One of the hardest parts of grief is the unexpected ways it creeps into everyday events. Yesterday was of those days where everything brought on the tears, and I actually ended up just getting up and leaving less than halfway through church service so I could go cry in my car.
Today seemed better, and I was so thankful. I woke up and hit the ground running. By lunch time, I’d gotten 80% of my work tasks for the day finished, I had laundry running, and I used my lunch break to clean out the fridge. I wrapped up my work day and got on Facebook, then I saw a post and remembered I’d never finished the checkout process for something on Emily’s brother’s wedding registry, so I did that.
When I pushed button to finish the transaction, one of those waves hit me… And I spent the next 30 minutes wiping away the tears.
As I cried, I started asking myself why something that normally would bring me and Emily such joy was making me cry, especially when I’d been so stable all day. Of course, here I am hours later, still wondering why buying a registry gift tugged at my heartstrings so much. And, honestly, I don’t have an answer. But, I do know that Emily would be happy about the gift because she always loved getting the people she loved things that brought them joy.
Emily Lived For Holiday Shopping
Okay, let me rephrase that heading — Emily loved to shop all the time. However, she really enjoyed the opportunity to shop for other people.
Every Christmas that I knew her, she’d sit down and carefully plan out what to get each person on her list. She especially loved shopping for her nieces, but really everyone got special treatment. Sometimes I’d watch her hunt for weeks, trying to find the perfect gift, and every time, she’d get so happy when she came across an item that made her think of someone on her list.
Birthdays were done in a similar fashion. Whether it was her youngest niece or her dad, Emily made sure to find the perfect gift and the perfect card for each and every person when their birthday rolled around.
I don’t know that I’d ever seen someone who put so much thought and effort into gift giving. I also don’t know that I’ve ever seen someone so happy to watch someone open the gifts she got for them, but Emily always was.
Of course, the fact that I not only have all of the gifts she ever gave me, but that I absolutely cherish them (and did even before she died) should tell you everything you need to know about her gift giving skills.
I have two different t-shirts she got me for two separate Christmases. One of them says, “You can talk to me about mental health… And cats.” The other one is a music joke and says, “These are difficult times,” then has two complicated time signatures on it. I also have the Grey’s Anatomy book and cactus shirt she got me for my birthday a couple years ago, which I’ll never forget.
Any Excuse Was A Good Excuse To Buy A Gift
Of course, holidays only come around so many times each year. But that didn’t stop Emily from finding other excuses to buy random gifts for the people she loved.
I’m pretty sure that every time that woman went into Five Below or Target, she came home with something for everyone in the house. And every time we’d clean up her apartment or clean out her car, she’d find a “just because gift” she’d picked up for someone from a store because “it made me think of them as soon as I saw it.”
I told her time and time again that she was spoiling the kids and I by buying random gifts. Every single time, she’d just smile and say, “I love all of you and you deserve to be spoiled.” And, given that most of the items came from $5 or less sections of stores, I guess I can’t argue with her too much.
However, I think what I really learned from watching her buy things for people is this: Emily always had other people on her mind, and she enjoyed expressing her love for them in any way that she possibly could. She bought items because they made her think of the person she got them for, and giving the item to the person was a way for her to let them know that they’re always on her mind… Even when she’s in the middle of Five Below.
I Would Love To Harness Her Gift-Giving Spirit
I’ll be honest, gift giving has never been a skill that I possess. I am terrible at remembering birthdays, and even worse at taking the time to go shopping for someone and pick out the perfect gift. But, after seeing the joy that doing it brought Emily and knowing how much I cherish the gifts she gave to me, I’d really like to see if I can get better at the whole gift giving thing this year.
It may be the best thing I’ve ever done. Or, it may completely flop. But, either way, it’s another thing I can do to try to keep Emily’s spirit alive. And that’s something I really, truly want to do with my entire soul.
I loved everything about Emily. And Emily loved giving gifts. So here goes nothing as I try to find pieces of myself in the things that mattered to the woman I loved.