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As I approach my 2nd Valentine's Day without Pete,
I find myself thinking about the beautiful concept of true love. Not Hallmark or TV show love, but real love. The love of my life was mercilessly ripped from this world and from his family 1.5 years ago by a distracted driver. Where grief has been a constant companion, some memories of love are painful, but many more are simply warm and wonderful.
Love is remembering his smile and his laugh; not a light chuckle but a hard, knee-slapping bellow that made everyone else in the room break into laughter.
Love is remembering his “go-mode” – full of ideas and a plan for making each of them work. His unending optimism in believing everything would turn out ok.
Love is remembering our prayer times together, for our children, for each other and for those we love, and spurring one another on in faith.
Love is remembering how much he believed in people. At least 4 people in the days following the accident said that Pete “saved my life” because of his persistent belief in them.
Love is holding your children on their hardest day and feeling their heart-wrenching sobs.
Love is realizing the vow “till death do us part” all of a sudden applies to you.
Love is a houseful of people there for you on the worst day of your life. And those who are still there for you.
Love is being willing to head into something terrible with a pit in your stomach and doing it anyway. Love is facing the unimaginable head-on because love is stronger than fear.
Love is having to look at your little boy in the eyes and tell him his dad, his best friend, his hero, was gone.
Love is seeing your kids hug/forgive the person who killed their Dad.
Love is looking at your kids and seeing their Dad.
Love is when your college daughter brings you chocolate and flowers for Valentines Day, and says it was only her and a bunch of older guys in the store.
Love is surrendering to the unanswered questions. It’s deciding the questions you once demanded an answer for no longer matter.
Love is feeling safe in our most vulnerable moments.
Love is wonderful memories of past Valentine's days – like when we couldn’t find a babysitter so we had to take little Josh to dinner with us and he stuck straws up his nose. Or the 32 Valentine's cards we wrote to each other over the years. Or the bracelet with pink hearts that I still wear.
Despite indescribable grief, I have been blessed to know true love and I would never change that. This is my second Valentine's Day without Pete, and even with the ache that he won’t be taking me out to dinner this weekend, my heart is full of love and warm memories, therefore our love story will not end. As I move forward with resilience, some days finding that more possible than others, God has provided strength and a gratitude that warms my heart daily. Please take a minute and thank God for the love you have in your life – whether it’s a spouse, a parent, a friend, a child. What a blessing it is to be able to appreciate and love each other. We are alive.