The Gift to Soothe Pain on Valentine’s Day

My heart sinks into the depths of the mattress. How heavy I feel without air in my lungs. The emptiness puzzles my every thought. I trace my steps again and again in my mind, in my heart. Love and kindness abounded, and my heart weeps.

DSC_9094 (3)Where did things go so wrong?

Inching up to a sitting position, I reach for the precious book, Miss Fannie’s Hat. I’ve used it for an Instagram photo, but until this very moment, I couldn’t write barely a word. Emptiness. Loss. How can you be full of God and somehow still feel empty?

DSC_9096 (3)Tears prick my eyes, and I long for my grandmother. I long to sit on her lap, to hear her say that I’ll always be her baby no matter how big I get, to nestle my face into her chest with her arms wrapped around me, to feel the sway of the rocking chair by her precious feet, to feel her welcome without a sound the outcry of words from my heart.

“I miss Ma-Maw. I need to talk to Ma-Maw,” I told my baby girl a few days ago. “I could tell her everything.”

It’s just like yesterday, so vivid in my memory. Sitting at that bar stool, in Ma-Maw’s kitchen, I can still see her kneading the plentiful dough with her beautiful hands, spooning apple-pie filling into the folds of the soft flour mixture, and sealing the edges closed with a fork.

Can she hide the emptiness from everyone but me?

“When I feel sad,” my grandmother says, “I make food for others.” And I know that the apple pies are not meant for our time together, not for her table. They’re not meant to keep. They’re meant to give away.

Resting in a dazed state in the comfort of the mattress, I turn the softened, worn pages of the book and realize that’s exactly what Miss Fannie did. The days of her life had passed by like watching a speeding train from a window, like they do for all of us. Her hair had frayed and grayed, and all the steps she’d taken so many times before had to be taken for her. But the one thing that could never be taken away became the theme of the book, became Miss Fannie’s life story, became my Ma-Maw’s life story. So much can be taken away; so many things ease away from the clasp of our hands–people, houses, and possessions we hold dear.

But no one can take away the ability to give, to give a nod, to give a wink, to give love, to give kindness, to give forgiveness, to give a cherished possession.

I close the tender pages of the book and look heavenward, to the One who knows my heart and my emptiness. I know that this day will be absent of my grandmother, absent of others so special to my heart, and absent of a certain rightness I held so dear. But I have words and as long as my chest soars, as long as air fills these lungs to make me feel like I am floating and to breathe in me a reason to rise …

I can give.

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Are you missing a loved one today? Do you give like my grandmother did to ease the pain? I don’t know about you, but I want “giving” to be my life’s story, too. Because how can kindness be wrong? And I hope with my heart that you are given the most wonderful Valentine’s Day of all.

11 thoughts on “The Gift to Soothe Pain on Valentine’s Day

  1. What a lovely, heartachingly beautiful post, Shelli. Bless you.

    Here’s a poem, just for you, my friend. I hope you like it.

    The sound of their footfalls fade,
    and voices dwindle away.
    Oh, how I hate time’s blade!
    Is there no other way?
    Cannot the love we hold so dear
    stretch out across the miles
    and bridge that chasm of pain and fear
    with a bright rainbow of smiles?
    And God said gently, “The answer’s No,
    dear heart, for to live your Easter Morn
    you have to endure Good Friday’s blow;
    only then can love be reborn.”
    I’m sad today, and teary-eyed, and this is not surprising,
    but grace lives on the road ‘twixt Calvary and the Rising

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my, dear Shelli, your beautiful words draw tears. “Tracing steps” is something I’ve been doing a lot lately. I’m glad our Father knows the steps we’ve taken and the notes our hearts have played. I’m resting in this.
    You and your grandmother are beautiful.
    Blessings ~ Wendy Mac

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Shelli, this is such a beautiful post. Thank you for the reminder that, when we’re full of missing, of sorrow, of emptiness, we can still choose to give.

    I’m sorry you don’t have your Me-Maw on this side of heaven anymore. Those loved ones who speak so much life to our hearts are always the ones we miss the most. Sending you a prayer and hug, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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