One Last Valentine

Who said it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?

by - Posted on Jan 8, 2010

This was my fourth Valentine’s Day without my beloved husband, Jim.

I had finally gotten over the worst of my grief. But as I bustled around the kitchen that morning getting breakfast ready for our 17-year-old daughter, Stephanie, I found myself yearning for those little things that Jim always did—the notes he left for me, the heart-shaped box of chocolates, surprise trips to the movies.

I could hear the radio playing in Stephanie’s room while she finished getting ready for school. She would be here in a minute. I stayed focused on what I was doing. Still, what I wouldn’t have given for one of Jim’s sweet romantic notes in his careful and deliberate hand.

Jim was just 38 years old when he had the heart attack. We’d been married 17 years. He wasn’t a big talker—he joked that I talked enough for us both, which I guess was true—but he made sure Stephanie and I knew how much he loved us.

I laid out the breakfast things, remembering how devoted he was to Stephanie. On cold days like this, Jim would run out with her to make a snowman. He worked the night shift at the G.M. plant and he always joined her for lunch at home—we homeschooled our daughter in those days.

Stephanie called from her room, “Mom, who said this quote—‘Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all?’ They’re having a Valentine’s Day contest on the radio. If you get the right answer, you could win concert tickets.”

“Hmm,” I said. I loved quotes. In fact, I still had the copy of Five Thousand Quotations for All Occasions that I’d owned since before I met Jim. “I’ll look it up,” I called back.

I walked into the living room, remembering how that had been one of the few differences between Jim and me—I loved to read; he didn’t. In almost every other way, though, we were a perfect match.

I pulled the book from the shelf. It had my maiden name, Miss Rebecca Bellah, signed inside the front cover. I turned to the section on love.

There it was. The poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson said that it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Was that really true? Right now my heart ached at having lost my Jim.

Some writing on the preceding page caught my eye. I didn’t remember writing anything there. I looked more closely.

That careful handwriting was Jim’s! Just four words: “To Rebecca, from Jim.” With an arrow pointing to a quote: “Thus let me hold thee to my heart and every care resign: And we shall never, never part, my life—my all that’s mine!”

Loved and lost? Not my Jim. This last Valentine was God’s way of showing me Jim’s love would be with me always.

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