It sounds cheesy, but honestly, it’s good advice: Don’t put off telling the people you care about that you love them... because you might not be able to tell them tomorrow. That’s the point underlined by a recent post by Redditor u/Boho_Beagle telling a story about their boss on Valentine’s Day. Posted to the r/TwoXChromosomes subreddit, it’s been moving everyone who’s read it to tears — and with good reason. Even if you’re not really into Valentine’s Day, it’s got an important message — one that's much greater than the sum of its parts.
In u/Boho_Beagle’s story, their boss, who is referred to as “Sarah” (according to a note at the end of the post, her name has been changed), had been single since her previous marriage had ended several decades ago. Not too long after u/Boho_Beagle started working for their company, however — about five years ago — Sarah met someone new and fell deeply in love with him. The feelings were clearly reciprocal, and they got married a few years later.
“You could tell that Sarah was so elated and in love,” wrote u/Boho_Beagle. “She was happier around the office and it seemed that he lit up her world (and I’m sure it was reciprocated). Everyone around the office said they were ‘couple goals’ because of how lovey-dovey they were together.”
But just last week, an announcement went out that Sarah’s husband had died. It happened without warning, said u/Boho_Beagle; he was “in generally good health,” but it seemed he “just had a catastrophic heart attack.” The loss was devastating, although the word can never truly do the feeling justice.
Today, however — Valentine’s Day — something unexpected happened: “This morning, we received a beautiful flower delivery,” said u/Boho_Beagle.It was addressed to Sarah—and it was from her husband. “He had ordered flowers in advance with a sweet note saying how lucky he was to call her his darling wife,” the Redditor wrote.
Oh, my heart.
We hear about stories like this from time to time — stories in which people find notes, messages, and mementos from a loved one after they’ve passed on — and they always, always strike a chord with us. There’s the story of the note found written on the underside of a workbench a man had built for his wife; it read:
“I love you Becca. Whatever day this is, I hope it’s a good one. God truly answered by prayers the day he gave me you. I know that these days are the best I’ll ever have, and I’m glad you’re in them. I’m not sure if you’ll ever see this, but if you do, just know that I love you very much. If there is one thing I want in my life, it is to be as good to you as you are tome. If I can do that, I’ll be the happiest man alive. I love you, beautiful wife.”
The note was discovered after the man passed away from a ruptured artery.
There’s the story of the 6-year-old girl who was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG); after she lost her battle with the tumor, her parents discovered hundreds of notes and drawings she had hidden all over her room for them to find once she was gone.
There was the husband and father who posted a letter on Facebook that his wife had written while she was ill with cancer. In it, she asked everyone in their lives that they not tell her daughter that she was in heaven because, “in her mind, that means I chose to be somewhere else and left her.” She wrote:
“In reality, I did everything I could to be here with her, as there is nowhere, NOWHERE, I would rather be than with her and Jeff. Please don’t confuse her and let her think for one second that is not true. Because, I am not in heaven. I’m here. But no longer in the crappy body that turned against me. My energy, my love, my laughter, those incredible memories, it’s all here with you.”
There was this short but extremely prescient list by Michelle McNamara, which Patton Oswalt discovered when he was preparing to move this past fall:
And there was the woman who pranked her husband by making him promise to keep watering her plants after she was gone. He dutifully did; they continued to look wonderful; and then, he finally realized that they were fake plants. His wife had pulled a fast one on him, letting her sense of humor shine through even after her death.
Sometimes, the messages that are discovered were left by people specifically in preparation for the times when they will no longer be around to comfort their loved ones, while sometimes, they’re simply mementos of the lives they lived. The details are unique to each person and situation — but there’s something universal about them all the same.
That universality, I think, is the reason that these kinds of stories get shared so much: They remind us that “gone” doesn’t mean “lost” — that we can still find vestiges of the people we love in our everyday lives, even if we don’t get to see them or touch them or talk to them face to face anymore. And there’s more: They also remind us not to be shy about telling those we love that we do, in fact, love them — to express that love in ways both big and small, and in ways both spontaneous and planned. Our time on Earth is limited; we never truly know when it will be up. And whether we’re the ones who remain on this planet, or whether we’re the ones who have gone somewhere more ephemeral, we could probably all stand to tell the people we care about how much we love them a little more often, and a little more freely.
We don’t share these stories just for the “emotion porn.” They’re so much more than that. They matter so much more than that — both to the people who are directly involved with them, and to the people who hear about them from afar. The least we can do is take the lessons they teach us and carry them with us as we move forward in this big, wide world of ours.
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. Today, and every day.