Writer. Mother. Widow. Survivor.
As one of my early pieces states, “I was raised a middle-class valley girl.” The 80s, for me, was close to idyllic. I was working at the local mall, still dating my high school sweetheart, and thoroughly enjoying college life. Life was good.
The 90s began with me marrying that same sweetheart (Matt) and beginning our family. We took a leap and moved up to Washington, then moved back to Southern California five years later. There were the standard bumps in the road – along with a few hills and a mountain or two, but we worked things out. We persevered. We were happy.
The turn of the century ushered in a new era for us. On the evening of September 10, 2001, (yes, the night before 9/11) Matt was diagnosed with leukemia. When we awoke the next morning to the horrific headlines, it seemed surreal. Not only was our personal life turned upside down, but so was our nation’s. Our sons were six and eight at the time.
I can state without reservation that without our faith and unrelenting support from our family and friends, we never would have made it through those difficult days that turned into years. Matt endured numerous “life-saving” treatments and their side effects. Throughout it all, his spirit seldom wavered. “Every day above ground is a good day,” he used to joke. Only I was privy to his rare moments of distress and his constant encounters with pain.
Then, in August of 2008, our world was turned upside down again. My husband of 18 years, the amazing father of our two children, and my best friend of nearly three decades died. I subconsciously knew that the “grow old with me – the best is yet to be” was not going to be in the cards for us. I did, however, think there would be hints of decline or a medical declaration that would give us all time to prepare. In reality, he went into sudden cardiac arrest on the sunniest of days – both in weather and how he was feeling. We lost him almost immediately.
Thus began my life as a widow and single mother of two teenage boys. Again, my three Fs – Faith-Family-Friends have been our sustenance. Without them, we would be overwhelmed by despair and overcome by sadness.
I threw myself into taking care of my sons; trying in vain to make up for what they had lost. Each day felt like I was on a treadmill while treading water. One of the things I missed most was talking to my counterpart – my confidante. Since I was 16, Matt was the one who I discussed everything with. The one who helped me solve my problems and shared in my delights. We worried, laughed, and cried together. My sounding board was gone.
And so, I began writing again. My personal essays have been a conduit for me to release the conversations that have been replaying over and over in my head – to purge some of the sorrow. Soon, I had amassed quite the collection. After much cajoling (and a little technical help from a friend), I was persuaded to create a blog. In Search of Big Girl Panties, my first piece, describes the beginning of my expedition. It seemed only fitting to make it the name of my site.
Through this blog I hope to work through my journey of grief, reflect on hitting the age of mid-century modern, and deal with a chronic illness. I may comment on whatever I confront along the way, including episodes in parenting, recollections of family, and my brief encounter with breast cancer.
No matter how you may have stumbled upon this site, I appreciate you taking the time to read through my story. If any of my posts have helped you understand a loved one, deal with personal loss, or provided a little chuckle, I am honored. Thank you for helping me to remember: Life is, and continues to be, good.