Editor’s note: With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, we are reminded about the preciousness of love – and how love means something different to each one of us. We asked members of the WhipCity Wordsmiths to share their thoughts on love – and as always – their submissions are thought-provoking, eloquent, and in many cases, personal. Our series today features Iris Alderson of Westfield.
WESTFIELD-Iris Alderson was born in England 40 miles south of London, and now resides in the city.
She is a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, and an inspirational writer with more than 150 articles published in numerous magazines, including The Upper Room, The North American Voice of Fatima, Family Digest and many others.
She is a member of RWA, WhipCity Wordsmiths, and Readers and Writers in Connecticut.
Her submission is titled “Love Never Ends.”
Love Never Ends
“The quality, not the longevity,
of one’s life is what is important.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
After my husband, James, passed, I never gave much thought to Valentine’s Day until stopping at the supermarket for bread and colliding with a man coming out of the store with a bouquet of roses.
Inside the supermarket were displays of heart shaped boxes of chocolates, bright red balloons and a variety of flowers.
Never a year passed when I didn’t receive flowers or chocolates on February 14th. And then it hit me.
Valentine’s Day was one of those days such as holidays, birthdays and anniversaries we struggle to get through during the first year after a loved one has died.
Whenever I stop at the supermarket, I often purchase an inexpensive spray of flowers to brighten my desk and lift my spirits, but not that day. I had no intention or reason to buy flowers, and yet, I left the supermarket, not with the bread I went in for, but a dozen red roses, and a bright red balloon.
I drove to Pine Hill on Western Avenue. This year roses would be my gift to “J”. But my spirits were soon dashed as a blanket of snow still covered the grass. “J’s” final resting place was impossible to find, for as yet, we had no marker to make it visible.
Standing in that quiet, peaceful place on that February afternoon, I could envision the amusement in “J’s” eyes and him teasingly saying, “Didn’t you stop to think there would be snow on the ground?”
Finally, after walking back and forth I placed six roses on the snow near to where I thought was the right place. Nearby, was the head stone of a 3-year-old little boy. I left a rose and the bright red balloon.
A few steps away was the resting place of Jose Torres, the Westfield police officer who was killed almost three weeks before “J”, passed. With nightfall fast closing in, I laid a red rose on the snow for this heroic man.
I drove home and placed the remaining roses in a rose-tinted vase, the same vase “J” surprised me with, filled with flowers on our last anniversary together.
I placed them in the center of our dining room table. How tender the color of those soft, delicate petals, how delightful the fragrance that filled the air.
I could almost see “J” smile as if somehow those roses were a gift from “J” himself, and I know that even on the darkest of days—often when we least expect it, there is always something to be grateful for. I am grateful not for what I lost, but for all that I had, and—for so many years.
Now, when I visit Pine Hill with flowers, I bring two or three home and place them in that special vase and leave them on our dining room table.
Even though several years have passed, deep down I know that love never dies, but as promised in scripture, love lasts forever.
Based on a journal entry – “Through Grief to Gratitude,” February 2013