"Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold."
― Written by Zelda Fitzgerald in her novel, Save Me The Waltz.
I remember, specifically, Valentine's Day 1989. I was working on the city desk at the Ledger-Enquirer newspaper in Columbus, Ga. This day in particular is big because it's the first one I experienced as a member of the Real World. You know, on my own, college graduate, buying groceries, full-time job, etc. I was working the night before the Big Day and I remember mentioning how "sad" I was because I wasn't going to get any valentines.
I came to work and on my desk was a little envelope.
"Miss Patti," it said. "My dad (who was the city editor) said you weren't getting any valentines so I made this one for you."
Best valentine I ever got. And the only one I got that year. It hung on my desk for years. No, I don't know where he is today. I guess he's 29-30 now? Married, getting little valentines of his own. He probably doesn't even remember making it for me. I guess it's so precious to me because it was done out of pure love. The kind of love that little kids show with wild and reckless abandon, not caring who sees. He saved me that day. His little 6-year-old gesture made me feel I was not forgotten.
After my First Mike died, I announced, to no one in particular, that I was never going to get married again. Yep. Never even going to kiss another man. Ever. How could I? How could I even pretend to think that I could love again. After all, I was still in love with First Mike. It didn't matter that he was dead.
God has a funny way of changing up my plans. If you're smiling, He's changed yours around at some point, too.
I did marry again. Current Mike (the Caregiver) and I met at a children's grief support group. His wife had died. They had two little girls. First Mike and I had four kids. When First Mike proposed marriage to me, he asked my father for permission. When Current Mike proposed marriage to me, he asked my children for permission.
I remember people being angry at me for getting married again. They said they didn't understand how I could "do that." They said they didn't understand how I could replace First Mike. They said it seemed I had forgotten him.
I didn't replace him. He's not forgotten. I still, even today, love him.
Most people don't understand this. How could I be in love with First Mike and also in love with Current Mike?
I explain it this way. When our first child was born, we were brimming with love and awe. "She's amazing. Spectacular. Never before has there been a baby so incredible." We wanted to have a second child. But, frankly, we were afraid. "How in the world will we ever love another baby as much as we love the one we already have?"
Then God does this amazing thing. Just when you think your heart is full, he pulls it and stretches it and grows it. And you discover, yes, you do have room in your heart for more babies after all.
That's what it feels like to be married again. The space in my heart that belongs to First Mike still belongs to him. God expanded my heart and I discovered I loved Current Mike, too. When I thought my heart was full, God pulled it and stretched it and made more room. Blew me away.