Valentines Day Thoughts

RoseMany years ago I bought Debbie the flower pictured above for Valentines Day.  I was looking for a unique gift and thought this was perfect.  Its an actual peach rose (Debbie’s favorite flower and color) which was dipped in a special solution to preserve it.  Whereas regular flowers wilt, fade and die over time, this flower will live on as a constant reminder of my own special Valentine (Debbie). Its built to last, just like our love for each other.

I recently found a couple of neat cards Debbie gave me for wedding anniversaries.  The first  one above was for our one month anniversary on August 24, 1982.  She wrote on the back, “After one whole month I still love you.  I think I’ll stick it out with you for a few zillion more months.  Love, Debbie”.  Typical Debbie humor!

30+ Ann CardAnd this one was for our 30th wedding anniversary on July 24 2012, less than three months before our journey with cancer began.  She wrote, “Thanks for 30+ great years!  I look forward to many more filled with fun and love.  Debbie + Robert”.  Although we had only two more years physically together, the depth and quality of our love grew exponentially during that time as we learned to cherish each and every moment together.

This Valentines Day will be bittersweet.  I smile at all the great memories of past Valentines Days we enjoyed together.  But my heart aches because I miss her so much.  But I’m also extremely thankful I have that peach rose to remind me that our love will never wilt, fade or die.  And I, too, “look forward to many more filled with fun and love” – when we’re together again in heaven.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.(Rev 21:1-4)

Music To Our Ears

Wooden Frog

I recently attended a jazz concert which reminded me of the first (and only) jazz event Debbie and I attended together shortly after we were married.  After about 30 minutes of rather eclectic, avant grade-sounding tunes, Debbie leaned over and whispered in my ear, “When are they going to stop warming up”?  Translation:  Debbie was not into jazz.

But even though we didn’t share identical musical tastes, music was an important part of our marriage, especially during her illness when hymns and praise songs bolstered our faith.

God used two different musicians to encourage us at critical times during two of Debbie’s many hospitalizations at Walter Reed.  The first occurred a couple of evenings after her surgery on Dec 26, 2012 to remove her cancerous ovarian tumors.  As we hung out in her hospital room, her nurse asked if we minded if a musician came in to play his guitar.  To my surprise, Debbie said OK as I thought she was in no mood to hear a strolling “zither” (Deb’s word for guitar) player.  So in walks this rather short, portly guy with long hair down past his shoulders pushing a cart with his zither (oops – guitar) and various props.  He introduces himself and asks if we would help accompany him.  One of the props was a wooden frog similar to the one pictured above which produced a unique sound when the ridges were rubbed with the stick. As many of you know, Debbie loved to collect toy frogs so she was immediately drawn to this one.  Zither-guy proceeded to play a superb rendition of one of the Charlie Brown Christmas tunes, accompanied by Deb on the wooden frog and me on hand bells.  He played a couple more songs, thanked us for allowing him to play, and then left. Deb and I agreed that was EXACTLY what we needed at EXACTLY the right time to boost our sagging spirits.

The second scene unfolded during one of her last hospitalizations a few months before she passed away.  We had just learned that her ovarian cancer continued to spread to her lungs, which was very discouraging (albeit not surprising) news.  Again, her nurse popped in to inform us a musician was on the floor and asked if we were interested in a visit.  By this time, we welcomed any distraction.  The musician (different guy from the first story) played a very poignant song on his guitar which moved us to tears.  His song managed to tap into what we were feeling at that exact time and helped us release a myriad of emotions – fatigue, fear, disappointment, etc. We marveled at God’s timing, sending this gifted musician to sing words we needed desperately to hear at just the right time.

Music CDs

And in the final hours of Deb’s life, I played for her wonderful hymns from the CDs shown above: George Beverly Shea’s “I’d Rather Have Jesus” and “Thine is the Glory”, a collection of piano hymns by Joanna Marini. I wanted her to hear and know that God was with us, and that she would soon be with Him – healed and whole.

It’s OK Deb didn’t like jazz here on earth. I’ve got a feeling we’ll find lots of great music we both like when we’re together again in heaven.  And that’s music to our ears!

Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. (Psalm 96:1-2)