That had been my routine for the past week or so. Since word of his diagnosis had gotten 'round.
I wasn't surprised when the envelopes addressed only to my husband began arriving, but he was. In fact, when I presented the envelopes every afternoon, he looked at them somewhat suspiciously, as if I was playing a prank on him.
I handed him that day's collection and went to the kitchen to refresh his glass of cold water. I didn't want to hover; I wanted to give him his privacy as he read messages that, I learned when I read them every evening after he went to bed, contained heartfelt personal messages.
When I returned a few minutes later with his water and some fruit, he looked up at me from where he was sitting on the couch. He looked shyly embarrassed.
"I can't believe all these people are taking the time to send me cards and messages. I had no idea!"
"No idea, what?" I asked, sitting next to him on the couch.
"I had no idea that this many people liked me."
I was shocked by my husband's statement. He was a great guy. Nice to others, non-judgmental, easy-going, quiet (until you got to know him), funny and fun-loving, always willing to help others . . .
Everyone liked him! It was obvious. How could he not know?
The truth is, though, that countless people walk through each day of their life never feeling liked or loved by anyone outside their immediate family. By coworkers or acquaintances. Even by friends.
And that simply breaks my heart. Just as my husband's words broke my heart that afternoon nearly 10 years ago.
If you know my family's story, you realize that my husband's cancer journey didn't end well for those of us left behind.
43 days after his diagnosis, 39 days after his 48th birthday, 13 days before what would have been our 25th wedding anniversary, he passed away.
Today would have been his 58th birthday.
I wish that today you were preparing to come over to our house for a huge birthday party. We'd have his favorites -- white cake with whipped cream frosting and ho-made ice-cream. We'd sing happy birthday and joke & laugh as he tried to blow out 58 candles on his cake. And there'd be lots of teasing about him being an "old man".
Instead of having you over for a party, I have a favor to ask of you. It may be a challenge for you, but that's okay. It's a good challenge -- one that will make you feel great. I promise!
Whether or not you knew my husband, I ask you to do one thing for the next 39 days.
Once a day, every day, somehow convey to someone you know -- preferably a different person each day -- that they bring you joy, that they are important to you.
That you like them.
It doesn't have to be a grand gesture. Often, it's the little things that mean the most. You can do it anonymously, if you're shy.
But do it. Before it's too late.
You don't think you can do that for 39 days? That's okay. Do it once. Today. Then do it again tomorrow. Maybe, just maybe, you'll feel moved do it again the next day.
Don't know what to do? I've created a list below to inspire you, and if you have any ideas to add, please share them via a comment to this post.
Wait! You can't think of 39 people? I've got a list for that as well. Just scroll on down. :)
These are the cards, stored in a wicker basket in my bedroom. Someday I want to read them again. Every single one was a blessing, a gift of love.