A Better Man

I went to the bar the other night. Alone. There’s that word again.

Things were overwhelming so I took a walk to the nearest watering hole.

The new Queen movie, Bohemian Rhapsody, has this great line:

‘The human condition requires a bit of anesthesia’

Truer words.

As I sat I thought about a time before Christine.

I wasn’t a great guy. Not to say I was terrible, but I wasn’t great.

I was much more self centered. I didn’t have a lot of concern for others. I was impulsive. I lied all the time.

Being with Christine made me a different person. A better person. She was my catalyst.

And she didn’t do it through nagging or arguing or any forceful method.

She did it by believing in me. She trusted me. She saw something in me no one else ever had.

I loved her for that. Love her for that.

It made me want to be the man she thought I was, or at least could be.

It didn’t happen overnight. I was still working on it when she left me. It’s a process. But improvements were noticeable pretty quickly.

My mom: Ben has changed so much. How did you do it?

Christine: I didn’t.

She was wrong of course. Her love was what did it.

I’m telling you all this because I was struck by a thought sitting in that nasty little dive bar. I can be anyone I want to be now.

Of course I always had that ability. I could have remained as I was before Christine and for all I know she would have miserably powered through. Or just left. Who knows.

But in honor of my love for her I became a better man.

Isn’t that a funny term? ‘Better man’. I think we (as men) miss the point so often. A Better Man isn’t someone who just brings in more money or is a provider or whatever the fuck. At least not in my mind.

A better man understands his job is to give. To give unconditionally. To give when it’s easy, to give when it’s hard. To show kindness. To be vulnerable. To take everything on his shoulders. To give and give and give.

And never ask for a single thing in return.

To do the dishes. To cook. To clean. To be MAN enough to take on everything and anything.

To me, that’s a man.

To stretch, to take a breath, and to carry more.

I don’t have that anchor anymore. Yes, I have my kids. It’s not the same. It really isn’t. I can be a great dad and still be totally self centered in the rest of my life. Love of a child is transformative, but not in the divine way. Not like a man and woman entering into a union by choice. At least not for me.

See, she chose me and I chose her.

So now what? Without her, without that reason, what do I do?

I can go back to the Other Guy. He had a lot of fun. Too much, probably.

But isn’t that dishonoring my love for her? If I return to my bachelorhood, or some semblance of it (I really am too old for that shit), what was the point?

So I look into the proverbial mirror.

I used to look at myself in a real mirror and say ‘Who are you?’

Now I ask ‘who do you want to be?’

If I regress, if I become someone who wasn’t chasing her love, trying to be worthy of her, then aren’t I saying she didn’t matter that much?

The worst thing is I’ve realized through events external to Christine I wasn’t even the man I thought I was.

Yes, thoughtful in my actions, but not thoughtful in my words.

Selfless in my actions but selfish in my thoughts.

So there it is again. The choice. Do I strive to be the man I wanted to be for her, the man I thought I was? Or do I take the easier path?

Me: Hey mirror, I choose her.

Get Up, Get Dressed, Get Moving

Saturday was difficult. I woke up feeling very low. I couldn’t summon the strength to get myself out of bed. It was too much effort to even think about it.

I can’t tell you why Saturday of all days was like this. What combination of factors was making me unwilling to start my day? The holidays could be part of it. Maybe it’s because this is the first day in months that I didn’t have anything I needed to do. No work, no soccer, no scouts, no plans. Nothing.

I used to cherish these rare days. Rather, Christine and I did. Now it’s just giving my mind more free time.

I lay there. I flipped through every social media platform I use, trying to find distraction. Nothing worthwhile.

That’s a big thing right now. Trying to find anything to take my mind off her for a few minutes. Not ignore her like before, but just a few moments of respite.

I rely on friends, but I don’t want to over burden them, so now I’ve started conversations with people I’ve never met in real life. Weird, I know. Some of these people are Christine’s friends from work, some are people that reached out to me after reading something here, there’s people from the ‘wids’ group I’m in on Facebook.

