CRAZY COURAGE A YOUNG WIDOW’S SURVIVAL GUIDE
by Samantha Light - Gallagher
CRAZY COURAGE A Young Widow’s Survival Guide
S L-G E DIT ED
AuthorHouse™ 1663 Liberty Drive Bloomington, IN 47403 www.authorhouse.com Phone: 1-800-839-8640
© 2012 by Samantha Light-Gallagher. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.
Published by AuthorHouse 04/03/2012 ISBN: 978-1-4685-7606-1 (sc) ISBN: 978-1-4685-7608-5 (hc) ISBN: 978-1-4685-7607-8 (e) Library of Congress Control Number: 2012906208 Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models, and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only. Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock. This book is printed on acid-free paper. Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them. Cover photo by Benjie Sanders – Arizona Daily Star
CONTENTS Acknowledgements Introduction
The People You Meet and the People You Know
Live, Love, Laugh
The Difference Between Crazy Courage and Going Crazy
Woe is Me
For Mike, my late husband My children And to all of the widows in the world that believe in life after their loss
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank all the people that helped me during my “first year”. This book would not have been possible without… My children, who teach me something every day and their unconditional love. My Mom, who has always supported me. My Dad, who taught me the value of honesty. My sisters, who give me the perspective I need and the strength you have showed me. My in-laws, who welcomed me in their family and will always have a place for me. My family that shows me love. My friends that are always there to lean on. The organizations that have supported my family through our unfamiliar life. JJ, without your guidance and enthusiasm it would not have been possible to complete this book. Other widows that have showed me their courage.
Our wedding picture. We were married in Las Vegas.
I NTRODUCTION September 2, 2010, was an ordinary day. I was working from home and remember calling Mike around 9:30 am. I was really frustrated that he didn’t answer his phone when I called. I even thought about the lecture I was going to give him when he got home. What I didn’t know was that he had just been struck by a drunk driver in his service vehicle. He had only been in his vehicle about four minutes after leaving the Border Patrol station near the U.S. border with Mexico. It was around 11 am when I got the knock on my door. I remember running to the door wondering who it could be. When I opened it, the US Border Patrol was standing on my front door step. It takes the breath out of me just thinking about it. I wanted to shut the door hoping they would disappear. Instead I stood there; not knowing that what would happen next would change my life. I looked at this man in his green uniform and noticed he was a higher ranking agent. He had sweat on his forehead and his dark eyes were difficult to read. He began to speak and I focused in on his lips. The words came out slowly. It reminds me of watching the movie Sandlot with my sons. There is a scene when the camera zooms in on a police officer’s mouth as he says, “-F O R E V E R-” and everything goes into slow motion. Except the words coming out of this man’s mouth now were, your husband has been in an accident. After hearing those words I looked up to find Mike’s friends, agents as well, standing behind this man. I looked into their eyes and saw with disbelief the news that I didn’t want to hear. Still I held onto hope that they were only going to say he was in the hospital. The agent then asked to come in. I backed away from the door and motioned to them. I could not speak at this moment. It was as if someone was strangling me, squeezing my throat harder with every breath. My heart was racing as they entered. Around the corner came a man I did not see originally. He had a black shirt on with a notebook in his hand. I remember noticing his young face seemed very nervous. I stood in the 1
foyer as they all entered my house. The man in the black shirt looked around at the empty room and said he thought it would be better if we went in and sat down. They followed me as I walked into the family room. I took a seat on the couch and the higher ranking agent sat next to me facing me. I watched the other man clearing toys from the floor to sit in front of me on the other side of the coffee table. I remember thinking to myself that I wished I would have cleaned up the boys mess from the night before. Our friends had taken places around me on the couch. When I looked up the higher ranking man sat up straight and looked into my eyes. The words he began to say came out like knives piercing my heart. “I am sorry ma’am, but your husband died.” I heard myself sobbing uncontrollably, but only for a brief moment. It was a cry of hysteria, of helplessness. I remember hearing the sobs and it didn’t sound like me. It was like I was hearing someone else. It brought back a memory from when I was a young teenage child. I was sitting in the hospital room with my little sister on my lap, as my grandfather was dying. My grandmother was by his side as his body went lifeless and I heard the same cry come from her. It only lasted for a brief moment, but the cry didn’t sound like my grandmother. She was a widow at that moment just as I am in this moment. Memories started whipping through my mind. It was as if I was watching the very end of an old film on a projector, when the reel is at the end and is whipping around in a circle in front of the light. What I wanted to do was wrap my arms around him to protect him. Isn’t that what we are supposed to do as husband and wife? Our vows said to comfort in sickness and health. There was an aching inside to give him a hug no matter what he looked like. I say this because they kept saying to me that they did not think it was a good idea for me to see him. I then began to remember every detail of the last time I saw him and would ever see him again alive. He wanted me to grab Egees after Quincy’s football practice. I ordered his classic original grinder, a meatball sub for myself and a ham and cheese for Quincy. Rhyan was strictly a chicken nugget kid at this point, so he did not require anything from Egees. I topped us off with some ranch and chili cheese fries. Quincy and I demolished all of the ranch fries before we got home. Mike would later tease me about demolishing them and only leaving the chili cheese fries.
