Telling stories of love is not simply the same as telling love stories. Love comes in many forms. It's the earliest emotion we feel, the one that moves us most, for better or for worse. This week, as we always do, we’re talking to people. And the tie that binds all of this week’s people is their hearts. Everyone has a story of the heart. It’s the most common of threads in the enormous tapestry of life. Sometimes our hearts tell a happy story, sometimes a sad tale. Sometimes our stories involve putting our pieces back together and moving on.
Each day… a different person… a different story…. a different reason… a different heart. One love.
"Well, first and foremost, while the ending is tragic, I feel extremely blessed in regards that I was fortunate enough to find my true best friend and true love and soul partner. When I was a teenager, my "high school sweetheart" got me through. I was going down the wrong path and he helped get me straightened out. After we got married and got our house, we got pregnant and miscarried and then we got pregnant again. When I was 8 weeks pregnant he surprisingly asked away. Luckily, I didn't miscarry and had our daughter, who just turned 10. He definitely lives on in her. The whole nature/nurture part thing, the nature part is real."
DO YOU MIND SHARING HOW HE PASSED AWAY?
"That's fine. He had an accidental prescription (from the Dr.) drug overdose. After the fact, we learned, he had a lot of health issues. When he was a child, 11 I believe, he had Hodgkins. And when they found out, he had a tumor the size of a softball in his chest and it was all in his lymph nodes. They gave him 24 hours to live. It was a miracle that he survived. They radiated and chemotherapy'd the hell out of him. Back then, they didn't know the side effects and everything, what all the negative aspects of the chemo and radiation were. Even to this day, that usually doesn't get talked about. But, it does do a lot of damage and it did a lot of damage to his organs. His heart was that of somebody in their 80's."
SO THAT CONTRIBUTED TO HIS DEATH?
"Yeah, the medicines and the doctors not talking to each other, coupled with the heart...it took him. The way I sleep at night, is that I think that God went and saw his fight and had him survive to help save me and get me on the right path and get pregnant with our daughter and then it was time for him to go home."
"I was 26 and he was a month, to the day, away from his 31st birthday."
SO HERE YOU ARE, 26, PREGNANT AND YOU TRAGICALLY LOSE YOUR HUSBAND, HOW DID YOU GO ON?
"Obviously, a lot of support from friends and family. I think the biggest thing was knowing that I was pregnant and knowing that it was so early and very easy for me to miscarry since I miscarried that December before. I knew I had to stay calm, that all would work itself out and after I delivered I'd truly grieve or have my mini meltdown. That still hasn't happened. I think if I wasn't pregnant, I don't think I would've had my head on straight."
HOW DO YOU KEEP HIS MEMORY ALIVE WITH YOUR DAUGHTER?
"It might sound nuts, but actually, not so much lately, but when she was younger they would have conversations. He's told her things that there's no way anyone else would've told her, and she's flat out told me "Daddy told me". For instance, we were adopting a rabbit. Well, before she was born, he and I had pet ducks named Ashley and Rhianna. I never talked to her about the ducks because then she'd want ducks (laughter). When I took her to the pet store to get the rabbit, my mom was with me, and I asked my daughter what we should name the bunny. She said "Ashley". I was stooped down in the doggy pen, cause I didn't wanna touch the floor, and I fell back and was like "huh?" My moms face just dropped. We were like "Okay, Ashley it is". A little time went by and we asked her where the name Ashley came from. We didn't know any Ashley's. I even asked if there were any Ashley's in her class and there wasn't. She said "Daddy told me to name her Ashley." Little things like that.
A song would come on the radio, a random song that isn't typically played, and she'd be like "This is one of daddy's favorite songs." I'd try to not crash the car (laughter).
It's kind of hard because she's special needs (Down Syndrome) and she has a hard time...she knows he's in "heaven" and things like that and would recognize him in a picture. But, telling her funny stories and what not, she doesn't really get it. So that kind of sucks to be honest. But I guess, that old saying "You can't miss something that you never had".....so she can't.
She did kindergarten twice. The first time she didn't say anything. The following year, being a year older, she was very adamant about me going (to special events with the Dads) saying "you're my mommy and my daddy. You do it all."
SO SHE UNDERSTOOD IT BETTER AT THAT AGE?
NOW THAT SHE'S 10, DOES SHE STILL GET THOSE MESSAGES?
"She hasn't really said anything recently."
NOW THAT IT'S BEEN 10 YEARS, WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK ON FINDING LOVE AGAIN? YOU SAID HE WAS YOUR SOULMATE. ARE YOU OPEN TO FALLING IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE ELSE?
"I'm dating now. I've been with someone about a year. And I've had other long term relationships over the years. I'm definitely open to it, and I don't wanna say I compare anybody that I date with him, but he was just so....and I'm not putting any of the guys I dated down....unique in and of himself. He brought the best out in me. He encouraged me, and not that I don't get encouraged now, but....
And there was no jealousy. Like, if me and the girls were going out, it was a non issue. We had so much fun, and again, not to say I don't have any fun now. But things are different now too. I'm a single parent with a child with special needs so we can't just say "Hey let's go to New York for the day!" I don't know how much that is (a part in it). There were times where I was honed in on finding a partner, craving for more kids and stuff like that, not wanting to get much older. But then, in reality, and time, it wasn't meant to be.
One guy I dated, we went looking at houses together and stuff like that. Maybe it was me, I stopped it with a reality check or not. I don't know."
HAVE ANY OF THE MEN YOU'VE DATED OVER THE YEARS FELT LIKE THEY COULDN'T MEASURE UP TO YOUR LATE HUSBAND?
"Yeah. Uh huh. Whether you've never been married, or even a teenager and just starting to date; you compare the second boyfriend to the first. I think it's always in the back of someone's head. And I've done it too, comparing to their exes or what have you. I'm not closed minded about it though(finding love). Like the relationship I'm in now...I'm just going with the flow. Wherever it goes, then so be it."