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.