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Chocolates or Tamiflu?

My husband and I are careful about how we spend money on holidays and tend to lean toward more practical gifts.  Need a new can opener?  New vacuum cleaner bags?  New litter box for the cats?  I’ll wrap it up and give it to you for Valentine’s Day!  Neither of us minds this arrangement, though we certainly know couples who give pricy jewelry and spa treatments and gourmet chocolate covered fruit.  We did that back in high school and college, before four kids and a mortgage forced us to whittle away excess and spend our funds a bit more prudently.  Seriously, when we have a hundred dollar bill, we look at it and ask ourselves, “Dinner out as a couple, or Disney World fund?”  You know which one we choose.

Last year was actually a pretty big Valentine’s Day, though, because Robert sent me a dozen roses.  From a flower shop.  With a personalized card.  In a delivery van that came to my house.  Sure, it was part of a Groupon deal, but still.  That evening I took a photo of him with the bouquet and posted it on facebook, garnering 161 likes – probably because of my caption: “I had to photograph this momentous occasion: These are the first flowers this man has given to me since 1998.”  And it was true: Robert had not sent me flowers since Bill Clinton was in office.  I think it was the first time the delivery man brought a gift to someone who was shocked to see her own husband’s name on the card.

But this year, Valentine’s Day already is different because everyone in my house has been sick.  Every.  Single.  Person.  Over the course of four weeks, a virus has worked its way through our family, and just when we think every child is healthy, wham!  Another one gets hit.  I was the last one with symptoms, only mine varied from everyone else’s and felt vaguely familiar … like something I had endured two years ago.  Headache, chills, nausea; my condition deteriorated rapidly.  One trip to the doctor confirmed that I had the flu.  Yep.  Ask me whose name is on the list of Morons Who Had No Good Reason Not to Get a Flu Shot and Didn’t Get One Anyway.  And now, after all the sickness and medication, including the incredibly expensive antiviral drug prescribed to shorten my symptoms, any Valentine’s Day funds we might have had are in the negative.

But seriously, it’s okay, and do you want to know why?  For two days, I was so sick I could not get off the couch, and my husband had to take care of not only me, but also four children, including a fast-crawling baby and a six year old with autism.  My husband will not give me flowers or heart-shaped boxes of chocolates this year, but he did give me plenty of extra blankets, ice water, painkillers, and simple companionship when I just wanted someone nearby.  When I look back on this February years from now, I won’t care about those roses that would have wilted anyway, or those earrings that would have ended up spending most of their time in a box; I will care about the fact that this man loved me enough to take on twice the work and never – not once – complain.

I believe God’s plan for marriage is that it will not always be pretty or fun or personally rewarding.  But if we do what we do for each other in absolute love, it will always be blessed.

Jessie Tucker Mitchell

Jessie Tucker Mitchell graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with Honors in English and Creative Writing. She has written dozens of articles for various publications, including Carolina Alumni Review, Our State, Business North Carolina, Cat Fancy, and babyzone.com. She lives in Winston-Salem with her husband, Robert, and their children Elsa, Truman, Fletcher, and Archer. Fletcher has autism, so autism awareness is an important part of their lives. Jessie and Robert feel incredibly blessed to be members of Reynolda Church.

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