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Does it have to take a tragedy for some people to love the life they have right now? I'm sorry to say that's what did it for me. It took the death of an incredible man, husband, and father to make me love more purely what's right in front of me.  I'm not proud of this, but it's the truth. My husband? He loved his life before he got sick. There are plenty of people just like him. But I was not one of them. So please forgive the rant I'm about to make. This is not a holier than thou speech. Because if you ever feel like you're dissatisfied too much, or complain too much, or aren't as happy as you should be, or feel stuck or purposeless, well, I can relate. I used to feel like that too often too, until I lost my husband and the dream of growing old with him, parenting our kids together, and pursuing our new life, as just a couple on our own after the kids grew up.

Sometimes we young widows and widowers just want to shake the rest of you with your intact families, your healthy spouses, your regular routines, and a big old list of complaints. Here's what we want to shout through a big megaphone:

This is it folks. This is what the good life is:  your to-do list, your kids who are great sometimes and annoying other times, your professional or domestic work, your vacations, your family trips in the car, your driving the kids around to their activities and sitting on the side of soccer or baseball fields, having your spouse there to help you, helping your spouse, the books you read, your warm home, your friends and neighbors, your plans for your children's or your own continuing education, your pets, the trees outside your house, your garden, your dreams for new possibilities, enjoying or making art or music, volunteering your time, your body that can walk and run and stretch...that's what the good life is. It doesn't get better than that even if you're stinking rich or scary smart or imagine you could be doing something different, there's really nothing better than what's you've got right in front of you this minute, so enjoy it. Because there's no guarantee it will be the same tomorrow. In fact, it's all going to change, repeatedly.

As soon as I realized I could never replace my old great life, I made a commitment to myself that I would do my very best to remember how lucky I am right now. There is nothing better I could be doing right now and I am excited and open to finding out what's going to happen next.

When the worst happens, like it did to me, I gained the freedom of knowing that I can survive anything. When Ken died at 52 years of age with so much left to give to his family, friends and profession, I felt an imperative to love the life I have, that I'm lucky to have.

As a young widow, I would love you to know this without your having to lose anything at all. I wish I had figured it out sooner.

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Comment by loveliveson on June 10, 2011 at 10:11pm
You are so right!  Thank you for the reminder.
Comment by Momtofour on April 24, 2011 at 2:49pm
Jill, i've thought the same way too...regarding your last sentence.  In a way, his death was a catalyst for me.  It changed me in more ways that I can even realize.  I am such a different person now than I was 19 months ago, it even surprises myself.  I know he would love the new me just as much as the old...i just wish he had gotten a chance to "meet" me.  We were married for 10 years and it took his death to make me this person :(
Comment by Jill on April 24, 2011 at 2:36pm

Thanks for your kind replies everyone. I have had these thoughts for a long time now (my husband died 5 years ago), and I finally was able to put them to words. I had a really good marriage, and my husband was the absolute highlight of my life...I put him even on a bit of a pedestal because he was so good and kind and such a great fit for me...but one regret I have is that he couldn't know the me I've become since, and because, he died.


Comment by Numb Claudia on April 24, 2011 at 1:20pm
Thank You.....I feel so much like this!!!!
Comment by Abby on April 24, 2011 at 12:10pm

What you said is so true Jill. I would not have been able to relate to what you said before I lost my husband. What I would not do to get him back? When I see other couples just going through the motions with no appreciation of each other, it makes me sad and angry. Have they learnt nothing from my loss?  Do they all think they are invincible and will never die. I certainly always thought I would go before my husband and we used to joke about it. I wish now that I had been right and that I was the first to go. I am so deeply saddened by his loss and the giant hole that has been left in my heart/life that should I ever have the desire to be in a relationship again, I will cherish each and every moment. Right now, it seems that I will spend the rest of my alone honouring my husband's life and memory.  Right now the thought of another man is just not on the horizon. Thank you for such a great read.  Abby


Comment by Momtofour on April 24, 2011 at 10:02am
Great Post Jill! I feel the exact same way as you do.  I've wanted to knock some sense into some people before,, but sometimes they just don't get it.  Don't ever take anything for granted, because you NEVER know when it will be taken away from you.  I loved fiercely when i was still married to my husband, and I love even more fiercely now because I know it can be taken away in an instant.  Just one second and everything you knew, dreamed about...its gone.

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