Monday, November 28, 2011

Chapter Two

 I now divide my life into two chapters.

Chapter one began when I met Dave. My life path suddenly became clear with him. I felt really safe and loved for the first time. My grades in college improved, the lifelong battle I'd had with insomnia disappeared. I moved across the country to be with this man who turned my world around.

We spent nearly 7 years living in "sin" and 8 properly married. We chose to have no kids. We liked the little cocoon of our life and didn't want anything to compromise our time together.

My future seemed clear. Easy. I actually recall saying "I wish more exciting stuff happened to me!".

On May 28, 2011, my otherwise healthy husband felt like he had the flu. Six days later, on June 4, 2011, a doctor told me he was gone. The days, hours and minutes in between are a hell it still physically hurts to recall. We had no idea he wouldn't be coming home after this bout with myocarditis. Some of his last words to me involved where he wanted to be - the couch with me and our 2 cats he adored. He never made it home. His heart stopped. I didn't get to say goodbye.

The earth shifted under my feet that day. The first beautiful day of summer.  He was 38. I was 35.

The pain of the first days after he died is still indescribable. It's good we forget a lot from the shock. My closest friends who witnessed every moment say it is something they wish to erase from their memories.

That was the beginning of the second chapter of my life. My life without Dave.

Two months after that day I hauled my broken self to Camp Widow in San Diego. I had exhaustively searched the internet for resources for widows. The way I dealt with my grief was to shore myself up with knowledge. I wanted to know about other widows. What they did, how they coped, where they were. I found the Soaring Spirits webpage and the link for Camp. Deciding to go changed my (new) life. I was surrounded by strong, resilient widowed people. My heroes. Something shifted in my mind for the first time. I realized I was a hero too. I was stronger than I ever thought possible. Michele, especially, showed me what's possible when you use your pain as fuel to make change.  My name badge that weekend became a badge of honor, and I treasure it. I made lifelong friends that weekend.

As I forge ahead in this journey, I am not walking alone. I am surrounded by the spirit of these people I share this journey with. I am surrounded by the love Dave showered on me. And I am learning to take care of myself. 

When Dave died I was pushed into this new world unwillingly. It turns out I can survive the worst life has to offer. I can still find parts of life to love and to be thankful for. I have so much less fear now than in Chapter One. The worst happened. I survived.

I value every minute I'm afforded now, more than ever. Time is a gift and his death was the hard way to learn this, but learn it I did. Thoroughly.

I also learned that beauty comes with tragedy. The love and devotion my friends showed me and the strength I've found within myself are painfully beautiful. Love and loss, pain and beauty. Never one without the other.

As I move through the 6th month of my second life, my Chapter Two, I am so grateful to have my widowed community. Coming to this site and reading the entries written by these incredible people has been a survival essential for me.

And now, I get to write for this site and I'm so honored to get the chance to share Chapter Two with my "people".


  1. Cassie, my heart goes out to you! I remember those painful days in the first year.There still is hurt and lost in the 2nd year, but as you said the widows who write here help us to see there is hope and you will survive. There was no place to go for me a young widow as you are. This blog has been a God send to me also! I thank God for it every day!

  2. What a strong woman! Your strength will touch so many others today and we all thank you for willing to put yourself out here.

  3. Thank you Cassie, your posting today will help so many others that are 0-6 months and beyond. Beyond is what we get to recreate. So glad you made it to widows camp so early on the ride not one of us planned and bought a ticket for. (((HUGS)))

  4. Welcome! I am so glad there will be a blogger that fits into my "widow category". Young, no children, married for longer than 5 years and a "Wow, didn't see that one coming" tragedy that changed EVERYTHING. My husband was in an oxygen explosion and survived 75 days. He was 39.

  5. Welcome, Cassie. It goes without saying ... that I'm sorry you're hear .... but I'm glad that you are, too. Thank you for your voice. Thank you for the strength you're sharing. I am also "one who didn't see it coming", but no story is the same, no relationship is the same. We are all so totally different.
    And so totally similar.
    And it is beautiful.
    I'm glad you're here .... mostly.

  6. Sao glad you are here. I didn't see it coming either. Going on 19 months. Raising 4 kids. God has provided though. Money is not really a problem. Kids have all adjusted as well as possible. I have met someone and it's been great I must admit. I still miss what we had and what my kids are missing, especially my 6 year old. Looking forward to reading your posts.

  7. Hi Cassie,
    We met at Camp Widow. I remember your smile and your story. It is wonderful that you will be sharing your journey with us. I recall thinking about our beloved Tim died 18 days after his cancer diagnosis and we did not have we all shared our stories with other widows/widowers over glasses of wine. I believe I recall that you and Dave loved to did Tim and I. As Janine said, we all have different stories but we are so fortunate to have a place for empathic sharing and comfort in numbers. I look forward to reading your wisdom as it unfolds. Hope to see you at Camp East 2012!

  8. My story wasn't about a sudden, unexpected death, but as they say, one can never prepare. The shock of it when it happens makes your brain explode. You're right in that it teaches one to value each day. Having lost a parent in childhood, I learned that lesson early on, and have valued the journey, always knowing what loss is and the finality of it. Ironically, my childhood tragedy taught me not to sweat the small stuff as an adult, and I am grateful that I have no regrets to ruminate about during my marriage. It was full circle, and I'm grateful for that. Death teaches us the beauty of life, and to be grateful every day that we wake up in the morning, and for every small grace that we are given. I have experienced much heartbreak, at times more than I thought I could bear, but my morning prayers everyday are of gratitude and asking for forgiveness for my sins and weaknesses. We are very blessed in many ways, despite our circumstances. Rock on.

  9. "My future seemed clear".
    Didn't we all think life as we knew it was all that it was about? How little did we know about this other "widow/widower" world until we were thrust into it. I, too, do not think I would be where I am today without this site and all of the writers and comments posted.

    Thank you, Cassie, for becoming one of them. And thanks to all the others every day of every week.

  10. Cassie,

    Our stories are so similar, my heart was racing when I read your post. My husband died suddenly of myocarditis and vasculitis in April 28th, 2010. Woke up one morning, didn't feel great, but went to work and collapsed on his way in. I said goodbye to him like normal and less than two hours later I saw him dead in the hospital. He was 30, I was 28. We didn't have kids.

    I am a bit further on this journey than you time wise, but I can empathize with all you have said.

    Take care,