Then the same thing happens. I stop sending messages because I don’t want to wear that person down, but of course I’m so excited when they reach out.

Weird stuff.

A lot of it is also desire to have an intimate relationship with someone. By that I mean a companion. Someone I can bounce texts with, talk about the weekend, how much it sucks to pay a mortgage, fatherhood stuff.

I don’t have one of those.

After social media failed me I watched the slideshow video on my phone. This always hurts so much. It’s also one of the only ways I can really connect with her. The live pictures allow for sound and a couple seconds of video.

I didn’t realize until she passed away I didn’t have any video with her, or very little at least. These tiny snippets are what I have left.

In one she’s taking a selfie, and makes this funny face suddenly.

Today I laughed. I haven’t done that before.

My favorite one is where she’s looking at the camera and then her eyes drift down and this incredibly intent smile spreads across her face. I smiled back.

I needed to get up, get the kids food, pack for my trip. I couldn’t compel myself.

Me: Get up, get dressed, get moving

I repeated it. I repeated it again. Ten more times.

I put my phone down and got up.

It took me 45 minutes to shower and get dressed. I usually do this in less than 15. I kept forgetting what I was doing. But I did it.

T and E were watching TV. I got them something to eat.

My hair needed to be cut. I walked outside. I drove to the barber shop.

And kept driving. I was listening to music that reminded me of Christine and decided in that moment I would go visit her gravesite. Which is dumb because half of her ashes are sitting on her nightstand. Whatever.

I was listening to Billie Eilish ‘you should see me in a crown’. I’ve been listening to it a lot. There’s one line that sticks out everytime:

‘Tell me which one is worse

Living or dying first’

I don’t pretend to know what she intends with that lyric, but I answer ‘living’ every time.

Wid brain in effect. I can’t keep a straight narrative.

I pulled up to the gravesite and turned off my car. When I do that the CarPlay stops playing and the radio comes through the speakers.

‘Happier’ by Bastille and Marshmello was playing. Of course. Of course it fucking was.

‘I will go go go’.

I had a breakdown, holding onto my steering wheel like a life preserver.

But it also felt… special? Like it was the right song.

This is the first time I’ve visited since the burial. Did you know there isn’t a manual about what you’re supposed to do?

Me: Hey Babe, a lot’s been happening…

I was only there for probably 15 minutes. Should probably bring a chair next time. I mostly told her about what’s going on with the kids, what she’s missing out on and then finally asking her for some comfort and relief.

Strangely enough, I felt better. I kept moving.

The night has definitely been better. Got food for K to eat while I’m gone, ran a few errands, got back to the barbershop.

My hairdresser today was trying to convince me to go to a medium. That was WEIRD.

She was so into it.

Sometimes I’m thankful for these easier stretches, like tonight. The problem is they also give me hope that it’s getting easier, and then it doesn’t.

I’m flying out early for a week working in Costa Rica. Just like Ireland there will be many Christine reminders. More goodbyes to say.

On to the next day.

Tradition Day

We made it through Thanksgiving, mostly by cancelling the entire holiday.

In fact, we had a remarkably good time all things considered.

When I woke up I had a few minutes of misery to myself, but the kids and I had plans laid out to celebrate on our own terms.

We dubbed the day ‘No-Effs-Given’ with the intention of going out and doing whatever we’d like.

My office never closes. We have people onsite 365 days a year, so the kids and I decided to go hang out with them at work and share a meal with them. This had the added benefit of lots of time to play with the office dogs.

Then it was off to the movies to see Ralph Breaks the Internet. It’s a touching movie and very funny in places. We enjoyed it, even if it made me feel even more insecure regarding my issues of relying on other people for my happiness (watch the movie, you’ll see what I mean).

We were planning to get Chinese next but noticed the mall was open so we went on an unplanned and super expensive shopping spree. Retail therapy is still therapy, right?

Then Chinese food. We were stuffed. So of course it made sense to get stuff to make sundaes.

