Steve died 11 years ago – 11 beautiful and brutal years ago

Steven died 11 years ago today and, oddly enough, this is the first time that November 9th has fallen on the actual day of the week that he died since then. That used to bug me on the anniversary; that yes, it’s the 9th, but it was a Thursday morning that our world transformed. It was trash day, the girls were off school because of Veterans Day. It’s finally a Thursday but it doesn’t seem to matter like I thought it would. Any day of the week, and we still are remembering this complicated, handsome, smart, funny, loving man that left this world way earlier than should be allowed. We are still remembering the days leading up to his death, days that were full of happiness and hope. Days that were just ordinary days for the most part, full of routine and the normal day to day activities of a family of four. I look back at those days with gratitude for all the “beautiful ordinary” that I was blessed with. I often think about the suddenness of his death and if it would have been better to know it was coming. I’m glad we didn’t know. As terrifying as that instant that changed everything was, so much was good and happy and ordinary leading up to it – I think that stability helped to keep me standing thru the crazy that followed. And it doesn’t matter – there’s no changing it. I know that given a choice, he’d have wanted nothing different. I think – if he had to go  – this is exactly how he would have designed it. 

He is walking right next to us and has been since those first moments. I’m confident that he has been praying for all of us unceasingly and has been watching and helping along the way, however he’s able. I know he was sad to go, if sadness is an emotion in heaven, but I know he left knowing I could “do it.” He always said that I was “from the old country”, a fighter, a survivor, a pillar. He knew I was strong and that I could face most any challenge and make it work. He’d walked thru a lot of trials in life with me by his side and watched me take on more than I should. He often told friends and family that I not only changed his life, but that I saved his life. He saved his own life, but I lost years of my own supporting him thru it – and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I was so proud of the man he had become and I still am. He saw all of the possibility in this world and all the potential that was out there and grabbed it by the balls. He wanted abundance and he manifested it, for himself and for his family. It was so powerful to watch, and as much as he learned from me, I need to look back at the way that he created the life he wanted and went for it, and learn from him. Sure, he had fear and anxiety around it – and he had me 😉 – but he did it. He believed. In himself – and that is really saying something. Because his youth was tough – a lot of that toughness was self-imposed – but tough nonetheless. He overcame so much and developed a belief system that really worked. With the help of the Big Book and support of amazing friends and family – he transformed and was proud of himself, of me, of the family we created. He’s still proud of me and he is his children’s loving guardian angel. 

So much has changed since he died – if he was to show up today for a visit, his head would spin. If I had an hour with him, what would I tell him, what would I share, what’s new?

– We have a Senior in high school. Maggie was in 1st grade when he died and has grown into a compassionate, smart, beautiful young woman. She’s passionate and spirited and loves music just like he did. He’d love it.

– We have a Freshman in high school. Melissa was in preschool when he died. She is funny, gorgeous, smart and could out dance him. He was a hell of a dancer in the 80’s but she’s lapped him. Watching her dance makes me smile so big. He’d love it.

– We have a 10 year old. Hope was not born yet when he died. She was so new on the 9th that I didn’t even know she was on her way. I was pregnant for nine months without him. She is amazing, adorable, gifted in loving, has the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met, and is hilarious. He’d love it.

– I’ve had many, many jobs, trying to find a balance between what I can manage and what we need. I’ve worked for a mortgage company, a family grief support center, a school, Amazon, a homeless shelter, a lice removal company, a recreational cannabis company selling pot)a favorite position), relocation coordination company, a seller of all things on Craigslist, secretly “shopped” new home communities with a hidden camera and all, even was a nanny (for one day) and more. Today, I’m trying to figure out what’s next. He’d love it.

– We have 2 dogs. I don’t know if he’d love that. Most days I don’t love them but they have brought a lot of love to us.

– I’ve been in relationships with 3 great men and have been loved beyond measure by them. Each one has been so different and each one has brought different gifts into my life. I have also had my heart decimated by one. No matter what, he’d be glad that I had love in my life and men that saw what he saw in me – and then some. He’d love it.

– I’ve moved from the house we lived in when he died to where we are now. Moving was tough, leaving behind the house where he lived with us. So many memories there, even though we only lived there for 16 months before he died. Moving felt good too though. It was almost like a weight was lifted to be in a place he’d never been, a place that wasn’t full of memories. This house has a room for each of us, a little more space and amazing community fillec with friends. He’d love it.

So much is different about me. His death, and the following years and experiences, transformed me. I am a strong woman, but these years have beaten the hell out of me. I can talk about all the good and all the amazing and all the miraculous. And there has been so much of that and good lord I am so grateful for all of it. But I can also speak to depression, anxiety, sobbing in bed at 3 a.m., fear, desperation, isolation, struggle, abandonment, deep disappointment and excruciating hurt. I can speak to walking my children thru many surgeries, illnesses, syndromes, mental health issues, learning disabilities, traumas, car accidents, deaths – alone. All alone. Just me to figure it all out and make it OK.

