The day before my birthday in October of 2018 my husband died. He’d been complaining of shortness of breath for a week or so, but on this day when I went to work , I received the call no wife ever wants to receive. He’d died unexpectedly in the emergency room.  After forty minutes of attempting to resuscitate him, he departed this earth. 

My husband worked out, went to church, and was a well-liked guy. To say his death was a shocking and saddening event for all who knew him is definitely an understatement. My husband was always the coolest guy in the room. He’d make even the grumpiest of people feel at ease. I’d often been one of those grumpy people so his loss affected me on a multitude of levels. But here it is, almost eight months later and I realize that his death has taught me so much about life. 

My last days with him could have been filled with anger, but I loved him and appreciated him even though we saw our life differently. 

1. Love and appreciate the people who are close to you. I had been angry with my husband for a while because I wanted him to move to Los Angeles. He was a DC native and nothing to him was better than the District. But, I wanted him with me and I’d grown tired of hearing about the greatness of Chocolate City. To me, it was time for us to go Hollywood. I’m thankful that when he came to visit me for my birthday that last time, I didn’t think about the anger I’d felt for so long. I talked to him, hugged him, massaged his head and let him know that I loved him. My last days with him could have been filled with anger, but I loved him and appreciated him even though we saw our life differently. 

2. Make as many happy memories as you can. My husband was a vacation person. He, literally, lived for vacation. When I reflect about our time together, I think about beaches, clear blue waters, and fruity drinks with small umbrellas. Sure there were times of arguments and strife but those angry memories are far fewer than all the good ones. 

But, the truth is in all the time we were married, all our bills were paid on time.

3. Remember your loved one’s strengths and positive traits. Every Saturday my husband would sit at the kitchen table and pay bills. Old school style. He’d write checks, put stamps on envelopes. The whole nine. He’d have a pile of envelopes on the floor from all the mail he opened. I would get up on Saturday and walk past him and shake my head. It looked so voluminous. But, the truth is in all the time we were married, all our bills were paid on time. There were never collection calls to our house for ANYTHING. Now as a single mom, I’m motivated by my husband’s desire to make sure all of our bills were paid on time. 

4.  Continue to celebrate your loved one’s life. Not only on holidays or special occasions, but whenever the mood strikes me, I make sure that I do something that reminds me of my husband. Whether that’s cooking his favorite food, or telling a joke that he told our family, celebrating him keeps him close to my heart. It brings back happy memories. Sometimes it even helps me to get over a hurdle or two. 

I stopped thinking about the years that I won’t have with my husband and am grateful for the years I did have.

Me running on Mother’s Day 2019

5. Life is too short to be unhappy.  I know when people heard about my husband’s passing, they were sad for me. But, I stopped thinking about the years that I won’t have with my husband and am grateful for the years I did have. I don’t think about the family occasions that he won’t see but I cherish the ones he did see. While he was alive he made sure he was present in our kid’s lives and that’s something I continue to be happy about. I feel blessed that God crossed our paths when I was only twenty-one and I’m thankful for the other people God has brought into my life since who are a new source of joy and happiness for me. I’ve been sad and I’ve been mourning for several months, but life has brought me new things to be excited about and for that I’m truly happy. 

No one gets through this life without experiencing death. But, to experience loss is a chance for a greater appreciation of life itself. It is through the death of a loved one, that you realize you have really loved. It is through loss that you realize what you had. As Alfred Lord Tennyson once said and this is my motto, “’Tis better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.”