I listened intently as he placed the photo next to my green tea latte. “I lost my wife to cancer six months ago,” he blurted out. “I miss her more than you can imagine.”
Several customers who were annoyed that their respite at Borders had been interrupted, moved away to other tables or wandered to the back of the store. I took the photo, cupped it in my hands, and commented on how lovely his wife looked in her violet-colored dress with a corsage of pink roses.
His face lit up.
He went on to explain how they met, fell in love, and had three beautiful children. I laid my pen down and listened to more of their love story. “This is my first Valentine’s Day without my sweetheart,” he finally admitted. He glanced down at my stack of Valentine’s cards and added, “I don’t want to take any more of your time… thank you for listening.”
He shuffled back to his seat, buttered his plain bagel, and sipped black coffee with the photo of his wife propped up against a stack of books he had gathered to read. There she remained the entire time, until he finished, picked up his things, and gently placed the photo of his dear wife back in his wallet.
Tears dropped—one by one—onto my Valentine’s cards as I watched the ink smear on my stack of pink and white envelopes. I grabbed a scratchy brown paper napkin and blotted my eyes before fixing the spills.
Time—he just wanted more time with his beloved. Everyone in Borders was so absorbed in their books, magazines, and bagels they couldn’t give a grieving widower a moment of their time. I have to admit that I was tempted to turn away because I was on a tight schedule, but I felt compelled to listen. I saw in this elderly gentleman’s eyes a hurt that ached for his dear wife. He just needed a listening ear.
Images of his wife—and their once happy life—were gone! This Valentine’s Day will be his first without his sweetheart and a test of his faith. I’m thankful I listened and wished I could have done more, but maybe that’s all he needed—a listening ear.
Valentine’s Day is a time to remember those we love and an opportunity to share just how much they mean to us—not just one day a year—but every day of our lives.
Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!