I figured that it’s time that I explain the whole widow thing, but I want to clarify a few things about my writing. First of all, not every post I write will revolve around the loss of my first husband. That was and is a huge part of my life, but I’ve worked hard to not allow that to consume my identity. Secondly, if I do write about my experience of becoming a widow at such a young age, I hope you will read regardless of your experiences. You don’t have to be a widow or widower to “qualify” to read those posts. In fact, it probably would be a great idea for you to read those posts and learn how to be there for people going through such an emotional and sensitive time. I can speak from experience; most people have no idea how to handle that situation. I’ve been a widow and I still struggle to find the right words for people.
That being said, this post is, in fact, about the loss of my first husband and the start of my blog series, “The Widow Chronicles.” You can expect to see a new chapter in The Widow Chronicles once every 3 to 4 weeks. My goal of this series is to share my experiences, offer resources to people going through loss, and offer education to others so that they can better show up for the people in their lives who are experiencing loss.
Let’s start with my story – and don’t worry, I will try to keep this short. I got married to Will in October of 2017. Will and I met in March of 2015 through my cousin, Amanda (wingwoman for life.) Will and I started dating very quickly and we both knew pretty early on that we were supposed to get married. We got engaged in December of 2015 and spent 22 months planning a beautiful wedding. (First piece of advice – 22 months of being engaged is not recommended for those who tend to carry their stress with them every day.)
Will had always had some health issues and we were aware that there would be future operations that he may need if he wanted to have the best quality of life possible. Specifically, we were aware that he had some liver issues and that he would need either (another) liver resection or possibly a transplant at some point in the future. A month after Will and I got married, Will was approved for a transplant and officially put on the list. This meant that we were now living our lives, waiting on a phone call that would change everything. It would mean an invasive surgery, a temporary relocation to the city where his hospital was, a possible loss of income, and heavily relying on the people in our lives to help us through it.
Months passed and this procedure continued to seem further and further away. We were never given any exact dates and were only given estimations of what the doctor thought the timeframe might be. We were under the impression that Will could be on that list from 3 to 6 years before receiving a call for surgery.
We got the first call in June of 2018. We traveled all the way to the hospital where we were told that the liver actually was not a good match and we were sent home. It was this call though, that put us on high alert. We were not ready when we got this call. We had no clean clothes, bags were not packed, nothing. When we got home, we realized that this procedure was much closer than we realized and we began doing things to prepare for the next call.
The next call came on August 1, 2018. This call was the real deal. We were told that the liver was a match and that we needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible. We grabbed our pre-packed bags, threw together our toiletries and a few other things, and hit the road. It was late when we got there – or maybe it was early. Honestly, this is where is all just slows down and gets fuzzy.
We would spend the next 14 days agonizing over the damage done to Will’s body during his liver transplant procedure. That first surgery just didn’t go as planned. I could go on about what happened in that operating room, but I don’t feel like that is my information to share. What I can tell you is that what happened during that procedure was not normal and was not expected. Instead of starting the recovery process of living with a new liver, the doctors spent two weeks trying to put my husband back together. After many failed attempts, the doctors started to prepare us for the worst. Will was fighting, but there was only so much he could do and there came a time where he couldn’t fight anymore.
At that point, there was a decision that had to be made. Will went to be with the Lord on August 15, 2018.
Of course, there is more to this story. All of the hard days in the hospital were accompanied by some good moments. We did get to see little pieces of Will throughout those days. Will was not conscious during this time, but he still managed to blow kisses when we asked him to. Those kisses kept me going. And while the end result was not what we wanted, we all have accepted that Will served an amazing purpose here on Earth and is now celebrating in Heaven.
When I re-read this post for editing, it seems like it all happened so fast when in reality, this was the longest two weeks of my life. I don’t remember sleeping. I don’t remember eating. Those two weeks felt like two years and Will’s bedside became my new home.
I don’t know how to end this blog post, because the experience is not over. I grieve daily. My grief may get smaller over time, but I know that I will carry it with me for the rest of my life. It’s this grief that reminds me of how precious life is and how important it is to show people grace and love. We truly do not know when we will say goodbye for the last time.
I will end with this, for now. Hug your people. Drop your grudges. Say you’re sorry. Offer forgiveness. And love people more than anything else that you do. Life is far too short for anything less.