The Night I Became A Widow

It’s been a while since I’ve actually sat down and written anything. Too long, really. I am coming up on two years since the night I lost my husband, two years since the night when everything changed.

I was at home with our thirteen month old daughter waiting for my husband to come home with the pizza he went to pick up for us. It was a Friday and I had had a very long week home alone with a very fussy baby. I was a stay-at-home mom and my husband had been away on a business trip. He had gotten home from the trip on that Wednesday night and come Friday, after a full week of seemingly not stop fussiness, I was tired and done and I didn’t feel like cooking. So when he got home from work, he offered to go out and pick up dinner so I wouldn’t have to cook. He even offered to take the little one with him on the drive just to give me a short, albeit much needed, break. Normally I would have happily accepted the break, but she had been just too fussy and I thought both of them would be miserable in the car. So she stayed home with me and my husband went off on his own.

Before he left the house he said that he wanted to sit down and have a serious conversation about moving when he got back with the pizza. We never had that conversation.

I called Matt to ask him to pick up milk on his way home. He didn’t answer so I sent him a text hoping he would see either my missed call or the text so he wouldn’t have to run back out later. A few minutes later I called again… and again. Matt was always on time. He was the kind of guy who would call me to tell me he’ll be 5 minutes late because he needs to stop for gas. So after 15 minutes I got worried, but I patiently waited. After half an hour I was very worried. By that time I had decided that he had been in a car accident and I just had to wait for him to call me and tell me what’s going on. By 45 minutes I decided that the car accident was bad and he was hurt and couldn’t call me, or else he would have already, and I started to panick. I tried to wait a full hour before calling the police to try to find him but I couldn’t make it to the full hour. I called the state police and told them that I think my husband had been in a car accident because he’s almost an hour late getting home. The officer asked me where I think it happened and I told him and he said he would have someone from the local PD call me. I tried to wait until they called. I tried so hard. I think I waited 3 minutes before I couldn’t take it and I called the department myself. The officer who answered told me that my husband had been in an accident and that two state troopers were on their way to my house and they would explain everything.

They don’t send cops to your home to tell you everything is alright.

The words, “what happened” got stuck in my throat at first, but I swallowed them. In that moment I knew that nothing good would come from asking this question he can’t answer. And I knew that if I asked, I would know. An eternity went by waiting for those officers. I stood at the porch door watching and begging Matt to just come home. Each time I saw headlights I would feel hope, and each time it wasn’t him I would feel the rush of dread. I remember saying over and over, “Just come home! Fuck the pizza, just come home!”

And then I saw two police cruisers pull up. Holding my baby in my arms, I ran outside and greeted them at the door, two officers: a man and a woman. I shook the officers hand and I asked him what happened. He asked if we could go inside. It was freezing out so I invited them in. When we got to the living room I asked again, “what happened?” And he said, “why don’t you have a seat.”

I don’t really know what happened next because with those words I knew. I just knew. I sat down and I looked at him and I made him tell me. I remember telling him no over and over. I was begging him to tell me he was wrong, just kidding, this is some terrible cruel joke! I hoped that Matt would be in the back of the squad car for doing something stupid, some stupid thing that he would never do because he didn’t do stupid things like that. I needed something else to be true, anything else, just as long as he was alive. Just as long as he would come home.

But instead, these officers came to my home to tell me that my husband would never walk through that door again. They told me he had a cardiac event behind the wheel, he was passed out when the accident happened.

My memory of the rest of that night is a blur, I can remember bits and pieces but nothing in detail. I remember calling my parents and telling them what happened. They got in the car and drove to my house immediately. After they arrived I had to make the hardest phone call of my life. I had to call his mom and tell her. My parents offered to make the call for me but I said no, it had to be me.

I remember going to bed. I was in a fog, I was bewildered. And as I was climbing into bed I got a phone call from Life Choice, an organization that handles the procurement of organ and tissue donations. My husband was a registered organ donor. He and I both felt strongly about donation since I had fairly recently donated my own kidney to him. He was a transplant patient and I am a living donor. So when they called and asked me the many questions they had, I told them to take it all, take everything they can. I didn’t know about funeral plans or anything like that (I was only 29 and I never thought this would happen!) so I told her to take everything and we can figure out those plans afterwards. But there was a part of me that held out hope that it wasn’t really Matt. That they were wrong.

