My family had just come back from spending two years in Southeast Asia. We were finally getting over jet lag and slowly adjusting to the rigid, cold winter weather we had missed for the past two years. It was January 10th. I can remember it clearly.
“Hey, your long lost friend sent an email,” my husband called over his shoulder. He briefly skimmed it and told me the highlights as I took care of my three-month-old baby.
“OK, I’ll read it in a sec,” I casually replied. Wow, I haven’t heard from her in a long time.
After about 15 minutes I was able to get to the computer and read the email. It was a typical how are you email…until the end.
“Life without my husband has been tough…”
What in the world could she possibly mean? My friend, who was a SAHM with three kids now had a life without her husband? This couldn’t be!
“Did you read this whole email, honey?” I squeaked out nervously to my husband.
“No, not really,” he answered. “Why?”
Then I read him the last line of the email.
“The email sounds like either he left her or…he died,” I informed my husband. “But if he left her, she wouldn’t speak so fondly of him.” My voice trailed off in worry.
“Don’t jump to conclusions,” my husband gently reminded me. He is always good at settling me down.
He told me he would do some research and see what information he could find. I nodded and headed to the shower without saying a word.
It seemed my arms were limp. Never had it been so hard to lather my hair and go through the normal routines of life. I knew something was wrong.
After I got dressed, I began to sob. I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I knew my close friend’s husband had been killed. I just knew it.
Seconds later my husband entered the bathroom and put his arms around me — holding me as I sobbed the hardest I had in years.
“I found the information. He was hit by a transfer truck one night,” said my husband, gently relaying the harsh reality to me.
Losing my husband had always been a fear in the back of my mind. To think that one of my closest friends had to endure that pain in reality was agonizing. She had three small children and was a SAHM. This couldn’t be happening! But, as much as I wanted to wish away her pain, it was indeed a reality. One she would have to live with every single day.
Finally we were able to talk and her strength and kindness was unreal. She said she was thankful for the 15 years she had enjoyed with her husband and though she didn’t understand why this happened, God would help her through it.
I had so many questions to ask her, but didn’t. I couldn’t help wonder how she would take care of her family financially or if she would have to stop homeschooling. Somehow, some remarkable way, she has had enough to live on and is still homeschooling today. No, her husband did not have life insurance.
One month later I received a card in the mail with a sweet letter, a family picture and some cash. It was from her. Tears came streaming down my face. I didn’t even care about the money, but to know that she sacrificed and gave — she, a widow, gave me a gift. It was to help me buy things for my home in Southeast Asia — it wasn’t a small gift by any means. Her sacrifice inspires me to sacrifice.
Fast-forward to the holidays and our family is back in Southeast Asia, and the holidays are a tough time since we are away from family, friends and all the holiday scenes we enjoy so much. Any little bit of home we can get is always encouraging and uplifting. Apparently my friend knows this and I get a phone call.
“Alison, our family wants to send you a box for Christmas,” says my friend’s sweet voice.
My throat chokes up. Her? She has so much on her, and she wants to send my family gifts?
“Please, we want to do this and I asked a few other people to pitch in too,” she said with happy anticipation.
Well, she did indeed send the Christmas box and it was absolutely perfect for our family. Chocolates, Christmas decorations and small toys were all tucked away in this box that was sent with love and sacrifice.
Do you know what my friend taught me? She taught me that even in difficult circumstances, we should give. We should give a smile, a hug, time, home-cooked meals, money, and even Christmas boxes to people living overseas. My priceless, treasured friend doesn’t focus on her trying circumstances, but, instead, focuses on the needs and happiness of others. If a widow with three children can sacrifice and give, can’t we?
This year you can easily pass on some tokens of happiness to others through New York Life. Take a few moments and share your own special Keep Good Going moments and experiences on their website. They will donate 25 meals to Feeding America for every tweet that includes #KeepGoodGoing and #FeedingAMillion.
*Through 1/9/15, New York Life will donate $2.50 for each approved post, with a minimum of $25K & a maximum of $100K. See full terms and conditions at NewYorkLife.com/CelebratingGood. Find info about Feeding America at feedingamerica.org.
To this day, I am thankful for my friend who continues to give and serve others — despite her circumstances. She is truly one gift I am thankful for every single day — and especially around the holidays! Share what you are thankful for this holiday season in the comments below to be entered to win a $50 Visa Gift card and a $50 donation on behalf of BlogHer will be given in the winner’s name to Feeding America.
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