Party Crasher

Party Crasher

Jan 22, 2014

Party Crasher

By Renee Sanford

 Milton, Wis.


May 16, 2013. Doug would have been 61. We’d have been married over 30 years.

The day wore on and on. And no one called.

No one posted on Facebook about Doug. My self-talk moved from encouraging, to resigned, to weary, to full-blown out-of-control self-pity.


Doesn’t anyone remember?   Oh, of course they do. They’re just busy. Be patient.

I could call someone. No. No! They should call me. I’ll just wait. Someone will think of him. Someone will think of me. Lots of people care.

Well, if they care so much, they would remember. Couldn’t someone remember me, just once? Just once. Darn it, why do I always cry when I’m emotional?

No one cares. No one remembers. I’m alone in the world. And I always will be. Nobody cares. Nobody understands. Nobody ever will.


01 Inside mime CLR


As the darkness swirled around and within me, I suddenly became aware of the clear sweet voice and presence of the Holy Spirit.




Yes, Beloved. I have a question for you. Why didn’t you invite me to your pity party?

Um… well…

I thought you’d tell me to get a grip and stop feeling sorry for myself?

I didn’t want you to see me like this? I’m ashamed.

I didn’t think you’d want to come.

Beloved, I always want to be with you. I’ll always come. You never need to be ashamed with me. And I already know how you feel.

I guess you do. Thank you for coming. I should have invited you.

Well, your day would have gone better if you had. Now there’s a bit of a problem we have to clear up. Do you realize you have another “guest” here? The Father of Lies. He jumped at the opportunity to come to your pity party and whisper lies to you. And you chose to listen. How about you stop listening to his lies and un-invite him. Now.

Yes, Lord. Lying spirit, be gone, in Jesus’ name.


With that simple request, the long litany of self-pitying lies stopped. The air was cleared and “nobody loves me” stopped.

But still I ached. I still longed to just sit and talk about Doug with someone, anyone, who remembered.


Lord, I don’t know what to do. Forgive me for wallowing in self-pity. And for listening to lies instead of turning to your truth.

You are forgiven, my friend. That’s better, isn’t it? Now, what’s the problem?


And so I poured out my loneliness and the longing to remember.


It’s Doug’s birthday and no one remembers. Well, no one seems to remember. I just want to reminisce with someone and there isn’t anyone. There isn’t anyone who remembers and has the time or inclination to sit with me.

Shhhh. Shhhh. Don’t invite the lies back. I will reminisce with you.


Yes, me. I created, Doug. I love him. I delight in him. I remember more than you can possibly imagine.

Do you remember his crazy haircuts? The perm? The pony tail? The buzz cut? The rat-tail?

Oh, yes, beloved! And I remember his first hair cut as a toddler, too. I remember every hair. I remember how thick his hair was as a young man and how wispy his hair got from the chemo.

Do you remember how he loved fireworks? We’d argue about it every year. We’d get out last year’s leftovers and I’d say we had enough and he’d say we needed more. Then he’d always go out and spend way too much and I’d get prickly. We’d light off fireworks for the whole neighborhood, with buckets of water for the sizzling dead sparklers. Someone would always get burnt and he always had a bandage in his pocket. At the end of the night we’d have more fireworks than we started with. And he’d look sheepish and I’d say, guess it’s just like last year. And he’d say, “Probably be the same next year.”

I remember! I remember every sparkler, and every smile on every child’s face. He loved fireworks. I love that sheepish grin of his.

I remember when he met you and realized you were my gift to him. He’d given up on finding a partner and he found you. I remember how he shared the good news with you and brought you into the family of God.

I remember the joy when I joined you two together and how your daughter left half-way through the wedding because she thought it was time to go to Sabbath School. You found her playing quietly in the nursery, remember?

I remember! Thank you, Lord, for giving us to each other. And for giving my daughter such a loving father. I can never thank you enough for all the blessings.


Do you remember how he loved to make popovers?

