Today is my 200th post and Valentine's weekend. My first without D. I've decided to give it up for the Happy Memories.
D was a mechanical engineer who worked for Westinghouse for about 25 years. He moved to Texas to be part of the supercollider project that was shut down by the government. He took his engineering skills to the semiconductor industry, and you can guess where that little turn in the road led in 2001: D's first layoff.
We played the "What would you love to do for a living?" game. I was already many years into my dream job of teaching elementary school. He said that he had always wanted to build custom furniture or be an architect. My grandmother had left us a small inheritance, so we used the money to allow him to buy tools and large equipment for a furniture business. He loved working with wood, and for about 18 months was as happy (and as busy) as could be. And that's when cancer came to live in our home and D's body.
Surgery followed surgery, and it became apparent that he could no longer work on large pieces, but did so many beautiful custom woodworking projects to our home. Time for the "What would you love to do..." game again, and this time he turned to a less strenuous choice: architecture. He went back to school to learn how to do design work on his computer, and was immediately given a job by a friend of a friend. His specialty was designing custom kitchens. On more than one occasion I got to see the completed work from his designs, and was blown away by his creative ideas and attention to detail. His boss was a saint who let him work whenever he could around surgeries, procedures and long recoveries as cancer continued to call.
I love reflecting on this over my shoulder. Unbeknownst to us, D only had about 7 years to live after the initial diagnosis. But God knew, and He allowed D two of his heart's desires even during the hardest path of life: building custom furniture and architectural design work. I am forever grateful for those blessings.
About a year ago, D decided to sell some of his large and specialized tools. Loyal Brother-in-Law knew a man who did custom cabinet work, and asked this man if he'd be interested in the tools. J came over and was amazed at all D had available, and was very grateful for the good deal D gave him.
Fast forward to now. There were many home projects left unfinished when D left this world in July. I decided the best thing to do is to fix the house up in case I decide to sell it. I asked Loyal Brother-in-Law for help in locating someone to finish the work around my house. His suggestion? How about: J.
J came to look the house over and agreed that the repairs and detail work would be relatively easy. He also had many suggestions that I had not even thought of. Loyal Brother-in-Law threw out another suggestion: would J be willing to trade the work for D's tools?
We took J into the garage and D's workroom and I think he was stunned by the number of custom tools that D had owned. J agreed that he could finish out all the projects in my entire house, and even owe me money, in exchange for the tools.
This was wonderful for me on so many levels: I don't have to contract out all the little jobs like scraping popcorn ceilings, painting walls, replacing doors and baseboards, finishing trimwork and a multitude of other small repairs. J and his crew can do it all. And I do not have to go through the harrowing job of the archeological dig through D's tools, while trying to parcel them out one at a time to people who may not even appreciate them. I know that J and his people will use them purposefully for years to come.
J and his crew began work last week on my home, and on cleaning out D's garage. I had not been able to go out among D's tools since losing him in July. That day, I asked Loyal Sister and Brother-in-Law to also take all the medical equipment that was stored among the tools. I returned home to an empty, clean garage and felt surprisingly light in my heart. I'm determined that not everything has to feel like loss. This mercy miracle from the hand of God fulfilled many of the desires of my heart: finishing D's projects, getting the house ready to sell if I feel that's what I am to do when my year's decision-making moratorium ends, having the tools go to someone who will be blessed by them, and a turn-key job that will not require me to handle multiple contractors. God is faithful.
My Valentine's weekend plans? I'm going out of town to visit one of my best friends, and then heading to Fort Worth to celebrate D's oldest daughter's 25th birthday with her. I'm using the road time to think, pray and listen for God's heart and plans for me in the coming days.
And I'm reflecting on precious memories. It's been 7 months today since I lost D. I find that most memories bring smiles and joy, instead of the tears that seemed to continually mark the brittle-as-glass early days of loss. D and I got engaged on Valentine's day. I remember questioning him when he popped the question and pulled out the ring, "What are you asking God for?" And his reply? "Your heart."
Well, D, you got it. And you still have it. You were a desire of my heart. And I was blessed to have you for the time that I did. Happy Valentine's Day, baby.