Sunday, April 25, 2010


My family began battling cancer in 2003 when my mother-in-law was diagnosed with colon cancer. Five years later my wife, who was pregnant with our third child, was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. Despite a valiant fight, cancer claimed the life of mother-in-law on April 18th and of my wife on July 23rd. I am now raising three girls all under the age of ten. It's a constant battle between my feelings of misery about the devastating losses in my life, and the gratitude I feel for the gift of three amazing daughters who need me now more than ever. This is my challenge, and these are my thoughts.

I was simply moving stuff out of the basement. It’s time to move. The house is too big for us without Lisa. It’s just me and the kids. The cost is too high, it’s too much to clean, and I don’t have that many hours left in the day to take care of everything that needs to be done here. I need a smaller, less expensive, easier to clean house.

I bring up an old air conditioner from the basement (how long has that been down there). I walk back downstairs to get more junk (is this project going to take me all day?), and grab a broken lamp to bring back up (this lamp use to be in our bedroom. Is she really gone?). Put the lamp next to the front door, pause and take a look around the house (what is going on here, why the emotion, am I really going to miss this place, there is so much sadness associated here I want to leave, don’t I?). Back downstairs again and grab the box of Holiday decorations (ah crap, this is getting difficult, I didn’t expect this. Keep moving Matt, too much work to do today). Place the box next to the lamp and now the emotion is on me like a wet blanket (It’s official. I am starting to rebuild my life. I’m scared). I sit down on the box and breakdown.

I did what I could for 2 years. I tried to keep things as routine as possible for as long as possible. I did it for the girls. I could tell that it wasn’t so much that they lost their Mother. It was “How will my life change?” “What chaos is in store for us Dad?” So for 2 years, I kept the chaos away. I kept living in a house that was too big for us; taking care of a house that is too much for me to clean; paying bills on a house that is more than a now single income family can afford. For 2 years I blocked the inevitable.

But the time has come. This is the first major step. I am starting to rebuild my life. And it’s a horrible feeling.


  1. This really resonates with me. Only two months after my husband died, I'm faced with leaving the apartment we shared together. I simply can't afford to stay here. Every time I start to sort through his/our/my things, I break down. It's not going to be easy. But it helps to find people who are walking this same dark path, so I thank you for sharing.

  2. When I moved three years ago, I had to go through everything I shoved in the basement over the course of several years b/c out of sight was easier on the mind. Eventually, everything has to be dealt with and it does hurt. You will get through it. You will rebuild. Establish new routines. It'll be okay. Things do get better.

  3. I am thinking of moving too, its been 13 months since I lost my husband. I can't bear the thought of going through his stuff. My mother-in-law has offered, but I don't want anyone else to go through his stuff either. What will I do? I hope I will eventually be able to "deal" with it too. Thank you for sharing.

  4. What resonates with me is the idea of keeping things the same for the kids and worrying about how the inevitable change will affect them. I have remained a stay-at-home mom since my husband died a year ago, but the time approaches when I will have to return to work full time. How will I cope? How will my kids respond? I am both frightened and excited by the possibilities that lay before me.