This is the blog post that I had intended to write last week for Valentine’s Day before I got sick.
When the final stage of Debbie’s battle with breast cancer started we didn’t realize it. The valentine I wrote about last week (http://www.timkwrites.com/blog/a-valentine-at-last6034764) was the last valentine I gave her. While Debbie couldn't get me a valentine at that time she has been sending me valentines since then.
That summer my daughter’s boyfriend was visiting and as he had never seen Lake Superior before we decided to take him to Minnesota’s North Shore to see it. The loss of Debbie still weighed heavily upon me. It was hard to believe that she was gone.
Most places on the North Shore have memories for me of being there with Debbie. Debbie loved the North Shore, it is where she seemed most able to relax. She loved the different hikes, looking for rocks on beaches, and eating good food. One time we were on a beach and I found a stone that was shaped like the top of a tulip flower. I spent a bit of time looking and eventually I was able to find an oval stone that was colored green that I could use as a stem. Later, when we were home and Debbie was getting ready for the start of the upcoming school year on a day when I usually would give her flowers I put the two stones together and gave her a rock flower.
On our trip that summer one day we were hiking the Cascade River. This aptly named river plunges down to Lake Superior in a series of waterfalls. It was the last hike Debbie and I took together on the North Shore. Usually we would hike the trail from the bottom up. Because of construction we had to park at the campground and join the river trail at its top. At the bottom, close to where the river flows into Lake Superior, the kids all took off their shoes and were wading in the river. I was hopping from rock to rock. At one point I saw a bigger rock that was sitting in the river. I walked over to it and gave it a little push into the current just to see what would happen. Not much as it turned out; the water just flowed around it. I pondered whether I had changed anything by my little alteration of the river. As I turned back towards the shore, there in the river was a stone in the shape of a heart. I realized that Debbie had put it there for me as an echo of my earlier flower gift – it was the valentine she hadn’t been able to give me in February.
After that Debbie has left me several hearts. On Valentine’s Day when I took out our dog, Lucy, right next to the path sitting on top of the snow a couple seeds had formed a heart.
On Christmas Eve, I took Lucy for a walk. The day before we had some slushy snow fall and it had melted on the ground. The temperature had fallen. Any depressions in the ground had collected water which had frozen with a white border around it. They were all circular. Then I came across one in the shape of a heart.
This last summer I was on the North Shore again. My family had a family reunion up there as we’ve done in the past. We had made the effort to make it happen this summer as it would probably be my dad’s last trip there. We were all staying at Cobblestone Cabins. One day I went walking down to the rock beach by the lake. I was thinking it was possible that I might find a heart from Debbie.
I wandered among the rocks watching the waves from the lake. I saw a rock with two rounded edges on the top. I picked it up thinking this must be from Debbie. As I looked more closely at it I realized it was more of a bean shape. I was hoping for a heart. Reluctantly, not wanting to give up, but realizing it wasn’t really a heart I set the stone back down. I took a couple steps to the lake and watched the waves for a little bit before turning around to go back up to the cabin. Looking down I laughed, there was a rock with a heart on it that was clearly not a bean.
What do all these hearts mean? Why am I getting hearts when other people who have lost someone don’t get anything? I guess that Debbie felt that she still had something left to say to me while others who have left don’t feel that need. What do I think she has to say?
I think she is expressing her love for me. Sometimes it was hard for her to do that, she was more of an “actions speak louder than words” person. After I was over the initial shock of her being gone when I remembered our life together I would often think about things I did wrong or could have done better. So, I also take the hearts to mean let that go, it didn’t change her love.
In any case, whether these are messages from the beyond or just coincidences, know that your love impacts this world even beyond the time you are physically present.
Tim Kane's memories, musings and updates.