When I walked in the door, Rhyan was sitting on the kitchen island with his dad in front of him. I am not sure of the conversation they had but they were talking about something. I heard the belly laugh of our two year old and the look of fatherhood glowing all over Mikeâ€™s face. How he was proud to teach his children new tricks. Once he was really proud of the fact that his boys would stand with pants to their knees on the back patio peeing in the grass. Often times their dad would join them. After we all dug into our food, it was time for the boys to go to sleep. While I was settling the boys into bed, Mike showered and got ready for work. I went downstairs and made our usual pot of coffee. I heard him telling the kids goodnight before he came downstairs to join me. We went outside and sat on the patio, drinking our cups of coffee and smoking a cigarette. This was the time of day I believe we both enjoyed. We talked about our life, our plans and what we had going on in the weeks to come. This is where Mike and I continued to develop our own relationship. We had those conversations that built what we knew as our marriage and our life together. I remember him being relieved that he had met his two year probation and we were planning a three week trip to go to see both of our families. This was a new beginning for us. We were finally moving to a new stage . . . family vacations. Before Mike left that night for work I was sitting at the computer finishing some homework. I remember how handsome he looked in his green uniform. He was off to work the night shift and I remember thinking that only a little bit longer and he moves to day shift. He knelt down and kissed me. Every time he kissed me it was so natural and I really appreciated that feeling. He stood up and turned away to walk down the hallway towards the garage. I listened to the deep clomp of his work boots hitting the tile floor. I heard him open the squeaky garage door. Then I yelled I love you and he yelled it back. I said be safe and he said he would. Then the door closed behind him and he left for another long night of work. This was the last time I saw him or heard his voice when he was alive. Since the day my husband was killed, I have been through several stages of grief or emotional stress, or whatever anybody wants to call it. There are times when things seem so normal, but there is always something missing. All the dreams you planned together are left to do. Only now you do them on your own.
I met my husband in 2005, when I was a single mom to my son Quincy. We met while he was stationed in Fort Lewis, Washington and I lived with my sister. I was very hesitant to start a relationship with someone. My sister introduced us and we began our fairytale together. We had a son, Rhyan, in 2007. Over the years we developed a deep bond and knew each other well. I believe marriage is the most intimate bond you can have with someone. We did have our fair share of arguments or what we referred to in front of the kids as debates. Yet at the end of every day, we shared the love with each other and our children. We spent five and a half years together and in the whole scheme of life it seems so small. However, it does not change the grief you feel inside. Grieving is a hard word to swallow. You can read about grieving. Google it and the one constant is that there are seven stages. In most of the material I read it says that people will go through each stage. I disagree. We are human; therefore each person is their own individual. I will also say that you may experience different stages of grief at the same time. I believe I have had a small dose of each stage. Each one being as difficult as the one previous and the ones that followed. In all of the books that I have read to try to ease my pain or just make me feel a little normal, I never really felt my feelings were validated. There was one that I enjoyed and I believe it did a great job of providing stories of other young widows that I was able to relate to very well. You would think that if you meet someone that has shared the same loss you would experience it the same, but the fact is you don’t. There were many days that I felt like I was on a deserted island all alone with no one around that could understand me. I only hoped that I wouldn’t go crazy and paint a face on a volleyball like Tom Hanks did constantly searching for my own Wilson. There is one thing that I am fortunate to have and that is the support of my family and friends. Being able to confide in them has been very beneficial. If there is one thing that drove me crazy is that people assume there is a timeframe for things and there isn’t. My closest friends and family have understood this. I think I may owe a few of them some big money for the countless hours of “therapy” they provided. What I want to do now is provide something to those of you that are searching for some validation and to help you find your crazy courage. The following chapters are lessons and events in the last year with my personal stories pulled from my journal that might resonate with you. I
Crazy Courage - A Young Widow’s Survival Guide book is about believing in life after your love was taken away. Were were times when I would...