We had left the house around 11am and got home at about 8pm. It was a good time. We put a little clip together to share our day.

But when we got home everyone dispersed. We all left for our individual rooms and spent the evening alone. No one said anything but I’m sure it was the same. Absence again.

Then today got here. I don’t know why I hadn’t given it more thought previously.

Thanksgiving is a holiday. But the day after Thanksgiving is Tradition Day.

We’ve always spent the Friday after getting ready for Christmas.

First, the annual tree killing. Then lunch. When we get home I drag all the decorations out of storage and we spend the evening transforming the house into a Christmas wonderland. Her inside, me outside. She’d bring me coffee (usually with a little whiskey) to warm me up during the hours long process. I hated decorating outside, but she wanted it so I did it for her.

We’d always argue about the tree when I tried to get it straight in the stand.

Everyone would get a gift, an ornament to put on the tree.

Leftovers for dinner, a holiday movie.

The kids would be ushered off to bed and Christine and I would sit together in a dark living room lit only by the tree, decorations and the glow of the fire.

We tried to do it this year. We went and got a tree and had lunch.

T, E and I went to a trampoline place with a friend and jumped for awhile. That was the high point of the game.

I finally put the tree up around 7 tonight. We just wrapped some lights around it and called it good. I don’t know if we’ll pull out the ornaments. I don’t care to.

Throughout the entire day I tried to move forward. Step, step, step, step.

How many people cry at tree farms? What the hell?

I want this season to end. I just want to be out the other side.

“Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything”

I’m so tired of hurting, of being blindsided by days like today.

I miss her. I miss her so much.

I didn’t have to use my AK

I got to say it was a good day.

I mean not awesome. Good is definitely on a scale. But from devastated over the weekend to living is ‘good’.

I opened my laptop and worked. I cleaned. I made dinner. My laundry is done. I hung out on the couch with the kids instead of hiding in my room. I don’t think a single tear fell.

I guess that’s how ‘good’ is defined. I’ll take it.

The kids and I planned for our F You Holidays Thanksgiving festivities. I’ll post more about that later.

We’re also thinking of doing a Christmas card after all. I’m thinking it will be the five of us flipping of ‘2018’. Still trying to decide.

When I thought about Christine I thought of good times.

When we were in Norway I left the bathroom with wet hands and brushed her cheek.

Me: I forgot to wipe.

I stopped when I realized I was supposed to say ‘I forgot to wash’.

She lost it. I lost it. Another one of those times our sides hurt from laughing so hard.

Christine was never more beautiful than when she was laughing.

One morning we got ready and left the apartment we were renting. We got to a nearby Church that was supposed have some cool art.

She looked at me.

Christine: WTF happened to your hair?

I had out some product in my hair and gotten it all the way through but didn’t style it so it was all sticking straight up. I went to fix it.

Christine: Wait wait. I need a picture first. What a dumbass.

More laughing. We did that so often.

That’s about all I’ve got.

I got to say it was a ‘good’ day.


I never listened to music much. I don’t hate music or anything. I just rarely played music for myself when I was alone.

Christine, on the other hand, loved music. She loved to sing songs in the car, listen to music on her headphones, blast something while we were cleaning.

When she left the silence was deafening (cliche alert).

So I’ve started to listen to music. A lot. It’s always playing. I dance to it, sing to it, travel to it. It’s become my constant companion. It’s a way I keep her close.

Some of the music is upbeat. I’ve listened to a lot of Queen lately. And alternative. And pretty much anything people suggest to me.

Some of the music is sad. I hear things that remind me of her in so many lyrics.

Yesterday someone suggested I listen to a song called ‘If We Were Vampires’ by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit.

I had been suffering from a condition I’ve termed ‘crystipation’. I felt absolutely dead inside after burying Christine. So profoundly sad. Deep, horrible longing. I was too sad to do anything, let alone cry. Just existing in void.

Then I listened to this song and it dropped me. In a good way. The emotions that had fled into nothing came back. I was hurting, but I was alive.