I cried myself to sleep that night. I talked to Matt and told him how much I love him and need him and want him to come home. I laid in the bed like I did when he would lay next to me and imagined him there holding me while I cried myself to sleep. I found myself doing that quite a lot over the first year. I liked to imagine him holding me, it just made everything feel easier, even if it wasn’t real.

Over time, though, memory fades. I have forgotten what it felt like when he held me. I have forgotten many of the little things. I can’t imagine him the same way I used to. The image is more vague, his words are harder to string together in my head, I find it harder and harder to know what he would have done or said in a given situation. I don’t live in the same house anymore so I can’t look around and see the memories in my space, because he never lived in this space. That’s the hardest part of all of this – losing the memories. It’s as if that last pieces I have of him are slowly being chipped away. I feel like I keep losing him, bit by bit.

But time has continued. Our daughter gets older and life has to keep moving. Time won’t pause for me, it won’t stop and wait until I’m ready to move with it. Time will just keep moving all the same, whether I go with it or just watch it pass me by. Sometimes I have felt like time can be an enemy, but I have realized that time is neither friend nor foe. Time just is. It doesn’t care about me. It is not kind or cruel, it is indifferent. It does not care.

Two years have passed by since the love of my life died. He was 38, kind, sweet, smart, sarcastic and witty, and so loving. He wasn’t always the easiest person to be married to because he was sick with kidney disease. I wasn’t always the easiest person to be married to because I often failed to see things in perspective. But between his dialysis and hospital visits and transplant and my hard headed, forgetful, insecure ways – we were happy. He was my other half. At the end of the day, no matter what, I had him. As long as we always made the effort we would always be good. I knew that. And I think he knew that, too. Because beyond anything else, we loved each other. We loved each other enough to always work to fix the things that weren’t working. We loved each other enough to always work to make each other happy.

It has been two years since the love of my life came home, and I can tell you this: The only thing we have is time. The only thing that matters is what we do with our time. And the only thing that remains of us after we die are the impressions we have made in the hearts of the living.

Use your time wisely. Hug your kids when you get home. Pick your wife a flower. Put a note in your husband’s jacket just to remind him how much he means to you. But more important than that, remember that time is fleeting. Go make a memory every chance you get. When you fight, fight honestly and fairly. Apologize when you’re wrong, go to bed angry when you’re too angry to keep talking… but never forget to say “I love you” and never forget how much you mean it. I would do anything to have another argument with my husband, or to ruin another home cooked dinner, or to worry about his health again. I would give anything if I could get those moments back… the ones I missed, the ones I’m never going to have.

One day you may wake up and find that you will have no more moments with the person you love, so use the moments you have wisely. You will gain more from giving in those moments than you ever will from expecting. And what happens if you wake up and find that time is up?


Published by

Becky Nolan

I a widowed mom to my young daughter. I lost my husband suddenly at the age of 29, leaving me with a one year old child to raise on my own. I live in Connecticut, where I met, married, and lost the man that I am still proud to call my husband. Every day I struggle. Every day I learn. Every day I am grateful for the time I had with him, and for the little girl he gave me before he left. I have found comfort and healing in writing. I have found purpose in sharing my story, knowing that so many others have been through it, too. Knowing that everyone has experienced loss and struggle. Words can be healing when they come from that deeply honest place within the soul. Grief is too lonely a road to walk alone, so I aim to give comfort and company on that lonely road.

7 thoughts on “The Night I Became A Widow”

  1. Thank you and I remember the day my husband died like it was yesterday. Next month marks a year and I don’t even know how the time has flown by.

    What I wouldn’t give to have one more I love you!!! I miss him erribly everyday and time everyone around I’m fine but inside I I never will be.

    My kids are at a loss and our son is at the hugest loss. When all have our ups and downs but being a father was what he did best! Now my son has to grow up with out one.

    My husband was in an accidnet too and I called to see what happened and all I got was the name sounded familiar and someone would call me. This was 4:30pm and the chaplain didn’t my house until after 10 pm. This day will always be the worst day of my life!