When Steve died 11 years ago, I used to say “We’re going to be OK. It’s all going to work out. I don’t know how, and I can’t see it, but I know it’s all going to be OK.” And it is. My kids are wonderful and resilient as hell. Each one has suffered more in their short lives than is fair. I cannot wait to see what they do with their lives and what their children do. I’m certain that they will do great things, be great mothers and be a blessing to this world. I don’t know what I meant by “OK” when I used to say it. I don’t think  my version of “OK” resembled what my life has looked like the last few months, but I am still “OK”. We all are. He’d love it ❤️

The night we met Bruce Springsteen and watched the concert from the stage, they performed this song, exactly like this – it was just a few nights prior to this show in NYC. Steve held me from behind and we breathed this song in, a singular experience. Magic. I know we’re still walking together hand in hand, even if I’ve fallen behind. He’s waiting for me.

36 thoughts on “Steve died 11 years ago – 11 beautiful and brutal years ago”

  1. That was absolutely beautiful. It hit home on all
    Points. I’m wishing love ama happiness and peace. Your doing a great job with the lemons. Makes a great lemonade. Thanks so much. Although my husband and I were separated we still were best friends and I too know all those same feelings and being all alone for everything you face. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Oh my goodness, you don’t know what your post-story did for me. Thank you so very much from the bottom of my heart. My name is Beth Daniels. My best friend, my husband passed away on Sept. 10th 2017. It feels so wierd writing that. You sharing that let me know that i am not alone in how i am feeling. Thank you for sharing that with everyone. I knew my hubby was going to be passing soon. You see he had passed 6-7 times before but always came back to me. Each time a little bit different. He would say God wasn’t ready for him. The truth was i wasn’t ready to let him go yet. He had lots of health problems. He was sick for 5 years or so. He was tired and ready to go. So on that night around 9pm he passed away. They tried for 25 minutes to bring him back. It didn’t work , his heart was just to weak. He wanted to go. I was just so upset that he left me behind! He wasn’t supposed to leave me behind like he did. I took care of him like a momma bear. Protected him with everything i had. Now i am just so very sad cause he left me and didn’t take me with him.

    1. Sharing same feelings… my husband passed Sep 28/2017… He was sick for a long time😞.17 years of marriage and 19 years together (two kids 12 and 14).. Hurts so much 💔😓. God bless you. Very sorry for your loss.

  3. What a beautiful, positive, resilient, and loving tribute to both your husband and to you! I dearly hope to be so brave as I move through grief.

  4. Thank you for your letter. My husband passed, it will be 12 yrs in may. He was 49 yrs old. Your letter touched my heart. By you writing that letter felt like i was’t alone. God bless you.

  5. thank you so much for sharing your story. I lost my husband14 months ago and have twin 14 year old boys. My husband to was in recovery and I lost a lot of my years during that time but gained so much and would not change it for the world. I am a better person and a stronger person for what we went through. I am so happy that he was sober his last three years. All along this 14 month journey I have always known we would be ok. As I sit here reading your story sobbing, I know that we will be ok. Your story was a needed reminder that he is with us and watching out for us. And that I am going to be ok.
    Thank you for sharing

  6. Thank you Wendy for such a beautiful post, I see much of myself in your story. My husband died 7 1/2 months ago, I have three wonderful kids too, 22, 19, and 6, resilient as hell, such a wonderful expression. We are pushing through and will find our way. But I love that you’ve kept living, put your heart back out there, and insist that there’s so much to do with this precious gift of life we have, because we never know how much time we really do have. He’d definitely love all you’ve done and all you’ll do. Thank you for the inspiration. Your girls are beautiful.

  7. Reading your words has left me feeling so sad,I hardly know what to say at this moment,I love you,wish I could help you more,know I believe in you, thank you for being such a great mom to the girls,and for being such a wonderful wife to my son. Be good to yourself!

  8. Thinking of you and yours on this difficult day my friend. Although I never had the pleasure of knowing Steve I feel as if I am familiar with him due to the countless stories I’ve heard about him. I can honestly say without reservation he is looking down upon all of you today and is smiling. I’m sure he would see, as we all do, the wonderful transformation you’ve made and the sacrifices you’ve endoured to raise three delightful young ladies. Each of them as you’ve mentioned, have inherited the best of both of you. I’m sure he’s smiling as he witnessed these amazing blessings from God grow into the amazing people that they are. Although it’s been years since I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with them they will always have a special place in my heart. They were great kids who have grown up and become great young ladies. He would be proud of the fantastic job you’ve done.

    Loss is difficult and you’ve had more than your share. Yet despite all of the trying times, difficult situations and broken promises you have always plowed forward. So here you are, the eleven years later, showing some battle scars, a few dents in your armor but you’ve siezed the day and are leading the battle like a true champion you are. The campaign isn’t over yet. It never will be but in the immortal words of (I hate to say it) Charlie Sheen, you are “winning!” I think Steve would be so proud of the woman you are despite all of the hardship you have endured.

