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Word Changes Meaning

Monday, August 14, 2017
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Word Changes Meaning

Have you experienced a situation that forever changed a word’s meaning? The first time a word had a significant change for me happened on 9/11. I was born in America, always lived in the United States, but it wasn’t until 9/11 that I experienced pride for my country and the word “American” changed for me. The word became richer and deep with meaning. When 9/11 happened I was living in Texas, member of a Rotary club. Our service project was to put up American Flags in yards for special holidays: Memorial Day, July 4th, Presidents Day. We installed PVC pipe on the front left edge of people’s yards and on these holidays, we loaded up trucks with huge flags and walked through neighborhoods putting up a flags early before the sun when up – then taking them down at the end of the day. When 9/11 happened, we decided to put up our flags and leave them for a week. It was a unique experience walking empty streets while most were still sleeping, with a huge American flags waving over my shoulder. Seeing the truck full of flags and then one by one helping friends put them up in neighborhoods – it was a moving experience and the word American will never be as empty as it once was for me.

The same has happened for me when my husband died. The word “Love” changed. Prior to his death I openly used the word love – I was raised in a family with lots of it. It was not hard for me to share with someone that I loved them, but it wasn’t until Dave’s death did I realize the depth of the word and the longing to express it.

When people have asked how are you doing? How are you managing everything as a widow? I reply, “Dave may be gone, but he left me with a lot of love. So much that it will last me my lifetime and it is what keeps me going.” As I have shared before in these blogs, his death was sudden and very unexpected (heart attack in his sleep). My life was held together with love as I coped first with shock, then trying to live in the moment, and now the continual forward motion with a life different than what I had expected.

Recently a friend shared, “People say the word love too much and it has lost its meaning.” Their point was they were annoyed how we use love to describe how we feel towards objects such as: “Oh, I love those shoes – I love your hair – I love this donut” … and do we really love those things? I didn’t get into a debate about it, as I’m still living in the richness of Dave’s love. I have found myself sharing “I love you” with friends, family, neighbors, and even coworkers- when there is a special departure. I find myself blurting and it makes me smile because the word has such richness to it. In fact, I love saying “I Love …”. It feels good to share the word and maybe I should have more shame about who is receiving it but I don’t care because it is lovely to give out love.

Dave’s death has given me perspective and more appreciation for love. It represents more than the romantic love I have for my husband, or the respectful love I have for my parents and siblings, or the all-encompassing love I have for my child. The word love is simple and yet deep with rich feelings. It is something I want to share with everyone as tomorrow is not a guarantee and the best I can offer anyone is my love because after I’m gone that is what I will leave behind.

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