Your Final Gift To Me

Dear Larry:

I think that you would admit that you spoiled me!   You showered me with unexpected gifts at unexpected times for no reason at all.  You detested obligatory times when gifts were expected and abandoned these traditions many years ago.  That was fine with me too.  Looking back now, I did not spoil you with gifts nearly as much.  After all, it was impossible to buy you gifts.  If you saw it and wanted it, you bought it for yourself.  I remember the boys coming to you and begging you to stop buying “stuff” after September so that would be some item of interest remaining to purchase for you for Christmas.  Every year they asked what you wanted for Christmas and every year you said the same thing; black sweatpants.  That became our annual family joke when every year you opened your Christmas gift of new black sweatpants.  You did not care about the Christmas gift.  Your gift was the chaos created when our entire family gathered under our roof for a loud and messy celebration.  You watched our grandchildren open their gifts and come running to hug their Boo Boo as they delighted in the annual over indulgence we created.  You savored as we all gathered, held hands, prayed Grace before dinner and sat together for our feast.  Your job was to carve the turkey, open the wine and create memories.  This past Christmas looked very different because this was our first one without you.

Years ago, we were in a specialty shop.  They were featuring music boxes and I stood at the shelves winding the boxes and listening to the chimes.  The boxes were china, crystal or wood, each beautifully painted.  The music was hypnotic and peaceful.  You finally pried me away from the boxes and I mentioned how soothing the music was and how beautiful these boxes they were to look at.   I told you the story of the music box I had as a little girl.  It was a pink jewelry box with a little ceramic ballerina who would spin and dance for as long as the music played.   She danced to Stardust.  I remember as an adult hearing Nat King Cole on the radio singing Stardust and I started to cry.  It was a mystery to me why that song triggered that overwhelming emotion for me.  Years went by before I connected Stardust to my music box.  My memory now is myself as a child going to my room when I was sad and playing Stardust over and over while crying.  Even today, Stardust makes me cry.

Then the packages began to arrive on my desk.  Each package had a music box, some in sets and some individual.  Each played a different song.   They arrived weekly and I bought a new corner cabinet for our dining room so that I could display this new collection.  You filled that cabinet and I began to fill our bookshelf.  You sent me over 60 music boxes and topped it off, just for humor, with a wooden box that plays the LSU Fight Song. 

I had to be careful when I commented on what I liked.  If I would have said to you, “Baby, I really love the moon” you would have shoved the sun aside and pushed the stars out of the way to ensure that the moon would be sitting on my desk the next morning.   You went to extraordinary measures for me and I was certainly to envy of many of my female friends.  Their husbands never went to that kind of trouble for them.  I knew that I had been blessed with you.

The magazine arrived in our mailbox addressed to you.  While waiting at a stop light, I opened the pages and there it was!  Over the years, you had bought at least a dozen different wedding bands for us, but I had never had the traditional set.  This set took my breathe away.  When I gave you your mail, I left the magazine opened to this page.  I put it on your desk and tapped on the picture.  I said that it was so unique and thought it was stunning.  So was the price tag! 

Christmas Day arrived.  We agreed again that we would not exchange gifts.  You told a little fib!  I saw you digging underneath your chair to bring out the blue box.  You did not say a word, but just handed me the unwrapped hinged box.  I looked at you and rolled my eyes.  You just smiled and waited for me to open it.  I opened the box just a crack and peeked in and immediately snapped the box shut.  “You didn’t!”  You responded, “I did”.  You took the ring I was wearing from my finger and slipped this new wedding set on.  It fit perfectly.   And there it was.  The set that I had seen in the magazine that took I thought was stunning.  Again, it was the gift that you gave me just because I said I liked it.  The beautiful canary yellow diamond wedding set was your gift to me and all I could do was hug you and weep with gratitude for the husband that you were to me.

Then you got ill, we knew our future days would be a challenge.  We took advantage of the moments we had fearing that they were numbered.  I fought back tears every evening as I left the hospital ticking days off and realizing that I was one day closer to losing you.  God please, let me come back tomorrow and have one more day with him!  And one more after that, And one more after that.

They told me it was all but over.  They could do no more.  All I could do now was to tend to your immortal soul and prepare for God to welcome you.   I called for a Chaplin so that we could have Prayers for the Sick.  This was one gift I could give to you to ensure that you were ready in case God decided He wanted you tonight after they made me leave your room.  It was you, me and the Chaplin.  You closed your eyes as we prayed.  He anointed you and talked to God about you.  I looked at your face and saw peacefulness and calm.   You had resigned yourself to your fate. I had not.  God, no. Please do not take him!

When the Chaplin completed his prayers, you opened your eyes and thanked him.  You held your hand out for me to take and you said to the Chaplin, “This is my wife Priscilla.  She is the best wife it he world”.  You smiled at me, squeezed my hand and closed your eyes.  Those were the last words you ever spoke on this earth.  This was your final gift to me.

Thank you, my love, for this last gift you gave to me.  It was the gift that acknowledged our lives together.    Know that it was the honor of my life to be your wife.

I miss you.

Your wife,