I’m a different person now….

by Karen on January 11, 2018

in Karen, Life After Steve

Something happened yesterday that really upset me.  I wanted to cry so bad but my medication doesn’t allow me to cry very easily.  (And that’s okay!).  But I was very sad and I had a lot to do.  It would have been great to have a hug and to be held for a little while, I feel safe that way.  But that wasn’t readily available to me so I picked myself up and went on with my day and surprisingly, I was very productive.

And then later on in the afternoon I realized that 7 months ago I would have just shut down for the day and felt helpless, alone, sad… and I would have had a pity party for me because Steve wasn’t here to “help” me through it.

But I didn’t do that….. and when I realized it I felt amazing… empowered almost!  I am not the person I was last year…. I’m in such a better place and I don’t need someone to help pick me up (though it is nice to have, but not NEED)…. all I need is myself and I’m so happy about that.  I’ve relied on other people to help me feel good about myself, or to help me when I was down, for way too many years.  It’s unhealthy and not functional.   No more.

Boy does this feel so much better!

Christmas 2016 happened less than 2 months after we buried Steve.  We all went through the motions becacuse we had too…. for the kids.  But honestly, I felt like a fruad.  I still sent out Christmas Cards, but they weren’t “Bright & Merry”… I did it because that’s what I do, I send out cards every Christmas.  I mailed them along with Thank You notes to those that attended his Funural.  Yes, it was weird.

When shopping for my inlaws, I was completely stumped.  What do you buy for someone who just lost their son… their only child.  Not much. Actually, NOTHING.   But I came up with a couple of ideas – I printed a beauiful picture of Steve that I took of him while he was driving his boat.  The water was in the background, it was a beautiful profile picture of him and I knew his dad would LOVE to look at it every day.  His dad loved boating and being on the water… and his son.  It was the perect combination.   He LOVED it.  He still looks at it every day.

We did Christmas of 2016 – but only because we couldn’t ignore it.


Fast foward to Christmas of 2017.  I didn’t feel like a fraud this year.  I felt good.  I enjoyed shopping for everyone, putting thoughts into what they would like or better yet LOVE.  Of course, in my shopping I came across so many things that Steve would have loved…..  I’m sure that will always happen.

We’ve done the same thing for Christmas ever since Holly was born.  My inlaws would come here on Christmas eve, sometimes the day before, spend the few days with us and head home the day after Christmas.  Last year was no different.

But this year, we had to change things.  Because of health issues, it was better for the girls and I to go to them, then the other way around.  It was going to be different and the girls and I weren’t sure how that would be.

So Christmas morning, the girls and I got up, opened our presents then got ready to head to Nana and Papa’s.  Very different.

That being said….. we had a GREAT Christmas this year!  I enjoyed our morning together so much… it was different but yet it wasn’t.  The girls and I have learned to enjoy our time together, just the 3 of us and Christmas morning was no different.  Believe me, I was dreading it… instead, I loved it.

The ride to my inlaws was beautiful because it had snowed that morning.  I told the girls take whatever they wanted to play with while we were there… and they did.  We enjoyed the ride and sang almost all the way there.  Smiles on our faces.

I brought dinner and gifts to their house and my aunt and uncle brought dessert.  We sat down and took turns opening gifts and just enjoying everyone and enjoying the moment together.

I have to say, we had a beautiful day and a great Christmas.

On the way home, Holly said to me “Mama, I had a great Christmas!”.

That made it even better.

A Year Later and Doing Well….

by Karen on January 1, 2018

in Life After Steve

Well, friends, 2017 was an interesting year for my entire family…. So much happened….. cancer diagnosis for my brother (he’s doing great!)… a flood down 3 stories in my house (but I now have a GORGEOUS new bathroom)… I broke my hand (my right hand and yes I’m right handed)… the trees on the side of my house fell and hit the house (no major damage…except for my broken hand)…pneumonia for my father in law 2+ times (he’s doing well right now)…. painful kidney stones for my mother in law (she finally has some relief after a year of pain)….the lose of another neighborhood dad 🙁 ….NEW FRIENDS…. a road trip to Florida with some of my Greenwood Peeps…. a road trip to PA with Jeff to visit friends… a road trip up north with friends…. Fathers Day weekend trip to Florida with my girls…. a trip to Disney World with Uncle Jeff (the highlight of their year) and our Greenwood Peeps….. a reconciliation with a friend <3 …. more college classes (getting closer to my goal but still a ways away).. good tears and bad tears…. along with so many laughs with our family and friends who I love so much….

Thank you, EVERYONE, who helped make this year as good as it could be for us. Those of you that were there for us to make us laugh or to listen to me when I cried (and screamed, yelled, cursed….), encouraged me when I was down and helped me find my way as a single 44-year-old widowed mom of two pre-teen girls who are so angry at the universe.

What a whirlwind of a year!!!