    Thanks for expressing how I feel!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My husband passed 4 months ago today, in an accident that shouldn’t have happened. I still don’t have answers, we are still waiting for the autopsy and cause of death, but he had no physical injuries from his accident so one can only guess till we get that report. Reading your story was damn near reading my own in many ways.
    I know my grief is still very raw and new, im still living second to second. Thank you for sharing.. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A heart breaking experience – very well written. I know you have heard this many times, but I’ll say it anyway – I’m so sorry for your loss. I too know the pain and heart break of such loss: my husband was killed in a crash on March 24, 2013, a Palm Sunday that year. I commonly mention that, wondering if it actually has any pertinence, as my hubby Marcos was a religious man. And then the twist of it all is, that the man responsible for my Marcos’ death, who was high on meth and delusional at the time that he T-boned the drivers side of our car at the speed of 77mph while Marcos sat with his foot on the brake, killing Marcos upon impact – said he had begun doing meth a year and a half prior to “help him understand the Bible better”. Every time I talk of that, it’s like inserting a knife into my heart and twisting, again and again and again. I have often given thought of writing more about Marcos, and our lives together, and your writing lends encouragement to do so; thank you Becky Nolan, for the strong woman that you are and the strength to pour your heart out about such a horrific loss in your life. Sending hugs, well wishes and bright blessings to you and and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Over time, though, memory fades. I have forgotten what it felt like when he held me. I have forgotten many of the little things. I can’t imagine him the same way I used to. The image is more vague, his words are harder to string together in my head, I find it harder and harder to know what he would have done or said in a given situation. I don’t live in the same house anymore so I can’t look around and see the memories in my space, because he never lived in this space. That’s the hardest part of all of this – losing the memories. It’s as if that last pieces I have of him are slowly being chipped away. I feel like I keep losing him, bit by bit.

    Your words resonate so deeply with me. The fear and reality of forgetting. I just wrote my own piece on “I want to remember…”: And yet, I will forget. I AM FORGETTING. Because I’m only human. And we forget. And that TERRIFIES me.

    I am so sorry that Matt was ripped out of you and your daughter’s life.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As I read your story the tears will not stop flowing. In May 2017, my husband of 40 years died suddenly and unexpectedly. He had just recently undergone his annual physical and had an EKG and blood work. Everything checked out fine and his doctors were pleased with his blood work. This is a man who walked 5 miles a day , several times a week and worked out at the gym the other days. In fact, a friend of mine made the comment that Mike was in much better shape than some of the people who came to his funeral. My husband was under a great deal of stress and anxiety caused by his mother. She is an ice cold manipulating woman – always has been. She loves to be the center of attention and when she isn’t she creates some kind of medical crisis. She refuses to go to assistive living, even her doctors have recommended it. Why? Because she has to be in control and doesn’t like anyone telling her what to do. She is 89 years old. Has never liked any of the spouses that married her star children, so I wasn’t the only one treated badly. Anyway, my husband had been at his mother’s because of another” medical crisis ” and had come home. It is about 25 minutes to our house. My wonder kind hubby came home, we talked , he ate dinner. His brother called to ask about their mother. About 25 minutes later I came back into the room and found my husband unconscious on the couch with the phone still in his hand. EMS Was in a minute ( right at the end of our street) and they worked on him here and over an hour in the ER. The doctors just couldn’t keep his heart beating. They could get a heart rhythm, but couldn’t substain it. He was shocked several times and all kind of drugs pumped into him. They tried very hard, but in the end there wasn’t anything anyone could do. The day of the funeral was the last time I have talked to his mother. She said my house was ” cold and depressing ” well duh! Also she didn’t shed a tear at the visitation or the funeral. My sister in laws asked me if I wanted to be included in her care. Not no, but hell no. I was not going to be dragged into her web of destruction. She killed him, she wasn’t killing me. She has three other children – let them figure it out. Two of them are nurses! I am retired and wasn’t going to become the go to person for a woman who has treated me and my children with disdain. While my husband was living I was kind and respectful towards her. I tried to include her in activities and we took her to family reunions and to visit family. ( all nightmare trips, but that is another story) But, now that he has passed away I want nothing to do with her at all. Hubby and I had many conversations in the last few months of his life – I just chalked up to him helping his mother with her preneed plans. But, the bottom line is , we had a good life together, we had great adventures, we traveled and we just had fun with each other. We had been together 42 years and had known each other for 44-45 years. I would have loved to have had another 20 years, but that won’t happen.


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