A Letter to a Loved One

5 min read
Apr 24, 2024 9:00:00 AM

Dear Lorraine, 

I miss you. 

You’ve been gone ten years, and I’ve been thinking of ways to honor your memory while acknowledging the duality of losing you. On one hand, I still have so much pain and anger to process relating to your death. And on the other, I have grown so much as a person as a result.

So, I’m writing you this letter and sharing it with others because it is a part of my healing, and I hope it will help others to heal too. 

Lorraine and Mike

Zombieland got it right with Rule #32 – “Enjoy the little things.” Life is a journey, not a destination. Easy to say.  Easy to forget.  Looking back ten years ago, I was sad, alone, and scared about how I was going to raise two young boys struggling with the loss of their mom. 

Last weekend I was thinking about how I was sad and alone again, yet my life has been so rich. The boys have grown into amazing young men. When you said you had “No Fear” about the boys and I being okay, I’ll admit I wasn’t convinced. I even tattooed it on my left wrist in your handwriting to remind me.  

"no fear" tattoo on arm

Fast forward to today, the thing that brings me the most joy is simply spending time with Ben and Tom. We still have dinner together every Sunday night, and it’s the little things that I’ve come to appreciate. 

Last week at dinner, Tom asked if I wanted to watch Episode 1 of Kaiju No. 8 with him on Crunchyroll (yes, all our comic collecting has transitioned to manga and anime).

The week prior, Ben and I went to see Monkey Man - a new action movie with Dev Patel. I’m his go-to for obscure violent action movies like Monkey Man, Sisu, and Violent Night, which is my dream come true.   

To be clear, it hasn’t all been easy. You used to say that cancer sucks donkey balls. Well, so does being a widow with young kids. But I’ve learned that the best you can do some days is curl up in a ball and cry, and that’s okay. This has been where much of my growth has come from. 

No shock to you, I had some issues before you got sick. I distinctly remember us having a disagreement where I said something like “At this point in my life, it’s too late to change.” It turns out I was totally wrong.

I’ve now been through psychotherapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, kundalini somatic therapy, energy healing, and more.  It’s been like Bruce Lee’s Tao of Jeet Kune Do, but instead of evolving and changing to suit my needs and abilities as a martial artist, I’m doing it for my mental and spiritual health.   

In the end, I’ve learned the opportunity to grow never ends. That some days suck more than others, but life is full of amazing opportunities when you are ready for them. You just need to keep going. This leads me to talk about how while I’m alone now, that wasn’t always the case.  

I know you asked me to wait at least six months before I got remarried and to not let my second wife shut out the boys, and I’m proud to report the mission was accomplished on both fronts. 

One of my favorite related moments was getting a call from your brother because you told him to “tell me when the time was right that you didn’t want me to be alone and that I shouldn’t feel bad about being in another relationship.” Neither of us could figure out if he was supposed to call when the “time was right to talk to me,” or if the “time was right for me to be in a relationship,” but we agreed since I was already dating someone, it was the right time. Next time, you might want to be a bit more explicit with your instructions. Or at least be better with your punctuation.   

Thanks to Evan, who also got you and I together, I met a wonderful person who had also been through a similar trauma, and we’ve supported each other a lot over the last ten years. While we are now both separately working through some things, she has been an important reason why I am able to write this letter.   

Another important reason, and again, thanks to Evan, is Gilfoyle. Gil-what you say? Gilfoyle is my dog. He is a small-medium Labradoodle from the same breeder Evan got Jimmer. Originally, he was meant to provide Ben with comfort going through his OCD but became my dog after two days. 

Photo of a dog on a couch

In hindsight, it was exactly what we needed. Ben and Tom are like his grandparents. They get all the benefits and pick up none of the poo. I’ve learned that rubbing his belly is one of the most comforting things on the planet along with the unconditional love from a dog. Which leads me to… 

My two least favorite things about being a widow. 

  1. When people correct me and say I should say widower (say widower fast 5 times and then tell me what you would say). 
  2. Unsolicited advice on parenting and relationships as a widow. I don’t know if you remember years ago when I was working with a group of early childhood development experts, but I asked them how to be a good dad and what I needed to do for the boys. Their simple advice was to spend time with them, read to them, love them unconditionally, and put enough guardrails in place so they wouldn’t die in a preventable accident. Basically, not letting them play in traffic, but also not hovering over them so they wouldn’t skin their knees the odd time. I mention this because what works for kids, works for widows (and widowers, grrrrrr).  

For everyone who has a widow in their life, and wonders what they can do to support them, my advice is:   

  1. Spend time with them, just like you would have before they became widows. 
  2. Read to them, but if they can already read, then invite them to learn fun things with you, like pickleball and wake surfing. 
  3. Love them unconditionally (like Gilfoyle). 
  4. Keep them from harm (i.e. substance abuse, suicide, etc. if you see things that concern you). 
  5. And the rest they’ll figure out on their own, even if it is a little messy at times. I know this is true, because us widows find each other, and compare notes. 

With that said, I’ll always be grateful for the amazing support I’ve received over the last ten years. At times it has come from the most unlikely of places, but it has always been there when I’ve needed it. 

I’ll end with a three-Kleenex moment I had recently. Ben shared with me his first published writing. It is a story about you in a book of creative non-fiction he helped put together. The story is called “Like a Star,” because you “burned brightly, fiercely, like a star: anyone who came into your orbit was touched by your presence.” 

You were snatched from us too soon, but I am grateful for my 21 years in your orbit while you were alive and for having been forever touched by your presence. 

Lorraine and Mike

I still miss you. 



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