The journey from grief to joy and the cyclic way it’s impacted my life.
This is a brief synopsis of how my journey has lead me to where I am today. More details and the emotionality of this ride will be shared in separate blog posts.
I married Greg when I was twenty and he was the most handsome man I had ever seen. And as most brides do, I envisioned a long and full life together.
We started our marriage with a bang and had our first child, a son, two years into our marriage, and five plus years later we had our daughter. We were a typical middle class family. Busy with our kids activities, church and trying to learn how to balance it all. We were very much in love and committed to each other. I remember telling him that I never wanted to be married to anyone else – despite our challenges and times that were difficult, I always wanted it to be “us” as we grew old.
Greg was healthy and had no underlying medical conditions that would cause his sudden death. And yet – that didn’t matter. On May 29, 2007 I left home to show property to a client, and Greg was at home and fine – however, when I returned a few hours later – he was unconscious on our patio and our 18-year-old son was giving him CPR and our daughter was in bed asleep. Greg never regained consciousness. He died suddenly and very unexpectedly from a form of arrhythmia.
Life felt like it had been turned upside down and that someone was constantly shaking the ground beneath our feet. And yet somehow, we learned to live without part of our hearts and overcome the shock of sudden death. My kids were 18 and 12 when they became fatherless, and at 40, I entered the widows club. I honestly thought my heart would ache as it did in those early days forever, but I am happy to say that while it will always hurt, my heart did grow and expand, and while I can’t explain it, was able to seek love and find love again.
Fast forward three years and in 2010 I married Don.
We had fun no matter what we were doing (just ask any of our FB friends because we have the selfies to prove it). We traveled, went to Cardinal games, co-wrote an online weekly bible study and laughed – A LOT!!! In October of 2014 Don began having issues with his speech and after six months of every test you can think of, it was determined that he had ALS, which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and is terminal. I can’t even tell you how devastating that was (but will attempt to do so in future blogs). The very thing you think won’t happen again now loomed in our future.
After being home for three days from a three-week long road trip, Don ended up in the hospital with aspiration pneumonia. He was intubated and we spent twelve days in the ICU. We made arrangements to have the tube removed and placed him on a non invasive form of ventilation. He was alert and doing well (by advanced ALS standards). On December 5, 2016 we came home on Hospice care, and sadly, he passed away far sooner than we expected late in the evening on December 6, 2016.
I was decimated and really thought my life had pretty much ended. I had the feeling that life would never be good again, and that all the things I wanted in my future were never going to get to be a part of my story. Unlike when Greg died, I didn’t have kids living at home. I was a 49 year old stay at home mom/wife, except now I had neither and life loomed before me like an expansive ocean that had no end and no one in sight. I felt overwhelming sorrow, heartache and loneliness like I have never known before.
There were several things that I clung to after Don’s passing. First, I knew God would never leave me nor forsake me. Second, I knew from experience, that a heart can expand and embrace new love, and third, that there can be joy after deep and bone aching grief.
I clung to those three truths and pushed forward as hard as I could. As part of that pushing on, I began writing about my journey in a more detailed manner than I had in my FB posts.
So – all of that (and more), led me to begin blogging. Since writing my first blog, I have become a grandmother and have another grand baby on the way in the Spring of 2020. I have given my daughter in marriage and have experienced all the mixed emotions that go with each major life event (and even some very uneventful days). I began dating again and in January of 2018 I meet Jack. We went on what would be our last first date and were married on November 16, 2019.
There are books worth of stories I can tell, and who knows, maybe that’s what my near future will hold. But for now, I am taking some much needed rest and time to honestly reflect on all that has transpired since that horrible night in May, and it’s my hope to commit time each week to writing and to sharing those thoughts with those who wish to walk this journey with me.
Some of these posts will be reflective on the past and others will be more “now” focused. I don’t have a specific plan, other that to do what makes my heart happy and hopefully help others along the way.