Crystle’s Cup

I am fortunate that I am able to continue volunteering at hospice during the pandemic. Most of the administration and support staff are working from home. Many volunteers are also staying home. 

The Hospice Niagara communications team is working hard to keep us all connected while we are apart. Each week they produce a newsletter and we are all asked to share a picture and a brief story on a given topic. We have shared recipes, music lists, and much more.

This week the topic is our go-to coffee mug. That is an easy choice for me. The difficult part was that we were asked to use just one word to describe what my cup means to us. I chose wife for my one word; but I wanted to share more. So I have taken to my blog to expand on that single word.

There are so many layers in my choice of the word wife as the lone descriptor for my cup. It feels like peeling an onion. The first and most obvious reason is the fact that this was Crystle’s favourite cup (mug). Crystle was a coffee fanatic. She never started a day without coffee, and I made sure she was always supplied with caffeine. Black coffee. As long as I can remember, Crystle has consumed her coffee naked—the coffee, of course. Her coffee was always naked. No cream. No sugar. 

Now, take, look at the cup. Flowers. Crystle loved flowers. This time of year we would be off to the garden centres to purchase flowers for the outside of the house. She planted annuals and created her own planters for our deck. We had lilacs, hydrangeas, and hyacinths in our back yard. That was never enough, she always wanted a bouquet of fresh flowers in our home.

The colour. The handle and trim on this cup are red. Hands down Crystle’s favourite colour. Another reason to enjoy this cup.

I have saved the best memory for last. Like most women, Crystle loved to shop. She preferred to shop alone because she often had nothing on her list but was ever in search of an amazing bargain. She would spends hours wandering though shops. Much of her shopping was for her beloved family and friends. She would seldom purchase anything for herself at full price. 

I happened to be with her the day she spotted this cup in one of the wineries here in Niagara. It was NOT on sale. And, it was the only one. She picked it up, looked at the price and put it back. She walked around the gift area and ended up back at the cup. Still not on sale. I am certain they suspected she was going to try to shoplift the cup. I finally convinced her to splurge on herself. She giggled. She smiled and the entire room lit up. We took the cup home with us.

There can be no doubt why this is my go-to cup. It’s not full of sadness, it is full of love.

The River

Today is a day in which I find myself uncertain of how I want to feel. It was two years ago today that Crystle passed away. As I write those words, even now, it seems surreal. How can she be gone?

Yesterday, I went to her grave with Val, Kevin and Quinn. They brought red roses to remember their special mother and grandmother. We didn’t tarry—we all believe the grave is a simple memorial. Only Crystle’s ashes are there; she still lives within our hearts.

I have received texts from Crystle’s family and her friends. It warms my heart to know how much she is loved—and to think that she loved me. What a lucky man to have spent almost forty years of my life with Crystle!

I recently read the story of a monk who went to Heaven. He was met by an angel who welcomed him but told the monk that it was not yet his time and he would have to return to Earth. But before the he went back the angel showed him the splendor of Heaven. At one point they were crossing a long bridge the passed over a turbulent river. The angel told the monk that the river was swollen by the tears of lamentation shed by the living for those departed.

Before the monk returned to Earth, the angel said to the monk, “Tell the world upon your return that, when you are in the world, make no lamentation and weeping without cause, because it creates more difficulty and harm to the souls of your departed loved ones.”

I love this story. The angel doesn’t say that I cannot be sad; nor does he say I cannot shed a tear at those times when a memory of Crystle overwhelms me. I can assure you I will be shedding tears in the future—I just won’t allow myself to linger in those places.

I don’t think I will cry today, but the day is young. Whatever emotions may come my way, I will accept them with gratitude. For I know that whenever I am overcome by tears, it is because I lived a wonderful life with a beautiful woman.