When you lose someone suddenly and unexpectedly, I think it’s a natural response to look back on your life together and wonder if there were signs you should’ve seen that could have warned you. You wonder if there was anything you could have done differently to change what ultimately happened. You start playing the “what if” game.
For me, I know that nothing that Garry or I did or did not do would have changed anything. According to the medical examiner, Garry’s heart was already damaged and his arteries has such severe disease that it was only a matter of time. My sweet husband, so full of life and love and love of life, was destined to be taken early and there was nothing we could do to stop it.
As heartbreaking as that is, it gives me a small peace. Knowing that this was how his story was written, and that I did not do anything wrong (in the beginning I feared that I had not done CPR well enough or called the ambulance fast enough) has given me a small sense of relief that none of this was in my control. Ever. Nor was it in his.
I have often wondered if I had had a crystal ball way back when he and I met, and I looked into that ball and I saw that we would only have just under 10 years to love one another, would I have married him? Would I have started my life with and invested my love in him? Would I have brought these children into the world knowing they would lose their Daddy far too soon?
That’s a really hard question. Honestly, I would give anything to be rid of this pain and have my husband back. But I can’t imagine my life without him now. I can’t imagine my life without my kids…his kids. My life is infinitely more rich and rewarding for having known my husband and I can’t say it would be so without him having been in it.
I do think that God has been preparing me throughout my life for a time such as this. I dealt with a deep and intense heartbreak when I was in my early 20’s. It sent me into a tailspin of depression and bad choices. It took me many years to get over that first love, but I learned a lot about how to move on when you feel your heart has been ripped out of your chest and your life has been turned upside down.
I also have learned how to manage my home and raise my children as a solo parent long before my husband died. Garry had a job that required him to travel overseas at least once a month. For the longest time, I fell apart every time he left. I would have panic attacks and sink into a helpless depression when he was gone. As my children got older and began to notice how I was reacting to his leaving, they began to mimic my response and it was something that broke my heart. I realized suddenly that I had to put on my big girl panties and be strong for my kids when Daddy went away. It took a lot of prayer on my part, but I had finally gotten to a place where I was okay when he left…a little stressed and tired, but okay. It was such a good feeling to get to a place where I didn’t fall apart when he travelled and I was so thankful that God had given me the strength to get through those trips.
From my husband, though, I learned so many things. He himself taught me what genuine kindness looked like. He showed me what hard work and belief in oneself looked like. He believed in me and my gifts and talents more than I believed in myself. He showed me what it felt like to be loved sacrificially and unconditionally, something I thought was only the stuff of fairy tales. I didn’t realize that a woman could feel completely secure in her life and in a man’s love until I knew my husband. I know how lucky I am to have found a man like Garry who loved me the way he did. Not many women can say they’ve known love like that and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
The hardest thing, I have found, is knowing that my kids will not get to grow up with their Daddy by their side. I am doing my best to be at all the Christmas programs and birthday parties and all the other fun things that Daddy would have been at. I put a smile on my face and I cheer louder than everyone else. I make sure they have a good time and laugh and smile. But then we get home and after they’ve gone upstairs to play or go to bed for the night, I fall apart and mourn the loss of their champion. He was such a good dad, the best dad I could’ve ever dreamed or wished for for my children. It kills me that they didn’t have more time with him.
But, at least they had him for a time. At least they got to experience a Daddy that was so involved in their lives and took time off work for every little thing they did. He played with them like a child and gave them his full and undivided attention when he was home. He showed them, in the short time he had with them, how a good dad was supposed to act. In the 2 and 4 years they had with him, he gave them a lifetime of good examples and even better memories.
So, I guess my answer to that hard question is yes, even if I knew our love and life together would be cut far too short, I still would have given him my heart. If I knew that my kids would be left without a Daddy too soon, I would still have wanted them to know him for as long as they had him. If I knew that our love story would end like this, I still would want to live it. Because it was worth it. He was worth it. Even now. It was all worth it.
I can’t even start to imagine what you are going through, I lost my father at a very young age due to genocide and civil war in Rwanda and it is still a missing part in my life but my mom made it her priority to play both mom and dad’s role and it lessened the pain, I pray your pain lessens with time. My sincere condoleances.
This is absolutely heartbreaking and absolutely beautiful. I’m deeply touched by your words, and I’m so glad that you are writing. The paragraph about cheering louder while mourning their champion just stirred something and the tears are flowing. Praise God for such beautiful love.
I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for being transparent about it though so that you can give God the glory. You will see him again one day!
Your strength and positive outlook is inspiring… <3
Sending you and your family my prayers…
Lauren Chandler says
Cheyenne, this post really got me. It echoes the deeply personal and intense question presented in the movie The Arrival (I think it came out early 2017 with Amy Adams & Jeremy Renner) asking the audience “Is love worth it, despite the loss and pain?” I left the theater sobbing. Weeping.
I don’t for a second believe any of this was a part of “God’s plan” – after all, he is a loving and good God right? Death and pain was NEVER a part of God’s original plan for the world, in Eden. But now the world lies in the power of the enemy (1 John 5:19) and it’s a broken place. Only Jesus can fix it, whenever God sends him back to put the broken back together and restore all life, then death will forever be a thing of the past. He can and will creatively bring beauty and new life out of pain and tragedy, for you and your family and also for the world we live in, one day. I pray this for you and and your children all the time. Thank you for your inspiring honesty and rawness with us!
What a beautiful post. I cannot imagine the heartache you and your children and your families are enduring. There is nothing “right” about a young husband and father dying. It’s not supposed to be this way. I am praying for you and your children. And I know that God has not forgotten you or forsaken you. I can imagine there are times you feel as if He has though. My mom has cancer, and she gets weaker by the day. Like you I have days of being very upset with God. I don’t understand why he doesn’t heal her. But like you, I have to remember that His grace is sufficient. We may never know the answer this side of heaven, but I am thankful for salvation and eternity spent with Jesus. My prayers for you and your family continue. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Even in the midst of the storm He never fails.
I’m so incredibly sorry for your loss. My husband has had a heart condition since birth and this is a story I dread having to live far too often. Please accept my condolences and I’m happy that you’ve been able to find some peace, if nothing else, from your reflections.
This is beautiful! Love is worth it! The love you shared was worth it and will be an anchor for your kids’ future. Even though they lost him young, they will grow up knowing he loved them and knowing he loved you. It will be the example they look back on as they grow up and enter into their own relationships.
Thank you so much for sharing
Beautifully written. Your kids will cherish all of these words you are writing one day about your wonderful husband. Prayers to your family during this holiday season.
So very beautiful! Your words brings tears. I couldn’t agree more. It was all worth it! My husband passed away unexpectedly this year from a heart attack, and how I wish desperately he could have been healed. He was the foundation of our family and my son, daughter, and me are left with such a void. Pressing forward in grief to rebuild and not give up, as I know he wouldn’t want that for us.