As she walked arm-in-arm with this good-hearted man, she wondered

“Was she ready?

What would people think?

What would her children think?”

Love After Loss

Jack

The Lottery Ticket

She already knew what Jack would think. Jack had abandoned her unexpectedly. It still seems surreal that a family can be ripped apart forever in a span of 15 minutes. She told him to stay home that night, but he insisted on picking up a gallon of milk. She knew the real reason he wanted to go out. The Powerball was up to 400 million, and Jack couldn’t resist a big pot. As he tugged on his boots, he looked up and smiled mischievously as his eyes crinkled at the edges.

“Don’t worry, babe. I’ll be right back.”

She could hear the siren’s high-pitched scream over the crackling of twisting flames in the fireplace. Jack knew she loved a fire on an especially frigid, winter night. After the kids went to bed, they would take their normal positions on the couch. She’d be at one end, and he’d be at the other–their legs entwined with a shared blanket and bag of pretzels between them. She wasn’t sure if it were intuition or the strong connection they forged from the first day they met in high school, but she knew something was wrong.

Bon Jovi’s Never Say Goodbye

Bon Jovi’s Never Say Goodbye sang out from her phone. Jack would enthusiastically sing her the ballad in his off-key voice whenever she got mad at him. At first, she tried to ignore him, but he would follow her like a desperate, hound dog seeking attention. Then, he would look at her with those irresistible, twinkling eyes. She would undoubtedly end up giggling and wrapped in his arms by the last verse. Normally, she loved it when her phone called out to her. It reminded her to let go of the small annoyances in life and have hope that even bigger challenges could be overcome. She and Jack had married young, and they’d had their share of disagreements both big and small. She hesitantly picked up the phone, then sank to her knees. Her intuition had been right.

Loving After Loss

After Jack’s Death

The next year slowly seeped by. Each day was like a drop of water that languidly forms at the head of a leaky faucet, and slowly releases before splattering on the unforgiving surface below. Her mind was as distorted as her image in the broken bathroom mirror. A few days after Jack’s death, she’d thrown a brush and delighted at the sound of breaking glass. She’d never bothered to replace it. She felt dead and numb and shattered like that stupid mirror.

She could see that her kids were suffering. The house was quiet and somber. The laughter that once reverberated throughout the small dwelling was replaced with heavy silence. It seemed like they walked with invisible bricks strapped to their backs. They were doing hard time, but no crime had been committed. If she didn’t make an effort to engage back into life, she knew the weight of those bricks would crush them.

Suggested Read: Parenting Through Grief and Children’s Grief Awareness Day: Supporting Children At Each Stage Of Development

Joining a Widows’ Group

She made a decision to join a widows’ group and began to see a therapist. It was pointed out that Jack would want her to live her best life, not only for herself, but for their children. Purging pent up emotions that included anger at Jack for leaving her and grief for a life that turned out differently than she planned was exhausting, but necessary. After her meetings, she always felt a little better. Before long, feeling a “little better” seemed to multiply exponentially with each counseling visit or group session. She remembers the day distinctly. It was 18 months post-Jack, and suddenly she felt herself.

Suggested Read: Coping With The Death Of A Spouse and Living After Loss – The New Normal

Loving After Loss

Celebrating Jack

It had been so long; she didn’t want that feeling to slip away. She made a conscious decision to take care of herself, spend time with friends, plan fun activities with her children, and celebrate the life of her husband. Jack had always wanted the children to grow up with a dog. They rescued a lab mix from the Humane Society and named him Second Chance. Chance loved the kids, and they loved him. She planted an oak tree in their backyard. As a child, Jack collected acorns from the tree in front of his grandmother’s house. There was something about the smooth rounded end and funny looking cap that enamored him. He’d pretend each of those bumpy, brown capped acorns was a person offering him a unique piece of wisdom. He got a kick out of walking around with a pocket full of wisdom. She couldn’t wait for the tree to produce its first acorn. By then, she could share the story with her grandchildren.

Two Year Anniversary

On the second year anniversary of his death, she gathered up Chance and her two kids. They all tumbled into the car. She promised the kids they could pick their favorite candy from the local corner store. Her true intention was to buy a lottery ticket. Ironically, the jackpot was $400 million, and it was her way of saying, “I forgive you” to Jack.

While the kids excitedly mulled over their sweet choices, she picked Jack’s numbers. She methodically filled in the round circles with numbers representing their wedding anniversary and children’s birthdays. Tears began gathering at the corners of her eyes. A single, lost tear escaped creating a wet path down her cheek.

Suggested Read: Honoring your Loved One on the Anniversary Date

David

She felt the pressure of a light tap to her shoulder. She looked up and into the indigo eyes of a face she struggled to recognize.

“Sandra, is that you?” a familiar voice questioned as he offered her a tissue.

“It’s me, David. Remember, we worked together about ten years ago. How are you?”

She gently soaked up her tears with the tissue and replied, “I’m good…very, very good. How are you?”

His hair had grayed, but he still had that captivating, charismatic grin that could magnetize an entire room.

Sandra didn’t win the lottery that night; however, Jack gifted her with something even greater.