Seashells and Shaving Cream

But Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19

I  decide on coral and teal. If I cannot go to my happy place at the beach this year, I tell myself, I will bring the beach to me, beachy colors that will calm my soul every time I take a shower. Happily, I order a shower curtain and a window shade online. While I wait for the packages to arrive, I gather other items: new peach and white flowers for the washing pitcher that belonged to my grandmother, the little jar of seashells we bought in Bermuda, a pink candle I find in the downstairs cabinet. Amazon delivers on Thursday and on Friday, armed with cleaning supplies and a trash bag, I head up to the hall bathroom to refresh my soul with happy things.

I am delighted with the colors, glad that the light gray walls allow me to change the decor without major expense. I have even indulged in new curtain hooks in the shapes of seashells and starfish. I delve into the top drawer of the cabinet under the window. Time to clear out the clutter! I toss empty shampoo bottles, old toothbrushes, and a dried up jar of Vaseline with happy abandon. I reach into the very back of the cabinet and pull out a can.
And I stop and sink to the teal colored rug on the floor of the bathroom, holding a can of Barbisol shaving cream in my hand, and cry.

This was Ron's. The only kind he ever used, the kind that was put into his Christmas stocking by one of the kids every year and given on each Father's Day along with Old Spice aftershave. The can still emits the faint, clean scent of my late husband. Quickly, the memories come pouring into my mind: Ron on our honeymoon, carefully shaving while I watched, fascinated by the contours on my new husband's face. Ron on our trip to Jamaica, needing to buy a different brand of shaving cream at the gift shop--at an outrageous price--because he forgot to pack it. I probably said a few unkind words. Ron sitting in his wheelchair, no longer able to hold the razor, giving me instructions while I lathered his face and prayed I would not cut him. Ron in his hospital bed, the nursing aide using an electric razor to trim his bushy gray beard.
Memories, psychology tells us,  allow us to relive special moments in our lives, both good and bad (Psychology Today). And God designed memories so we could relive not only the grand moments of our lives, but the small and  intimate details that make up the years, the relationships. A marriage.

There on the bathroom rug, the shaving cream in my hand, I recall Luke 2:19, "But Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart." I want to believe that these small moments--Jesus in his infancy and childhood, ordinary moments to anyone but a mother--are what gave her the courage she needed to bide him farewell.

It has been a year and a little since I bide Ron farewell. Not forever, but for now. I am learning to negotiate the path one step at a time, making a new life for myself and my autistic son, allowing myself to cry over a can of shaving cream and store up a few more treasures in my heart.

It was a long battle for us,  an uphill battle of many years and many illnesses. We learned in those years, Ron and I, to treasure the small moments of peace: a shared meal from a hospital tray, a day without surgery, a cup of tea after work drunk at his bedside. God was faithful on our upward climb. The road was often dark and treacherous, the path unknown.
The path led Ron to Heaven.

I walk alone now, on a new path of widowhood. I have not "moved on" from Ron, but I have "moved forward," twisting those many years of care taking--what was often back-breaking and soul-crushing--into my life. I hang coral colored curtains and seashell curtain rings. I cry over small things.

God is still faithful.

The tears are a healing balm. Soon I am able to get up from the rug in the middle of the bathroom floor and toss the empty can into the trash bag. I hang my new curtains, place my little memories around the room. I touch the seashell shaped curtain hooks one by one, each one a memory of a happy day. 

My husband is still here, in each action I take, each thought I think. Like the coral and the teal colors I have chosen, he calms my soul.

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