On my way home from a walk with Charlotte, I ran into our neighbours, who have just adopted a gorgeous, Golden Retriever puppy they named Caleb.  They had just purchased a nifty plastic container to hold doggie kibble.  Since I had just mentioned to my husband how disgusting Charlotte’s kibble smells and how much I would love to get some kind of sealed container to hold the kibble, I found this quite the happy coincidence.

Our neighbours told me they had purchased the container at Home Sense, so directly after dinner, I started to head out the door to go and pick one up.  Our daughter asked if she could tag along and I figured since it isn’t a school night, it wouldn’t be a problem.

In Home Sense we quickly found what we were looking for when I stumbled across a wonderful sign for the wall.

BE, it said, in large bold black letters.

In a smaller font size, and descending from top to bottom, it read;

kind, creative, funny, loving, loyal, honest, genuine, fearless, generous, original, brave, grateful, unique, happy

I read it to our daughter.  “What’s loyal?” she asked.  I gave her a brief example involving friends and a situation that would require loyalty.  “Good description!” said a woman walking by me, pushing a baby boy in a stroller and holding the hand of a sweet girl about the age of 5, “Those things are so hard to describe to kids…I never know what to say.”

The little girl and our daughter struck up a conversation about our new puppy Charlotte.  The woman told me that her daughter would love a dog but she didn’t feel it was a good decision for them right now.  “Well,” I said to the little girl, “You have a beautiful baby brother…we wanted another baby, but we couldn’t seem to get one…so we settled on a puppy instead.”  The woman glanced at me and said, “Don’t give up.  We never thought I’d get pregnant again after we had her…we tried and tried with no luck.  Then, four days after my husband died, I found out I was pregnant with Ryan.”

“Your husband died?” I asked, “…and you found out you were pregnant?”

“Four days after he died.” she answered.  Her tone was absolutely matter-of-fact and her face showed little emotion.  “So don’t give up…you never know what life will bring you.”

“Wow…can I give you a hug?” I tentatively asked.

I reached my arms around her but I could tell she needed the hug to be brief, so I quickly embraced her and let go.  She said, “You know…ah…my girlfriends call me and complain about their husbands…and I get it…you have to deal with life – your life – how it is…and everybody’s reality is different.  But, you know, my girlfriend calls me to complain about her husband because he won’t pick up his underwear off the god-damned floor…”

There was a long pause while she looked at the floor.  In a smaller voice, she began again, “I still have a tub downstairs filled with my husband’s dirty clothes…because I can’t bring myself to wash them…I would scatter those clothes around my house for the next twenty years if we could only have him back.”   

Her husband had woken with a terrible headache and decided to stay home from work.  A couple of hours after they said their morning goodbyes, he died of a massive aneurism.  They had arrived home later on that day to find him there.  She told me her daughter saw things the day her husband died that she should never have seen. She said her daughter’s teacher took her aside after school today to say that she wouldn’t draw on white paper.  Her daughter told the teacher she hates white, because white is the colour of the foam that she saw coming out of her Daddy’s mouth.  

“Oh God in Heaven, I have no problems.” I stood thinking,  “I am so grateful.”

I was dumbfounded at her candour and stood listening, with tears brimming in my eyes.  The tears are still brimming even now.  I told her that she was unbelievably strong.  She told me that when she finally stops crying herself to sleep every night, then she will believe that she is strong.

I thanked her for the message and the lesson within.  I told her I needed it, more than she will ever know.  She told me not to forget it; life is short – enjoy every minute because…you just never know….

Marriage isn’t easy but I absolutely know that I do sweat the small stuff far too often.  Tonight I complained for close to a half hour about housecleaning and equitable division of chores.  I know with all certainty that I would clean bathrooms for the rest of my life rather than lose my husband.  I’m not suggesting by any means that we should bow down to others and compromise ourselves, but perhaps a glance from time to time at the bigger picture?  This woman was the first to say that we need to live in our own realities, and that I can’t live her life or her loss.  But if I lost my husband, would I consider the issue of bathroom cleaning important enough to waste a half an hour talking about it?  Not a chance.

Tonight I am sending out prayers and thanks to this extraordinary woman who had the courage to give me the gift of her story.  Why this woman chose to confide in me, I will never really know.  I believe in everyday angels, and I know this lady was one of them.  I believe that this message was divinely sent and meant for me to hear tonight.

I won’t ever forget it.

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