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I suspect my life was much like many of yours. Married for 15 years. Raising three kids. We were juggling two demanding careers and our kids’ sports schedules that often bordered on insane. We’d moved to a nicer home, with a better view, a few years ago. Our careers were progressing along and things seemed settled. The hard work of our early years was paying off. We were 40 and life was good.

I’m an attorney and spent years running my own small law office in my hometown. One of the most humbling experiences was being selected to serve as a district court judge, across all case types, at a relatively young age. I’d been on the bench for just over three years when I got an alarming call at work that sent me racing from chambers to the hospital, where my entire world turned upside down in a matter of 30 minutes. I held my husband’s hand in a crowded ER and am still stunned to this day to say that my strong, healthy, police-officer husband was pronounced dead from a heart attack on a normal Tuesday in May at the age of 40.

Who I was.

Adam and I met by chance in 2004. We were pulled from different Army National Guard units around the state to serve on the same tour of duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Our deployment lasted 18 months and it was all the time we needed to know that we wanted to build a life together. We wasted no time planning our wedding from Camp Liberty in Baghdad, Iraq, so that it took place within two months of our return to the U.S.

After a honeymoon in Jamaica, we got back to our interrupted schooling. I finished law school and Adam switched his major from education to criminal justice. He decided on our deployment to go into law enforcement and it was the right place for him. Over the next decade, our careers took quick upward trajectories. Adam rose to the rank of Lieutenant at the police department and I closed my law office to serve on the bench. Our family grew as well, and was complete with our son, two daughters, and a dog.

We sat for a few years in the nice give and take of a life that was busy, but solid. We loved to travel and made it a priority. We backpacked Europe together while finishing college, visiting as many countries as possible on our limited student budget. We saw Norway, England, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Iceland. Later in life, we vacationed with friends in Belize, Peru, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. We took an Alaskan cruise with our family and loved hitting up national parks with our kids, from Glacier National Park in Montana to Acadia National Park in Maine.

There were always adventures to be had. We worked hard and enjoyed life. But two weeks after my 41st birthday, everything changed.

It can be weird, the perfect, rosy glow that gets cast over the life we once had now that Adam is gone. News flash: it wasn’t perfect. We didn’t have it all figured out. We knew that we needed help in many ways, but the biggest, and easily the surest reason we stayed in the fight all those years together was because we had Jesus in our lives and in our marriage. We prayed out loud with our children at bedtime each night and made being part of a local church a priority. Knowing God’s mercies for us were new every morning gave us the grace to forgive each other many times and keep working every day in the places God planted us.

But now it’s all been ripped to shreds. Our beautiful life together is over and has left such an ache in me for what once was and can never be again.

I could wallow in the why. Why did this happen when all seemed to be going well and right in our lives? Why would He take such a good man, who loved his family, who served both his country and his community in a difficult profession? Why Adam? Why us?

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I choose instead to believe in the goodness of God, even in the midst of the worst season of my life. He was well aware of us before this - giving us blessings upon blessings in building the life, careers, and family we had.

He is well aware of me now, as a single parent, struggling to figure out where to go from here.

It became obvious I could not continue my role as a judge and care for my children the way I wanted to. They deserved a parent. An available and present parent. I am the only one left and my job was not flexible. I resigned a few months ago and now I am home. Caring for my children. Waiting and wondering what is next.

I don’t know yet, but I do know that God is close to the brokenhearted and I’m not walking this difficult path alone. Thanks for joining me in the journey.

The Whiskey Widow Blog

Life Before Loss