I remember!  I remember how he drove you crazy with his food phases. How he’d eat the same thing three times a day for a week. How he’d eat all the meat out of the stew you were planning for three meals.

You remember that? You remember how angry I was?

I remember. And it’s time you forgave him for that, you know. I’ve forgiven you for much greater things.

Doug, I forgive you for taking more than your fair share of the good parts of the stew. And I’m sorry for all the anger and resentment I’ve been harboring. Lord, forgive me for being so insistent on getting my fair share and for not finding a better way to handle it.

You are forgiven, dear one.


Do you remember his 56 shirt?

Oh my. It was old when we met. With holes everywhere. It got more and more ragged but he wouldn’t throw it out. His clothes when we first met, I remember those too. What a relief when I found out he was color-blind—I thought he just had bad taste!

Remember what you did for him? Getting everything in navy, gray and maroon so he could never get it wrong? The first time he realized you loved him?

No, no I missed that.

The first time he knew you loved him was when he came to visit and found you had put little white dots on the checkers so he could tell the red pieces from the black ones without squinting.
He knew that day.

I never knew that. I wish he’d been able to tell me.


Do you remember the year it was so cold that Doug disconnected the car batteries each night and brought them inside to keep warm and then reinstalled them in the morning?

I remember. I remember how you would put his clothes in the dryer in the morning so he would be extra warm before going out in the cold.

Do you remember how much laughter there was in your home? Remember being so poor the first year you were married that you wrapped up the groceries and put them under the Christmas tree?

Yes! That started a family tradition that still continues – of crazy practical gifts like scouring pads, and batteries and paper towels. Thank you for making us a family.

Remember the day you pushed Doug to write his first worship service? He never would have put himself forward. He glorified me for twenty years with those beautiful services of praise. You both did well. 

I wish I hadn’t shut him out. I have so many regrets, Lord. We were cruel to each other.

Yes you were. You hardened your hearts and missed a lot of joy. But that’s over now. Don’t dwell on it. He isn’t. I’m not. Remember the praise and the glory.


Do you remember us studying your Word together where Jesus says that we should forgive each other not seven times but seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22)? And how Doug and I did the math and concluded that 490 times wasn’t nearly enough. Given our rocky relationship we’d need a LOT more than that. We thought of using 707, but that was only 8,235,430,000,000. Probably not enough, we said. So we finally agreed to forgive each other 770 times, which is 143,503,601,609,868,434,285,603,076,356,671,071,740,077,383,739,246,066,639,249 times.

Do you remember how on really annoying days I’d tell Doug I was deducting another 1,000,000 from the total? Somehow it made us laugh and made me feel better. And it didn’t make a dent in the total. I still have that number written down on my desk top.

I remember. It’s actually a pretty good picture of my infinite mercy. It gave me joy to see you two laughing together.

I wish we’d done that more.

So do I.


I don’t know how long we reminisced together—an hour or more at least.

He brought to my mind incidents and details I had forgotten. Big memories like the birth of our children. Small memories like picking dandelions and playing rock/paper/scissors to decide who cleaned the cat pan.

He helped me recall things to be thankful for and things to repent of. We shared joys and sorrows, laughter and tears. He comforted me and opened my eyes to a new way to spend time with Him.

It had never occurred to me that the creator of the universe, the creator of Doug, the creator of me, would like to remember Doug with me. I had poured out my grief and regret to Him before. He had comforted me and dried my tears before. But this was different.

This was just the two of us, remembering someone we both loved, someone who had brought us joy and pain. Someone we both want to spend eternity with.

It was a sweet time, a beautiful time. No one can remember our loved ones like the Lord. He loves them so much.

He delights in His creation. He delights in them. He wants us to remember them. And, as astonishing as it seems, He wants to spend time with us remembering them.

I asked Kevin if I could write this for the Recorder because I thought others who are grieving, who miss someone, might be helped by my experience and consider inviting the Lord to a “remembrance party.” He will come.


Lord? Thank you for coming and changing my party from pity to praise. Thank you for meeting my need before I even had words for it.

I love you, dear heart.

I love you, too.

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