    As a friend, I can say without hesitation you are an incredible mother and an absolutely amazing human being. Your kindness to those around you, your compassion for others and your strength is insurmountable.

    On a personal note, you’ve been and continue to be a good friend. I can say in all honesty, without reservation I’m a better man for knowing you and having your children in my life so many moons ago. You’ve taught me so many things about myself. How I can always to be brave, to move forward as well as fight through difficult times and to “keep on moving on.” Thank you, I am forever in your debt!

    In closing I’d like to say smile today. Hug each other and enjoy this difficult but special time together. Steve would want that. Share your delightful laugh. The latter being one of your stronger assets.

    My thoughts are with all of you today friend. Thank you for the honerable mention. 😉

    Warmest regards,

    A man who is proudly known in certain circles as Mr. Ross

  9. Thank you for posting such a wonderful tribute!! I lost my husband 12 years ago and had 2 young girls who are now 21 and 23. We all still miss him so much and your post made feel like I wasn’t weird for still missing him every day. I have been told by people “it has been 12 years you shouldn’t still miss him like that”, so thank you for making me feel like I wasn’t alone.

  10. Wow! What a beautiful story ! My hubby of 42 years passed away on June 24,2017. I told him it was o k to die because I would be just fine! Well I lied! I’m not ok! I cry all the time– I never thought that a empty feeling in your heart could hurt so bad – I just get up every day and pray I can get though another day – and I do!! I love all your kind words! Yes we will all make it- cause we have each other!!! Thank you everyone! I love you!!

  11. Thank you for sharing. It has been 13 months since he died. You have given me such hope that if I continue to press forward I will be ok maybe even wonderful.

    1. So much good is still available to us! Good lord this first years are rough – and there will always be tough patches – but being open to the all the possibilities in life is what keeps you going. Always being open to the possibilities of love. Take care of you ❤️

  12. Dear Wendy only 4 months in my journey after 20 years together.. Being a sudden loss hits home.. Your hubby sounds wonderful and your details have lifted me today… as its graduation week for my eldest and it will be tough … But “Okay” … keep sharing your beautiful story…

  13. Thank-You for sharing your story. I lost my husband 11 years ago and I still miss him just as much as the day he left us. He was 55 when he passed away. We had to kids a son and daughter they were both married at the time. We also had a 20 month old granddaughter who was the love of her grandpa’s. I now have 5 more grandkids that were born after his passing. It makes so very sad they he did not get to be here for the other 5. He was the best grandpa ever. He would of been on a could to be able to take them fishing or hunting with him. Not only the best grandpa but best husband and a great dad. He is missed by so many if only we could jusy have one more day with him.

  14. That was beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Steve would be proud of your writing abilities and your way of expressing yourself. I will admit it made me cry which is good. I often hold back my tears. I lost my spouse 13 1/2 yrs ago ( Marc 12, 2004) . I never found in me to date again, I felt like I had my true love and no one will even come close/ I admit I do feel it would be like cheating. also my mom never remarried or dated and she lived 30 plus yrs after my dad passed. My daughters were older in their 20s and I was already a grandma I think had they been young under 8 I would have dated again. He was still young 45 and I miss him every day. I can hear a song, drive by a certain spot, a smell , a certain tv show I a, sure you know what U mean. I feel him around me often. I know one day we will be together for eternity. again thanks for sharing.

  15. …so wonderful to read and not feel so alone..my first husband and daddy of my 3 passed 13 years ago on father’s day..we had 30 great years and I did not feel i could survive..i could not figure out how to be half of what I was..he was terminal at diagnosis given 6 weeks..but lived 18 more months..we called it our long goodbye..even at the end he was still so full of life..he was 53..around the one year mark I met a sweet guy who i was oblivious in my grief was interested in me..he was much younger than i and my mind was just not there..he became a great friend and my joy started to return..he was patient and kind..quirky like me and we just talked every minute we could..when he asked me to marry him I told him..you don’t want me..i am damaged goods..i am still so sad..he said you don’t always be sad..i said I can’t go thru the chance of loss again..he said you don’t have to..i am so much younger I will take care of you..you will have me when it is your time to pass..and so i said yes..we had 11 incredible years together and then just a year ago he got very sick and died unexpectedly..he was 48..to add to my pain the autopsy showed he was misdiagnosed and most likely would have survived..i don’t know how I am still alive..i begged GOD not to be left alone again..but for some reason I am still here..i am 62 and feel like I am still a kid just trying to figure life out..and how to go on..i just try to focus on loving others and not think of myself..my kids and grandkids live 3 states away and when I retire I hope to move by them..i have so much love and compassion for each of you and the losses you have endured..just hoping when I figure out why I am still here it will be an incredible peace..blessings

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