My husband and I were married less than two years, and we were still adjusting to married life. We had just moved into our new home when I found out I was pregnant. When the doctor told us we were having a girl, my husband was elated – he had grown up in a house full of boys. Every weekend we went shopping for the things Ariel would need when we brought her home from the hospital. Brian loved decorating her room – although he overdid it on the pink a little bit. He was a proud daddy. Every night he read a story to her through my swollen belly and told her how much he loved her and couldn’t wait to see her. Sometimes she responded with a good swift kick. But a week after the baby shower – six weeks before Ariel’s due date – tragedy struck. Brian had forgotten to set the alarm clock and when he didn’t come out to the kitchen to have his breakfast, I went into the bedroom to wake him up. But he didn’t stir. I shook him. I shouted at him, “Brian get up.” There was no response. My husband was dead.
My perfect world changed instantly and abruptly. I was left with an indelible gut-wrenching pain in my heart that wouldn’t go away. A pain so deep that it shook me to the core. I was filled with fear, anxiety, and hopelessness all at the same time. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. The love of my life – my best friend – the man who was to be my life-long partner – was gone. I would have to raise our daughter alone. Ariel would never know her father – and Brian would never know his daughter. As Ariel’s due date approached, I tried to feel joy. But all I felt was despair.
I tried to find comfort from my family and friends and even my church. But comfort was nowhere to be found. No matter what anyone said to me, it was wrong. I got angry at everybody and snapped at the people I loved most. I looked for signs of Brian everywhere but found nothing. It just made me angrier. How could he leave me, especially now? I asked myself. Prayer didn’t help. Grief counseling didn’t help. Nor did going to church – even God couldn’t comfort me in my grief and I was angry at him. So I stopped going. If only I could lay down and die in my sleep like Brian did, I thought night after night. I thought about ending my life many times. But then I’d look down at my huge belly and knew I had a purpose for living. I had a job to do. Ariel kept me grounded. She kept me sane during the insanity that swirled around me.
I couldn’t overcome the fear of going on with my life without my husband. Brian and I had good jobs. Together we would have made it. But not alone. Not on one salary. With the cost of raising a baby, daycare, and the hefty mortgage I had to pay, I worried constantly about losing the house. Brian and I loved our little home – it was the perfect place to raise our baby. I decided then to go back to my church – I hadn’t yet gotten over my anger at God, but I was broken and needed help. From that point forward, I relied heavily on my faith – as shaky as it was. It was the turning point in my life.
It’s been a year since Brian died. I see so much of him in Ariel. She has his blue eyes – big, beautiful, and soulful. I find hope and a future in her eyes. I have a lot of love and support around me – more than I expected. A lovely woman from my church volunteered to watch Ariel until my mother gets home from work. Then my mother takes over until I get home – I get home around 8 pm. I had to force myself to go back to work. It wasn’t easy. But when I concentrate on my work, I don’t think about my loneliness so much. And the pain subsides for a little while.
I still cry a lot, and I’m working on my anger. I’m no longer angry at God for taking Brian away from me. But I’m having a little trouble getting over my anger at Brian for dying. Realistically, I know it’s not his fault. He didn’t know he had heart disease. And who in their right mind would think they’re going to die in their twenties? I know things like this happen. I just never thought it would happen to us.
Ariel is growing rapidly. Just the other day she took her first step. I saw Brian standing there, watching her – at least I think I did. He was standing alongside me, looking down, and smiling at his daughter. I know he’ll be watching over her every day of her life. He’ll be there at her graduation ceremonies. And he’ll walk down the aisle with her on her wedding day. Just thinking about it brings me joy and makes me smile. I know in my heart – with a little help from above – and a little more time – Ariel and I will be happy and our lives will go on – as will our love for Brian.