I’ve been a bit nostalgic these past few days leading up to the 5 year mark of Tony’s passing. I love describing it this way; I’ve waited a long time to be able to reflect fondly on our love story without it being over-shadowed by grief. I still get teary, but it’s more out of a deep sense of gratitude for having been loved so extravagantly.
All of our old pictures and videos are pristinely archived by date and event in an external hard drive; that was one of Tony’s many organization projects. I decided to go back to the beginning of our story, all 3.5 years of it. As I searched through date after date, I noted two things:
- Though our time was short, we certainly made the most of it. He opened me to a whole new world of adventure, exposed me to more new things than I could have ever imagined, and captured every moment he possibly could. What a tremendous gift of memories for me.
- Though I was never a big fan, he took a lot, and I mean a lot, of pictures and videos of just me.
The first observation is now a part of my DNA. I’ve always got a new travel or adventure up my sleeve because I learned it from him. The second observation is what I’m actually most thankful for at this five year mark.
At the time I HATED that he took so many pictures of me, and I HATED having my picture taken by myself. One video in particular struck me. Tony took it while we were waiting in line at Taqueria del Sol (still one of my faves) on one of our date nights as a married couple. In his inquisitive way, he was “interviewing” me on where we were and what we were doing. I responded with very short answers and kept turning my face away from the camera. I could not have been any less enthusiastic.
Seriously. I was a jerk…or whatever you call the female version of jerk.
Now I want to reach through that camera, grab her by the shoulders and look at her eye to eye. I want to tell her how much she was gonna miss this man doting on her, romancing her. I want to tell her to be excited for that date because her dates with this man were limited; that one day she’d long to be loved like this again. Yes, I offer grace because I know she did not act like this on every date, that she had no idea their marriage would end so soon, and that there were days that she was just plain tired (or hungry!) and did not want a camera in her face.
Even more, I want to tell her to quit believing the lies of never enough, to be okay with just being her. I wanted so desperately for her to see herself as beautiful, not because of any outward adornment, and not even because of what her husband repeatedly told her, but because of Who created her.
I know it was me on that video, but it’s as if I don’t know her anymore.
Sure, I can still act like a jerk; I can certainly get tired and cranky. But what I found on the other side of grief was a deep understanding of God’s great love for me, and with that love, the lens through which I see myself has forever changed. Out of my confidence in who I am in Him, I can be me, fully me. I need not hide my face anymore.
What a tremendous legacy Tony left me in picture after picture that he took of me. It gives me a glimpse of the way he saw me. And the way he saw me and loved me was the catalyst for me seeing me differently. He loved me despite my insecurities. He saw the best in me when I could not see it in myself. And this is what ultimately led me to the realization that if he could love me this much as mere man, imagine how the God of the Universe feels about me.
Tony’s years on earth may seem short by the world’s terms, but the impact he has made is immeasurable. I can never thank him enough. He has set me up well to love again one day.