I wasn’t planning to blog today, but couldn’t sleep. So, this morning I wake up at 3:00 am, as I often do… This has been an odd side effect of the past year or so. Often in the middle of the night I would get up to check on Ashley and I would look at the clock and it would be around 3 am. Not sure why 3 am but Ashley usually had to get up through the night to use the restroom. But I would wake up and I would see that Ashley was okay or at least sleeping well and then fall back asleep. But since Ashley passed, I have still been waking up at 3 am. It was every night for the 1st month, now it’s not as often and I usually go back to sleep, or write…No luck going back to sleep this morning.
Tried falling asleep. Laid there… still awake, read a book…still awake. Thought about Ashley… still awake.
Checked social media…still awake. Checked Ashley’s Timehop…. hmm, not sure if I should avoid Timehop.
On Timehop, Ashley had several years of pictures of the boys opening Valentine’s gifts. (Ashley got the boys small gifts for every holiday; Valentine’s day, St. Patrick’s Day, Labor Day, Flag day…) Pictures of past snow days (9 years ago and 5 years ago). There were also posts without pictures, saying Happy Valentine’s day to me. So that didn’t help me get back to sleep. But it reminded me that I had to get the boys gifts ready. (I was going to do it last night but fell asleep. Maybe that’s why I woke up? Ashley was always sneaky with her cards and gifts. I never saw her put them out. I could never tell if she went against our pact and actually got me something other than a card, until I went to leave for work.) Not able to sleep, I got up and wrapped Valentine’s presents for Fischer and Baker.
Yesterday, I picked something up for the boys, because that’s what Ashley would have done. Then I tried to go back to sleep, no luck. I laid there thinking about Ashley and our past Valentine’s. We actually never ‘celebrated’ Valentine’s day. We exchanged cards and hung out. That was about it. But I guess that is how we celebrated, writing a nice card to each other and not having anything on our schedule…
We have spent every Valentine’s together since 2006. I have lots of great memories of Valentine’s days with Ashley. The most memorable was 2011, when we found out she was pregnant with Fischer. Actually, we found out on February 13th but it still counts as the best Valentine’s gift ever. February 2014 (TMI) resulted in Baker Bug 9 months later. February 2017, Ashley wrote a sweet blog about me. (I wonder what she would think about me writing every one of my blogs about her). In 2018, like most years we stayed home and enjoyed being with each other and the boys.
Early on, Ashley and I agreed that Valentine’s was more of pain to celebrate by going out than it was worth. Also, the timing was not great as far as gifts go. We just got back on track with spending from Christmas and then my birthday is at the end of March followed by Ashley’s birthday a week later in April. (I did get her a subscription to Apple Music a few years ago and she said that was a great gift, so I put it on auto renewal to save $18. Now I have another happy/sad reminder of Ashley every Valentine’s Day. The boys get my money’s worth, so that’s a plus.) We always got each other a card though. I kept everyone of Ashley’s and she kept everyone of mine. I’m so glad I have these cards, these memories…
I’ve blogged about cheerleading as Ashley’s ministry, but she also used her math lectern to preach. (She would say her podium, but I would always correct her. A podium is more of a stage. A lectern is what most preachers, teachers, speakers, etc. speak from. This drove Ashley nuts when I would ‘correct’ her, but later in our marriage she would correct others for using the podium misnomer).
Valentine’s was a favorite topic of hers to her male and female students. She would remind the boys to treat their girlfriends nice, not pressure them into anything. She would then remind the girls, “that boys are stupid and that you should not make any life altering decisions off of what a boy tells you.”
Case in point, I told Ashley, “ I was not getting attached to anything or anyone in Georgia.. Glad, she realized that I was a stupid boy and did not make any life altering decisions based on what I said…
Ashley also didn’t want anyone to feel left out on Valentine’s day. She thought it was so awesome that Dr. Markham started a tradition of giving every girl in the school a flower on Valentine’s day. If I am not mistaken, every girl received a rose that first year at Mill Creek and subsequent years a carnation. Ashley was also happy that Mr. Lane and the student council continued that tradition on Valentine’s Day till this day.
Overall, Valentine’s day was a Hallmark holiday to Ashley and I. That’s not to say she wasn’t wanting romance. But she and I tried to love each other every day. Not only on a holiday. Easier said than done. But once I came to my senses, every decision, every action was out of my love for Ashley. That is what makes days like today hard. I still love her and want her to know that…
Our good friend Trisha told me this morning that she “knows choosing happy will be hard today, so choose love.” That I can do. I choose to love my boys, my family, and friends, everyone really… That’s what Ashley would do.