Out of all of my life’s accomplishments, I consider the day I married Dana, my wife of nearly 38 years, to be my greatest one. The sanctity of a real marriage is an accomplishment, a huge event and what an ultimate gift when you find your other half!
One particular morning, while having breakfast at a local Shoney’s, I decided to take a pause to reflect upon my life, past and present; Dana was my love, and without a doubt, my soulmate. When I lost my wife over two years ago, her death left a huge gaping hole in my heart. Needless to say, it has been difficult to conform to a ‘healing timeline,’ you know, the period of grieving that society gives you after you lose a loved one.
My love story began during my junior year of high school. I sat behind this cute girl in English class who although petite had a huge personality! On one particular day, as I snoozed during class (typical behavior of mine since I hated English), the teacher asked this beautiful little angel, who sat in front of me, to turn around and nudge me. As I raised my head, our eyes met and from that point on, my infatuation with this petite cutie began.
Since I was terribly timid, it took a friend of hers to initiate what would eventually be, a lasting match. I am convinced Dana and I were brought together by God. The infatuation soon intensified and was replaced by love; our union felt as if we were one. Dana and I were inseparable, and the love we shared took on purpose, direction and meaning.
Two years after graduating from high school, we married and eventually had four children. We also adopted a family of three young siblings because we had room in our hearts for these children who needed us. We raised all our babies to be loving, responsible and most importantly, God-fearing. Dana and I worked as a team, we shared practically the same mindset and were proud of the family life we had built together. Before we could blink, our children had grown up and were suddenly out of the house. They soon gifted us, however, with grandchildren, 15 in all! Our hearts were full, we were surrounded by love and Dana and I had begun making plans for phase II of our lives. We had such warm and fuzzy dreams of our lives together growing old.
Over two years ago, our love story was suddenly interrupted, it was abrupt, and painful beyond description. My love of 40 years was unexpectedly taken from me, a blood clot had traveled to Dana’s heart and killed her. I didn’t know what to do; I couldn’t think. What I did know is that I did not want to go it alone without my Dana because she had been a part of me for so long.
I was not prepared for Dana being taken away from me; she was only 58-years-young!
I went into denial mode. I thought I was living out a bad dream and wanted someone to wake me up fast! I became angry at God…”Why did you take her from me? This is not fair! Why her! Damn you!” I made bargains with God and begged for another chance.
My pleas went unanswered.
I felt as if life just did not matter anymore. I did not want to go on without Dana, she was my world and now everything seemed bleak. I wanted to join her. There seemed to be no endpoint to my grieving. I muted both my pain and my joy. My children and grands tried to bring joy back into my life, but I was in a dark place with an agony I could not shake. I tried to bring myself out of the depression I was feeling, but could not summon up the strength, so I had to turn to counseling. I was skeptical of having a stranger give me advice about my grieving process, but I was also desperate to join the living again, if only for my family.
The therapist taught me that I needed to put in work to heal. I learned that I would always have some measure of pain from Dana’s death that can plunge me into momentary despair; this is a human response. I might hear a song that will remind me of her and sadden me but then another memory of her will bring me intense joy. Most importantly, I learned that feeling joy after Dana’s death does not diminish my love for her at all. It does the opposite; it honors her.
Today life is worth living again, and I thank God for it daily. I am thankful for my children and grands and the support I’ve received from them. I continue to cherish the memories of the times I shared with Dana that were filled with undying love and happiness.
I have even managed to find love again, one that I feel was sent by God. Loving another person after losing a spouse is not easy because I had to sift through feelings of betrayal, but I know Dana would want me to be happy. I am glad that my lady understands me. She knows that I have been hurt, have sorrows, memories and that there is a part of me that will always deal with my loss. I love her for being accepting and for helping me to move forward with my life.
Today I thank God every day for his mercies and his goodness and for surrounding me with love from all directions. I will always love Dana; a piece of her will forever remain in my heart. I am thankful for my family and newfound love that give me the fuel I need to keep moving through this journey called life.