I love you puppies

For the first time in quite a while, Beth felt a tinge of excitement hovering in the background just waiting to erupt. Her thoughts replayed the sequence of events that led to this newfound encouragement. Beth had grown weary of being alone. It had been 20 years since her divorce and quite honestly, she had found no viable prospects of companionship for the future. Feeling hopeless she turned to prayer and pleaded for God to bring the right person into her life. Little did she know that God would waste little time.

This particular evening was spent attending a birthday party in honor of Beth’s ex-husband’s wife, Beverly. She enjoyed gathering with friends but was particularly interested in a new face in the crowd. This was her first time meeting Mike and he seemed like a genuinely, nice guy. They talked throughout the evening. Mike admitted to her later, the fact she had been included in the festivities, spoke highly of her character. As far as Beth was concerned, she could only laugh at God’s apparent sense of humor. Beth was elated when Mike asked her for her email address. The future looked a little brighter at the end of her pleasant evening.

Beth anxiously awaited an email from her new acquaintance. It was during this period, the country experienced a devastating blow. September 11, 2001, a day that would forever be remembered. Although distracted momentarily, she continued to wait. Worried he had changed his mind, she was relieved to finally receive a message. Mike forwarded a poem his niece had written on the heels of the 9/11 tragedy. He called her later that evening and they talked for a few hours.

It was the beginning of a beautiful, loving relationship. Beth knew God had planned for this wonderful man to come into her life. Happy as a schoolgirl experiencing her first crush, she enjoyed every moment they spent together. Years of wisdom, however, allowed her to see this relationship for what it truly was. A match made in heaven. By now, Beth knew the type of man she needed and wanted in her life and Mike surpassed her every expectation. Mike possessed a dedicated work ethic. Consequently, for most of their dates, Beth would drive herself and meet him. Having such a chivalrous and protective nature, Mike insisted on following her home every time to ensure her safety. It was the little things that she grew to love so much. . Three years later, Beth joined her new love in holy matrimony. Their respective children and grandchildren were proud to stand up for them in the wedding. Everyone was happy.

A mere three months into their new lives together, things were to change. Both became ill. Somewhat deflated, test results revealed anything but good news. Beth was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and Mike faced the daunting future of battling cancer. Rather than give in and give up, the couple chose to stand together, attack their illness and conquer the challenges they knew were to come.

In spite of the obstacles, Beth and Mike only grew closer. If it was ever possible to become even more in love, this couple achieved that. Relying on their sense of humor, they found ways to alleviate some of the more difficult moments. Whoever felt the best for any particular day, became the caregiver. Together they made the most of the time God had given them. For seven years Mike spent so much of his energy fighting the cancer. Still determined to take care of his family he worked tirelessly. In fact, he valiantly worked a full 40-hour week only five days before the cancer claimed his body. Beth never experienced such an incredible void in her life.

Finding her way through the pain and the loss, Beth found strength in the knowledge that Mike’s love was true. He would want her to keep her head up and not fall victim to her loneliness. Everywhere she looked there was something to remind her of the man she loved so much. She even found herself looking in the rear-view mirror, half expecting him to be right behind her making sure she was safe. It was a difficult transition moving forward without him but Beth was determined to make Mike proud of her.

The first time Beth felt a confirmation of Mike’s love, occurred only a few days after he passed away. Sitting in the den where her husband had spent so much time, she thoughtfully worked on writing his obituary. Suddenly, she sensed a very strong presence. Her first thought was of his sister Jane, who was also in the house at the time. Assuming Jane was behind her she began speaking. When her sister-in-law answered from the kitchen, Beth was a little taken aback. Only then did she realize it was Mike’s presence she had felt. As a smile formed on her lips, she jokingly wondered to herself if he was looking over her shoulder to check for typos! Such was the nature of their relationship. They had both relied on humor to lighten the severity of their situations. He continued to give her comfort, even now, as no one else ever could.

The day of the funeral was tearful and sad for all. Beth remained strong even though her heart was broken. She truly was not ready to let Mike go. Countless friends and family expressed their condolences and although she appreciated each and every one of them, she longed for the love only Mike could provide.

After the funeral, Beth had a conversation with Mike’s sister, Carol, on the phone. A few minutes after she hung up, a noise caught her attention. It was coming from Mike’s den. Her thoughts raced back to Valentine’s Day several years ago. Beth had purchased and given Mike a set of two small stuffed dogs. When you touched their muzzles together, they wiggled, jingled and made a kissing sound. Then they would say, “I love you.” She hadn’t heard them in years. This would only be the first of several occasions when the dogs would spontaneously start their ritual. Beth wondered if maybe she was hallucinating but each time it happened her real dog would start whining and crying. The only explanation that made sense to her was that Mike was with her. It was his way of conveying his continued presence in her life.

Over time, Beth considered moving but was afraid that Mike would no longer be able to communicate with her. Leave it to Mike though to allay her fears. While driving, completely across town, she felt an extremely strong presence in the car. The feeling was exactly the same one she felt when he was alive and sitting right next to her. That simple communication let her know that wherever she may be, Mike would always be right there making sure she was safe. Smiling and feeling completely secure in her husband’s love, Beth was thankful for the overwhelming signs he was able to provide.

Submitted by Beth R.
March 2013