Thirteen or more years ago on a cold January afternoon, a trip to the grocery store changed my life.
The pressure of juggling the schedules of four teenagers was pressing in on my last nerve. Truth be told, something was always pressing on my last nerve. That day I still needed to grocery shop and do a mountain of laundry.
I left the kids at home and headed to the grocery store.
Inside the store, I pushed the cart up and down the isles trying not to mow down the huge display of spam. Who eats spam any more? How old is that stuff anyway? My mind was racing with nonsense when my buggy nearly hit the back of his heel.
I gasped and the gray haired man turned around.
“Hello, neighbor” he grinned.
Standing there, in a dark blue suit, crisp white shirt and a shinny red tie my neighbor Robert, looked completely put together.
“And how are you this fine day Robin?” He sounded surprisingly chipper for a man who’d just six months before lost his wife of thirty years.
“I’m okay Robert, how are you doing?” My voice dripped with pity. “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you” he said looking down and stuffing his hands in his pants pockets. “ It was hard at the end. She put up a fight though.”
Suddenly, he looked right into my eyes. “It’ll probably sound terrible to you, but I’m kind of excited about starting over.”
Pregnant pause. What the heck do I say to that?
“Well, that’s good.” I stumbled. “So is there anyone in particular?”
“No, no, no. Not at all. I just know what I’m looking for this time. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but it would be someone exactly opposite of Sheila.”
Dear Father in heaven, could this GET any more awkward?
“I mean, I loved her” he added quickly, “but she and I had a rocky thirty years. She was, I guess you’d say, a little difficult.”
He forced a laugh. “She’d say the same about me. Anyway, next time, I want less drama. More peace. And more laughing.”
Time stopped. My chest felt heavy. I couldn’t breathe. This was a God Thing…
We said our good byes. I felt so sad. For Sheila and Robert.
But I also felt sad for my husband, Mike and for me.
The lights in the store were too bright. I looked at my feet. The floor was too shiny.
That’s how Mike would feel if I died tomorrow…
It was true and I knew it.
Uptight. That was me. Life as a rule overwhelmed me. Some days I went from drama to drama.
Finally getting to my car, shivering, I put my head in my hands and wept. Slowly the heater started to warm the cold air around me as I heard a clear message from God’s heart to mine.
If I die before Mike, I don’t want him to look for someone opposite of me. Like Sheila, I needed, less drama. More laughter. More peace.
That very day I came home and wrote down what I wanted Mike to say about me when I was gone…this is it…
*She loved God
*She loved me and the kids
*We always knew she was praying for us
*She made our house a home. Peaceful and safe.
*She supported me and encouraged me constantly.
*She was my best friend.
That list has become my standard. How do you want people to remember you?