It was a beautiful Fall day in October, a day like most of the others. But, this day my husband walked out the door and never came home.
He got up early before work to take our dogs for a run in the mountains where we live. He told me he was feeling kind of beat up. He was sore from doing work around the house over the weekend. He took a couple of aspirin and got ready for his morning. But, something was off with one of our dogs. We had two beautiful Dalmatians; Blossom and Bobby. They loved to run. But this day Blossom threw herself on the couch and wouldn't eat her breakfast. She seemed very depressed. I was so worried about her as she was an older dog with health issues. I called out to my husband telling him something was wrong with Blossom. He told me not to worry about it. I left to take our son to school and we called him on the way. He told my son he would pick him up after baseball practice and will try to get there to see the last 15 minutes. On my way back, I called him to ask about Blossom. I said if something is wrong with her please do not put her to sleep without me. He said, "of course not." I called a few times to ask him if Blossom went on the run with him. The next call I received was from my neighbor who put the fireman on the phone. He told me there had been an accident with my husband then, asked if I needed a ride to the hospital. I felt a sick pit in my stomach and I knew something was terribly wrong...terribly wrong. I arrived to the hospital running to the ER begging, "Jesus please, please Jesus, no please!" Yet, I as I pled with God, I knew that I knew it was over. I walked in and saw the paramedic (and ironically a cardiologist I saw the week before.) It was all so strange and surreal. Doctors and nurses started asking me questions. Then I walked in to the room and saw my husband's lifeless body. The doctor said, "we have been working on him for 40 minutes. I need your permission to stop. Look at his eyes. He is gone." She assured me that he went quickly and did not suffer.
And, just like that 25 years of a life together was gone in an instant. There I was with our children in complete shock. They handed me his belongings and I said, "what am I supposed to do now?" I will never forget the silent car ride home.
The following months and years ahead were full of pain, anxiety and challenges I never knew. In an instant I became a widow and single mom of two teenagers with no job, in complete despair. I am grateful for the community of family, friends and neighbors who came alongside of us with unwavering support. But, the hell of grief was mine and mine to face alone. There was my grief and my children's grief. We took turns having horrifically bad days. No one knows how they will act or what they will do under the gripping fear and unbearable pain of grief. While their story is not mine to tell, they were two teenagers suffering grief, trauma and normal high school drama. Need I say more? (I am grateful for sports and coaches that mentored them during this time.) There were trips to the hospital, phone calls I did not know how to answer, bills I didn't know existed and broken things I did not know how to fix. I felt completely powerless. The pain of grief was excruciating. But, I had two children to live for. They became my mission. Through faith, grit and perseverance I...we made a new beginning.
While my story is not "terminally unique" as they say, it is my story and it is still unfolding.
It has been six years since my late husband left so abruptly. In that time, I have reinvented myself. I am a single mom hustling in LA with a day gig and a life coach evenings/weekends. I have taken college classes and got my life coaching certificate. I have traveled. I have loved. I have made new connections and friends. My world view and outlook has changed. My circle got bigger. My children are healthy young adults; one in college and one in graduate school. I am proud of them from surviving to thriving!
Grief is like fallen leaves, what is dead can become nourishment for new life. Grief never ends. There is a space that is empty on all holidays, graduations and special events. It is a pain that never leaves. But, I believe the best thing we can do for our loved ones is to do good. Grief is not moving on, it is moving forward. The pain and lessons learned from death can be used for new life of service, giving hope and encouragement to others.
Before we left my husband at the hospital, we prayed and gave thanks to God for his life. The next prayer was, "Lord please transform me through this tragedy. Use me." I have been left with a message of urgency to share with you; "THE TIME IS NOW!" Whatever you are going through, know that you can heal and begin again. If you are still here there is a plan and purpose for your life.
*This blog is a work in a progress. The story continues with a positive outlook. My name is Jennifer. I am certified life coach. Yes, I took the classes, but most of what I know come from the vault of my experiences. I help people with new beginnings. I started over at 49. If I can do it, so can you!