How bad can bad get?? When your husband dies and then 17 days later you lose power for 5 days, it’s pretty damn bad.
During that horrible time, these were the worst days.
The day that Howie died, October 9, 2011, was unusually hot in N.J. Well, October 26, 2011 was unusually freezing cold and there was a snowstorm. Seriously??? I remember the previous day there was talk of snow in the forecast. But I didn’t take that seriously and I don’t think anyone else did. It was October! I thought it would be cold and maybe a few flurries. No big deal. Boy was I wrong.
It started to snow pretty early and got worse as the day went on. It was really bad out. Trees were falling down on power lines. Amanda went to sleep at a friend’s house and Lily had a friend come to sleep at ours. When Lily’s friend’s father dropped her off he told me that they just lost power in their house.
I worried for a minute but thought that could not possibly happen to me – I’ve had enough bad luck! About ten minutes later guess what? My power went out!!
Once again thankfully I had Caryn and Steve next door. Their power was also out but they called my cell phone and told me to come over so I wouldn’t be alone in the dark. Lily and her friend came with me and hung out with their son since they were all good friends. I sat at Caryn and Steve’s kitchen table with them and drank wine for hours (I needed to drink wine!). The power was not coming back on any time soon and it was getting late. They invited us to all sleep over. I left the girls there because they were actually having fun but I just wanted to be alone in my own bed so I went home to sleep.
So there I was. Truly alone in the dark.
I bundled up in sweats and got into bed with a flashlight and my ipad which was thankfully charged. All I could think was “How the hell did I get here? Three weeks earlier I was a normal happy person with a husband, and lights and heat. What else could life possibly throw at me?” I eventually fell asleep.
When I woke up the next morning the power was still out and they were saying it might take up to a week to come back on. I knew that these were going to be the worst days.
So now what?
Luckily my friend Wendy had power in her neighborhood. I got my kids and we packed up and went to Wendy’s. This wasn’t so bad. Wendy is divorced and also has two daughters who are very close with my girls. I had her guest room to myself and we all hung out for the night.
Sometime the following day Wendy’s power went out also. (I couldn’t make this story up if I tried!). Wendy and I split up and had to try to find new places to stay with power. My friends Randi and Scott offered for us to come stay with them. I was hesitant because they already had two other families staying there (both were good friends of mine also) and I didn’t know if they could or wanted to squeeze us in. They absolutely insisted (once again I will mention my amazing friends) so we went there. The kids all slept in their kids’ rooms together. She had two extra bedrooms but they were already taken. Randi set me up with an air mattress in her basement office.
We were safe and warm and surrounded by friends and I was thankful to be there but I couldn’t have been more miserable.
There were more than a few times that I went down to that basement and cried. I knew that Howie wasn’t coming back but I at least wanted to be in my own house. As much as I love all the people I was there with, it was beyond hard to be living with married couples so soon. What was even harder was seeing the kids with their fathers. It broke my heart. The worst days I could possibly imagine.
The worst days are hard to write about. But since I’m putting it all out there – my first rock bottom moment should be there too. One night the kids were getting ready for bed and the adults were sitting around a table. I heard some yelling and a bunch of them came running down the stairs and Amanda was kinda trailing behind. One of them yelled at me that I needed to tell Amanda that she had to sleep where they were telling her and not where she wanted (I’m still not sure exactly what the situation was).
I just sat there with my mouth hanging open and the adults were all silent.
I looked at Amanda and saw tears in her eyes and then she ran out the door. I screamed something at all of them about how they could be so mean knowing what she was going through, and then followed her out the door (I know kids are kids and they probably didn’t realize they were being hurtful but I was appalled). She was sitting on the steps crying in the cold so I put my arm around her and sat with her. I didn’t ask what happened because it wasn’t important and I really didn’t care. I just sat and cried with her while she said she wanted her dad. So did I.
I remember thinking to myself that this was as bad as it could get. This was rock bottom. These were truly the worst days. I was a homeless widow crying outside in the dark with my daughter. If I could have crawled into a hole at that moment and taken both of my girls with me I would have.
Eventually a couple of the moms and the girls came outside and apologized and said they had fixed the sleeping situation. We thanked them but wanted to stay outside a little longer. Finally we both calmed down and went back inside and she went upstairs with the kids and all was fine, and continued to be for the next few days that we were all living there. They all actually had a lot of fun together. But I will never forget how lost I felt at that moment. That was when I really did not know if I could handle this.
A couple of days later our power was back and I had never been so happy to be in my house.
To this day, I still consider those the worst days.
Stacy was a stay-at-home mom/part-time preschool teacher whose life was turned upside down in 2011 when her husband passed away suddenly of a heart attack. She is raising her two fabulous daughters, now ages 18 and 20, who are turning into wonderful young women. In 2016, she started a blog about her experience as a young widow, The Widow Wears Pink. This led her to write for other publications including Huffington Post, Today.com, Scary Mommy, Grown & Flown, Kveller, Modern Loss, Thought Catalog, and many more. In 2018 she started Living the Second Act with fellow writer Mimi Golub. Today, Stacy and her daughters are happily living their “new normal” while always keeping her husband’s spirit alive.
I am crying reading this beautifully-written, heartfelt description of an awful time in your life. I am beyond impressed by your strength and your decision to share what you went through (and are still going through). I will continue to read your blog and hope others will too! Xo
Stacy, although my husband of 51 years is still alive, he has been in and out of hospitals since November–never home and I have been living alone for eight months now. Visiting him every day.
I had a similar experience when there was a big snow storm in January 2016. The first day no one even went out so I was totally alone and feeling bad I couldn’t get out to visit him. Next day, my neighbors next door came with their whole family and kid’s friends and dug me out for three+ hours. That next day I visited him but as if a major snow storm wasn’t bad enough, a few days later my knee starting hurting soo bad I couldn’t walk. I felt, the same way, this couldn’t be MORE bad luck but it is not going away and is still with me. Once you get over the BIG one like you did, the small ones don’t cripple you (literally) as much and each one does make you stronger but I wonder, when is it ENOUGH???
I also cried over the girls losing their Dad. I lost mine in my 50’s and was a real mess…how could preteen kids deal with it? Why do bad things happen to good people? My only answer is that God wanted them to be up there to help Him……
Be strong and go on with your blog please!!
I’m continually in awe as I read your posts. Thank you again for sharing this intimate and tough time. Xo
I keep hearing “you are much stronger than you realize” as I face each day without my husband….. it’s only been 2 1/2 weeks for me. I hope to be as strong as you in the coming months & years. You truly inspire me & am grateful to you taking the time to share your journey.
Just saw this post, which I believe was written a few years ago.
Unfortunately, my story is quite different and I believe it is because I am a man and most people believe that we move on faster and easier. Not true at all. Like you, the first few months after my wife’s passing was filled with people looking to help out. A number of people included me in gatherings and outings. Others sent food over and some even asked me over for dinner. Over time, that completely dried up and I understood why. People go back to their lives. But what came to bother me was that I was no longer considered part of the group.
As one person put it, I was an “after thought,” the surviving husband who does not have the wife who advocates for him. Events are planned and no one is there to say that we will be joining. Unlike some other men in the same situation, however, I fought back. I called and asked to be included; I made suggestions and even asked people to go out for dinner. Unfortunately, it did not work. Now, I belong to a different universe than these people. So it goes.