As Christmas will be this week, I can’t help but remember last year’s Christmas and, of course, the last year.  Right before he died – a day or two maybe before – we had been talking about what we each had on our List for Santa.  Kev smirked a little and said he had already gotten my gift. This was before Thanksgiving. It would not be unusual for him to be done with his shopping by then.  After he died (Nov 23), I was preparing to go to South Dakota for the funeral service and wanted to take some of his things along for his children. My sister Diane and I searched for whatever gift he might have hidden for me.  No luck.  When my daughter Renae came home from SD with me, we were setting  up a few decorations for when her family and my son and his family came back for Christmas.  She and I also looked again for a gift he might have gotten  me. I even checked his bank account for any “unusual” expenditures.  Again, no luck.  There was no gift from him under the tree last year.  So I am sure he was bluffing.

But yet, he did give me an incredible gift…and more than one really.  First, he gave me the gift of time.  I didn’t “open” that until this sabbatical, but taking 2016 for myself is something I just would not have done if he were here.  Second, because of his passing, I have come to understand grief better than ever. I have more compassion for people going through it and  other milestones I know nothing about. Third, I have started and continue to examine my own life: my priorities, my emotions, my needs, my desires. This time of reflection might have happened to some degree, but probably not now and not to the depths I am going. Finally, the memories I have of our time together are more meaningful. I am reminded daily of something we did or he said or … and I am grateful for the life we shared.

I miss him, yes, and I’d take him back in a heartbeat if I could.  I believe, though, in life after life. I know the essence of him is still  here. I am blessed to have him around me at all times now, not just when his physical body was available.  I realize that my grief is not the sum of how much I loved him or we loved each other; it is a reflection of my beliefs about life and death and love and heaven on earth.  The gift he gave me is the opportunity to know this to be true in my heart. Thank you, GM, for that. You make me want to be a better woman still. Love you, your PQ.

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