Monday, September 23, 2013

A Third Anniversary of Love Lost

by Kate Collins

Three years ago this week, life as I knew and loved it ended with my husband's sudden death. My world turned upside down. My heart crumbled. I lost my purpose. I floundered, wondering what I was going to do without purpose. Yet all around me, life continued on and so, eventually, did I, thanks to the wonderful support of my family and friends, and even to the many readers who sent their condolences.

A lot has happened in those three years. I made the New York Times Bestseller list three times. I traveled on a mission trip to Cuba. (Great country, by the way, which the rest of the world knows.) I sold my big family home and built a new condo home in a wonderful neighborhood filled with other downsizers. I organized a widow's group that meets after church for brunch. I helped found a women's club in my new neighborhood. I started teaching a class in creative writing at a women's shelter. And I learned to live as a single.

My discoveries: After having had a wonderful married life, it's not fun being single. I seem to be hyperaware of married couples holding hands, exchanging knowing looks, sitting with heads together at a movie, and countless other things that I don't get to do anymore.

I don't enjoy love songs anymore. They make me cry. I don't read romances. I can't watch romantic movies. I don't go to balls, dances, or other couples' events.  I don't date. At this point, no one could possibly be a replacement for the love of my life. And I don't like it when women complain about having to go home to their husbands or having to spend one evening alone. Seriously?

The best discovery, however, is that my husband is always near. Starting from the day of his funeral, he has let me know that he's around. We even have a signal. It's an amazing and comforting realization that life does go on, that our loved ones can be with us whenever we think of or talk to them, and that love really does last forever.  If you don't want to take my word for it, there's a wonderful book written by two Harvard trained scientists called, "The Afterlife Experiments."

The good news is that I've made a new life for myself in a new, sunny, happy home and I've surrounded myself with great new friends. For anyone who has suffered a deep, tragic loss, there is always going to be a scar across your heart. Scars don't go away. But there is also happiness to be found, just a different kind of happiness.

The great news is that The Flower Shop Mystery series continues to grow and find new fans. The little series-that-could, now on its 16th book, has been a life-saver for me. Abby, Marco, Lottie, Grace, and the gang are my family, too.  And when I get letters like the one I got the other day, in which a reader said my books had helped her through a tough time, I know I've found my purpose.


23 comments:

Lisa E Richardson said...

Beautiful words, thank you!

Aurian said...

I am happy that you found new joy and purpose in your life, and admire you for the community things you do. I hope you keep writing the Abby books for a long time.

Kate Collins said...

Thanks, Aurian and Lisa. I hope to keep writing about Abby for a long time, too!

Kath said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kath said...

Watching you online the past few years as you worked you way through this has been amazing! So happy you are starting to see sunshine again!

Kristen said...

<3 Hugs! You are loved Kate!

Tess Tipton said...

You sure opened my eyes this morning. Thanks, Kate.
Hugs!

Mary Kennedy said...

This is wonderful, very touching, and I know you've reached a lot of people with your words of hope and encouragement.

Elaine Klingbeil said...

Great post! And a great reminder to me to be so thankful I still have the love of my life with me. One never knows how much time we have...

Jeannie D. said...

Thank you for making me pause and realize how very lucky I am to have the love of my life still with me. I think we all go into denial at how short life really is. I am very happy you are finding peace again. It is wonderful that you help other people and give us all joy when we read your books.

Linda A. Thompson-Ditch said...

My husband has already survived 4 heart attacks and is scheduled to have multiple bypass surgery in the next couple of months, so I carry a tiny stone of fear in my heart every day that our time together could be coming to a close. However, I bury that stone under the glittering gems of every minute I have with him and continue to dream about our continued life together in the future. Still...thank you for reminding me that life would carry on should the stone work it's way to the top of the pile.

Mary Ann Schlacks said...

I am lucky also. My "life love" is still with me for a while too. Our anniversary is this week. Number 37. He is actually feeling better than he has in a long time. I am trying to enjoy this time especially. Thank you for your comments. Several of my friends are recently widowed and I am sure have similar feelings.

Kate Collins said...

Linda, you have the right idea. Celebrate every day you have with your love. My husband and I used to raise our wine glasses and clink glasses at every dinner meal and give thanks for the day we spent together. I still raise my glass to him every night. I know he's right there with me smiling.

ladyvyvian said...

I rather envy you. Even though you have lost him you had years together. I was married less than 8 years when we divorce and I have basically been alone since then. I raised my daughter and have helped her with her 4 children, one of which is living with me for a while, but I sometimes miss the companionship. I lived with a brother for a while but he passed away last year. I have considered dating but I have health issues and it is just takes too much energy for a relationship. I am glad you have been able to make a new life and have reached some peace. Good luck for your future.

Rachelle21 said...

My husband has not been home since July 4. I talk to him several times a day and go visit him at least twice a week. I do not like being alone but I do like being able to spend time with him. I hope I will be able to be a survivor like you are when I need to be. I just do not want that time to be too soon.

Kathleen Ernst said...

I've always found writing to be a solace during hard times. May it always be so for you.

Maggie Sefton said...

A lovely pot, Kate. You've traveled a difficult path with grace and strength. Blessings. And I know how you fell when readers write and tell you how much our books have helped them thru hard times---emotionally and other ways. You realize that we and our characters are playing a larger role than we ever imagined. Clearly, More is at work. :)

Elaine Klingbeil said...

Linda, that was beautiful! And Kate, that is such a great picture! My mom lost my dad last October and it was so hard. They had been married almost 63 years. She says the hardest thing is not having him to talk to about making decisions. They talked about everything and now she has no one to talk to about those things. I must remember to keep celebrating my times with my husband while I have him. Thank you both!

SueAnn said...

Instead of saying what you do not enjoy anymore, and seeing others holding hands,etc,,,at first, it is painful and raw..but over time, when you see the world moving on, enjoy what you see, add it to all your most happiest memories.....they are not gone.....remember the love, that is not gone either. God forbid something should happen to my Larry, but if it did....once I was done crying....I would get on with what had to be done, but, always thinking, of my Larry,maybe even talking to him too! I remember when your dear husband passed, and I admire you, in your strength, I can hope, to be as strong as you.Your writing, soothes you, and lifts me up.You have the ability to create great conversations in your stories.

Kate Collins said...

Thank you, SueAnn.

Annette said...

Thank you so much for sharing with us, your readers something so personal. I am so grateful that writing The Flower Shop books has been so helpful for you throughout the past few years of hardship. I love the series and feel happy when reading about Abby, Marco and the gang.

Kate Collins said...

Thank you, Annette. I'm happy when I'm writing about Abby and company, my OTHER family.

Adrienne said...

Kate...I've just now reread your post and copied some of it to send to a friend who
just lost her dad very suddenly ...at 60. Young these days. It wasn't her husband she lost but as we all know and you stated so beautifully, the scar is deep and wide in her heart and she wonders how she can ever be happy again. Thank you for providing words
of hope to send to her. I told her who you were and what you do and how there is such a bond between authors and readers when so much is shared. Thanks again...and I hope your days continue to be filled with sunshine and good friends and your gift to us of more great books! Adrienne in MN