They’re singing about how if lovers lived forever the moments wouldn’t matter. How immortality would lead to indifference, but because we have such a short time together we have to cherish every moment with the person we love.

‘Maybe time running out is a gift
I’ll work hard ’til the end of my shift
And give you every second I can find
And hope it isn’t me who’s left behind

It’s knowing that this can’t go on forever
Likely one of us will have to spend some days alone’

It really struck me then. Every marriage is intended to end this way, with one person left behind, longing for the other.

Kind of fucked up, right? We do this knowing the outcome is sorrow.

Why? Why would we set ourselves up for this?

Because the moments we get to have before are worth the pain at the end.

The misery comes, but it’s a divine misery. It’s so hard, and so painful and so awful because what we had was so perfectly beautiful.

That doesn’t exactly give me solace. I’m not cured. But it is helping me hold her tighter, us tighter. All the best parts of us.

And then something else happened. I’m part of this group on Facebook made up entirely of ‘wids’. It’s a terrible club to be a part of, and I’ve come to need these people, none of whom I’ve ever met.

They talk about the person they lost, their recovery. They have some of the darkest humor I’ve ever witnessed.

One woman posted a long explanation of her beliefs about afterlife, and how thankful she was for her person. How before he left us he saved her.

Christine: I need you to save me.

She said that so often in our 18 years together. And I would. I’d stretch, I’d take a breath, and I’d carry more.

As weak as I can be, I was her strength in so many of those dark moments.

‘It’s knowing that this can’t go on forever
Likely one of us will have to spend some days alone’

I realized it had to be me. She couldn’t have done this.

Yes, we should have had so much more time together. So many more of those moments to cherish. So many more times laughing together, crying together. Being together.

But one of us had to go first and it had to be her. It’s the last gift I gave her. To be here when she’s gone.

So I stretch, I take a breath, and I carry more.


It’s been six months since that terrible day. I’ve tried to fill you in on what I’ve done and how I’ve experienced in the post love era.

There are a few notable moments I didn’t mention.

One of my friends nearly died. She had a procedure that should have been minor but complications kept her in the hospital. Her husband later told me he was shouting at Christine for trying to take his wife. I think that’s how he explained it.

It was terrifying for all of us. I don’t think anyone could have taken another death in our small, close knit group. She recovered. I was so thankful. I was also incredibly jealous. That sounds so horrible, but it made me think even more about my own loss. Why did everyone else get to have a person? I know, I’m selfish.

Then there was the night I was on the edge of joining Christine. It only happened once, me feeling that way. I was at our friend’s bar celebrating their 10th anniversary in business. All of our friends and acquaintances were there, having a great time. And I just started to feel so alone. Christine should have been there, but she wasn’t and never would be. It was also the first time several people had seen me since she passed away, so I had the whole widower leprosy thing going on as well.

I just kept coming back to joining her. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I moved away from my friends started messaging her, telling her I didn’t think I could make it through another night without her. And then a friend texted me this:


I know, it’s ridiculous. And it pulled me completely out of that line of thinking and I’ve never gone back.

There was the benefit for Crisis Connections we held in Christine’s honor. A friend did an amazing job getting stuff to auction off and raffle and we raised thousands. I even stood up on a table and gave a short speech. I thought it would be a horribly sad night but it wasn’t. It was a great night.

There was Halloween in Ireland where I was the one who got the ring from the barmbrack bread, supposedly signifying I would be married within the year. It was incredibly awkward but I kept the ring as a promise that things will get better someday.


I went out with the team that night to have a couple pints. When they learned about Christine they told me of an Irish tradition wherein a glass of the departed’s favorite drink was set at the table and a spot left open for them.

They bought her a glass of pinot grigio we kept a place at the table for her.

I also failed to tell you about the most important of the revelations I had. I realized I hadn’t mourned Christine. I pushed her aside so much trying to stay away from the bad feelings and just bottled it all up.

So I decided to let myself feel it. And holy shit how I’ve felt it. I’ve been a total wreck for three weeks. Just constantly breaking down over the littlest thing. But that might be OK.