I made it through all of that and I’ve come out stronger, smarter, wiser and more confident than I have been in years. For the longest time, I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath…. but I can breathe again.

And my girls…. oh HOW proud I am of them! These kids… they don’t deserve any of this… but I see strength and resilience in them, I see them becoming better people, more understanding of others…. more compassion for those around them…. but I still see a LOT of pain, anger and sadness and that will take years to get through… but they will, I just know it.


I know our struggles aren’t gone… I’m still navigating this NEW Normal, but on Dec 31st of 2016 I didn’t know how I was going to do it… however today, Dec 31st of 2017 I know I can do it.

I’m sure 2018 is going to bring more sadness because that is life, but I believe it’s also going to bring even more HAPPINESS and FUN.

2018… Bring it on!!! I’m ready for another year… and I’m hopeful!

7 Months Since My Husband Died

by Karen on June 5, 2017

in Life After Steve

Today is 7 month’s since Steve died.  7 MONTHS!  I can’t believe it’s been that long, yet it seems like yesterday.

Holly cried tonight.  She misses him SO MUCH.  He was her ‘person’.  She had a bond with him that will always make her heart hurt.  Holly cries a lot.  She thinks of him a lot.  She never misses the 5th of the month.

She’s “graduating 6th grade” in 2 weeks.  She wanted him to be with there to see her graduation SO BAD.  She knew it probably wouldn’t happen, and she knew he was dying, but all she prayed for was for him to see her finish elementary school.  She knew he’d never see her graduate.  But he didn’t make it.  At least not in person.  I’m sure he’ll be with her that day, right beside her so proud of her.

Allison doesn’t cry over him, she doesn’t talk about him being dead, she avoids that at all costs.  But she talks about him all the time.  But I know how she’s feeling inside and it’s probably worse than I can even imagine.  She lets it out in other ways.

Being their mom is SO HARD.  They have so much anger in them.  They’ve been stripped of the oppertunity to know their daddy beyond their childhood.  He will never meet their first boyfriends, he’ll never see them in a cap and gown, or move off to college, or get their frist real job, or get their first appartment or walk them down the aisle.  NEVER.


When I think about that, my chest tightens up and tears fill up in my eyes.  These girls deserve to have all that but they won’t.  And I know i won’t be enough.  But I’ll try my hardest and I won’t stop trying until the day I can’t anymore.

The two and a half years he was sick were AWFUL.  You all saw one side, but what happened in this house was SO HARD.  No one will ever know but me and the girls.  His illness made him a different person.  He was so angry, so VERY ANGRY and he tried so hard.  Chemo was awful, just plain awful.  But he pushed through because he wanted to be here for his 3 girls for as long as he could.

There were days where I prayed for it to end, and then there were other days that I prayed for more time.  It was such an emotional rollercoaster.

And now I’m on the other side and it’s not any better.

I woke up this morning feel pretty good about the day.  But then when the girls came home and we were cuddling on the couch, and we talked about how it was the 5th of the month and how it was 7 months and Holly cried… Allison held her hand and put her head on my shoulder and now….

Well now I’m reminded that he’s gone.  And he’s never, EVER coming back.

It’s only been 7 months but it feels like a lifetime…….

3 years ago today, Steve and I went out to celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary. It was a Saturday night. When we got home that night Steve asked me if I was happy (after 13 yrs of marriage, I think it’s a legit question! lol) and I told him, “Yes” I was happy with where we were in our relationship, I loved our new home and all that came along with it and the direction our lives were going in at that time.

I then told him that I was scared that something was going to happen to ruin it all. He assured me that nothing would happen to take our happiness away.

3 days later he ended up in the hospital and they found “nodules in his lungs and liver”.

Life can change at ANY MOMENT. Enjoy each minute, do the things you want to do, take that trip, buy that item you wanted, go on vacation with your loved ones, say the things you want to say… DON’T HOLD BACK LIVE YOUR LIFE. Because we don’t know what the future will hold, especially tomorrow.

When Steve realized the end was eminent, he did tell me that while he’ll miss out on so many things in the future, he is so happy that he did so much….. he traveled a lot – for work and for pleasure, he played hard while he was younger, went to a great college and really enjoyed himself while there, he bought the cars he liked, he owned (2) homes and (2) boats, he had a family, he met the girl of his dreams (his words!), he had a good childhood filled with a LOT of great memories of being on the boat with his parents and his friends, he ate good food, drank good beer and wine, had his dream job he loved, made tons of memories with his little girls, made AMAZING friends, read a shit ton of books (that I now own!!!) and honestly if he wanted something, he got it or did it. He had no idea his life would be cut short at the young age of 44, but he was so glad he lived his life.

I wish for people to learn from us, to take those chances and live life and not ‘wait’ for retirement because not everyone gets’s to retirement.

These next few days represented a HUGE change in the directions that our lives went 3 years ago, so please bare with me, I may share or I may go quiet.