give yourself permission to let go of anger and hostility. Do something romantic and make a new memory that will last for many years to come. Life does not have to be dull, boring, or lonely if you are married. It is supposed to be fun, surprising, and memorable. If it’s not…change what you are doing! We had to change what we were doing around year seven…and thank goodness we did! I never would have dreamed that I would cherish the memories we made as much as I do today.
Choose love…choose happiness…choose your spouse. It’s worth it!
Happy Valentine’s Day!