Oh, and I found a therapist.

So there we are. All caught up. I’m alone. My wife’s sadness overwhelmed her and she took her own life. My kids lost their mom. The world lost the most beautiful person it had.

No happy ending. Not yet. Not even sure if you can have one of those in a situation like this. I mean, Christine clearly can’t. Can I?

I don’t know what’s coming from here. The pain has been overwhelming the last couple days since we buried her. I know it won’t get better, but it will get different. I’ll keep moving forward and keep my memory of her with me everyday. I just need to remember the good ones. Hold those. I’ll probably share them here from time to time.

I’ve heard from an astoundingly large number of people since starting this blog, a lot of them have said me telling this story is helping them through the same darkness Christine suffered from.

I’ll keep writing, you keep reading. We’ll get through this shit show together.

Yours in love,


Musical Interlude – Happier, Bastille and Marshmello

Hey Babe,

Yesterday was so much harder that I thought it would be. It’s like I lost you all over again. It’s all so raw and painful right now. So final.

I’m empty. I’m totally destroyed. I really don’t think I can do this without you. There’s all these people reaching out to me and offering to be there but it isn’t enough. It doesn’t lift any of the pain. There’s no respite.

I’m just sitting here totally dead.

I can’t stop thinking about you. About how much you must have hurt.

That’s why I chose that song. Happier. It isn’t a happy song. It’s someone telling a person they love that they love them so much they have to leave. That they have to go away so their beloved can finally be happy.

Every time I hear it I cry. And it’s every where.

I imagine this is what you thought. That last night when you were all alone.

Know that means I’ll have to leave
Lately, I’ve been, I’ve been thinking
I want you to be happier, I want you to be happier
So I’ll go, I’ll go
I will go, go, go
So I’ll go, I’ll go
I will go, go, go
Lately, I’ve been, I’ve been thinking
I want you to be happier, I want you to be happier
Even though I might not like this
I think that you’ll be happier, I want you to be happier
I think it’s what you thought. I think you were being selfless. The ultimate sacrifice for me. I think you were trying to save me from you.
You must have been so alone. So horribly sad. So totally destroyed. I wish I had been there for you, to tell you again that you’re the reason I live.
And babe, you were so totally wrong. It is so much worse without you.
I don’t know if I can make it. I don’t think I can do this.
I’m not strong enough. I’m so very weak. I need you. There’s no way to replace this. It’s just emptiness. An open wound. A bottomless pit. A void.
An absolute absence.
Great pain is repetitive. Grief is repetitive. Sherman Alexie wrote that. It’s perfect in the most horrible way.

I can’t believe how much I hurt. How dark it all is. The pain is unbearable. There’s no escape.

I thought it was getting better and now it’s so much worse. I am totally alone without you. Incomplete. Broken. I need you.

I am so sorry.

I love you.


Hey Babe,

We’re having your graveside service today. It’s going to be a very small group, just family. I don’t think we’ll do much. Everyone is coming over to the new house afterwards for a small reception. I got all the food from Costco. No pinwheels. You hated those so much.

I also finally picked up your ashes yesterday, the ones we’re not burying. I put a little aside for each of the kids, some for me for a tattoo (I’m getting the Tlingit love birds one you wanted so much), and then we’re going to spread the rest in Dingle. I hope that’s the right place. You always said ‘My heart belongs in Dingle’. That was my favorite day with you.

Right now you’re sitting on the nightstand on your side of the bed. It’s weird.

I realized yesterday that I haven’t done much to tell your story. Not with this blog or anywhere else really. I’m sorry. You were right, by the way. I am selfish. Or actually thoughtless.

I’m not selfish. If someone asks me for something I give. I do a crappy job of thinking about other people though. I need someone to tell me to think about them.

Just like how all I talk about is how much I hurt but I don’t talk about you. I’m so sorry I didn’t listen to you more.

