This is a love story of sorts. One I’ve been longing to share with you, but hesitating, as it still hurts my heart. I pray it reaches into your souls, as it has ours.
About four months ago, my friend Michelle called my husband at work. He manages a large craft and hobby chain store. Do you have buttons…she asked? What kind of buttons, Michelle? Big bags of buttons. Yes, just come on by and I’ll fix you up.
Later that evening, I received a call from hubby. His voice was not normal…and I could tell he was shaken. Do you know where your antique buttons are, he asked? Ummmm …. I can find them. How many do you need? Just a few, he replied. Tell me what’s going on. Here is a paraphrase of what he shared:
Michelle and her oldest daughter are in my store. She wanted to look at the buttons, so I took her to the craft buttons. She and K were looking at them and I asked~ What kind of project are you working on? Silence. It’s kind of morbid, Michelle laughed. She went on to share that her cancer was now stage four. And while she was not giving up the fight, she was preparing for her funeral, just in case the worst happened. She wants to be sure that each person that comes to her service leaves with something from her. Something that they can feel and be reminded of how she touched their lives. When she tells me this, I start bawling and the three of us are huddled and consoling each other. Right smack in the middle of the button aisle. So I asked Michelle~ Would you like some antique buttons, too? She loves that idea, to have some extra special buttons to share with her daughters and close friends, so she’s coming by to see you when they leave here.
I hang up the phone and with little time to compose myself, I gather the buttons and have them waiting on the kitchen counter for Michelle and K’s arrival. I have TONS of buttons. When I was a little girl, buttons were my entertainment when I was supposed to be taking a nap. My button collection has grown quite a bit over the years. I pulled out a handful that I wanted to keep for my kiddos, and sent the rest with Michelle. Before she left, she went through each of my buttons that I had set aside. She slowly touched each one of them before placing them back in the old fruit jar and sealing it. As I walked with her down the sidewalk that night, she reminded me that she was going to keep fighting the cancer. I reminded her that I wanted every single button back.
She took those buttons home, plopped down, and spent a long time going through them. She touched them. She kissed them. She thought about each person that might be holding one some day. She was determined to put herself in each button. She laughed later when she told me how much time she’d spent doing that, and how her hubby couldn’t believe she was taking so long. Michelle was following her heart…..
On December 22, we received the dreaded call. We rushed down the sidewalk to their home, and spent the next few hours praying, crying, and sharing Michelle stories while bent over her bed. To hold the hand of a loved one in life and in death changes you. I believe that somehow you are bound forever.
On the day of Michelle’s memorial service, there, on the center front table, was her big old bowl of buttons. As each person left her service that evening, they chose a button to take home with them. These were Michelle’s buttons of love. Of remembrance. Buttons to remind us to be nice to others, to stand up for ourselves and others, to rescue animals, to love our neighbors, to take time to know God, to live life to its fullest, raise our children right, and to feed the fish every day. Smile. These were her buttons of love and of life.
I can’t think of a better love story than this.
If you ever come to my house…..I’ll have a button for you. Sitting in a big old bowl on the table, by the front door. Sharing Michelle’s love and ours…..just like she would have wanted.