I’m going to try and tell your story. I’m sure I’ll forget stuff. I’ll probably tell people some stuff you wouldn’t want them to know. Sorry in advance.

OK, here goes.

Christine was born in Sitka, AK. When you live in SE Alaska and you’re on Native healthcare you have to go where the facilities are. In her mom’s case that meant travel from Petersburg to Sitka.

She grew up in Petersburg (with a short 6 month stay in Skagway). They lived in a trailer, mostly because they had to rely only on her mom’s salary because her dad just isn’t a good guy. In fact, he’s terrible. He’s a monster.

This overshadowed her life. It would anyone’s, but in her case she grew up very mistrustful of people. She was always looking for hidden motives and rarely believed people had her best interest at heart.

However, she did have some people in her life that loved her a lot. Her mom and grandfather were on team Christine from the beginning.

She was a pretty girl and had a lot of neighborhood friends. She wasn’t much of a student.

She was also fiercely proud of the fact that she started commercial fishing when she was in 2nd grade and would regularly bring it up when people were complaining about how hard life is.

As she got older she became sadder, and with that came weight gain, and with weight gain came more sadness.

Kids were cruel to her. She was a Native girl in a town populated by Norwegians, some of them incredibly racist. There were times she wasn’t allowed in homes of her friends because she was ‘dirty’. They also picked on her because of her weight.

Kid: Tubby tubby, 2 x 4, grease your hips to get through the door

She told me that story many times.

Her father never paid her for fishing so she started working when she was 14 at the local Trading Union. She also worked at a pizza place making desserts and espresso.

Sadness was a regular part of her youth. She talked about it a lot. She also talked about how her grandfather and mother protected her from her dad. They were bright spots in a dark world.

Christine graduated when she was 17 and moved to Washington to attend beauty school. When she got here she found out that the world was a much bigger place and that people liked her and her sense of humor. She started going to clubs and got into the rave scene. She lost a lot of weight.

She met a guy in the navy, a pretty terrible person who treated her like crap. Because of her feelings about herself she didn’t think she could do better and stuck with this guy for a lot longer than she should. He was the only person she ever dated besides me.

School didn’t last long, one quarter. Christine found jobs to keep her apartment, eventually landing a sales job at Tiny Computers. She was told by her manager that her job was to stand at the front of the store and look pretty to draw people in and then he’d sell the computer and give her credit.

That manager eventually left and she learned to sell on her own. She was promoted to Lead Sales, similar to an Assistant Manager role. The new job was at the showroom where I worked. We both applied and she got it.

I hated her instantly. I was also incredibly attracted to her.

After a few days of bullying from me Christine pulled me outside and asked me what my problem was. This little 19 year old woman got in my face. I apologized and we became friends. And then more than friends.

She later told me she couldn’t believe how long it took me to ask her out. She would do things like lean over me so that her breasts would push against my arm, laugh at my jokes when they weren’t funny and get into things she knew I had interest in.

I wanted to ask her out very badly. I had talked to a friend shortly after meeting her,

Me: She bleeds sexuality

I was scared. She was super intimidating.

I finally asked her to come over and cut my hair. She agreed. I asked for frosted tips. It was 2000. Don’t judge.

We kissed that night. She slept next to me on my twin mattress, both awkwardly fully clothed.

And we never looked back.

I’m pretty sure Christine got pregnant the first time we had sex. I asked her to marry me a couple months after that.

I used a $2 ring I bought at a stand in the mall.

She said yes.

These things never work. She was 19. I was 21. It was doomed. But we did it.

I was upset with her for getting pregnant. I was not nice.

She planned a trip home after K was born.

Christine: How long should I stay?

Me: I don’t care

And then something happened. We fell in love.

No that’s not right. She loved me. I fell madly deeply in love with her. It was a holiday weekend. Labor Day? I don’t know for sure.

We had such loud sex the cops were called. That’s pretty personal but it’s a great story.

It was HOT. The windows were open. When we were done-

Cops: Renton PD. We need you to keep it down. We’ve had several noise complaints.

How long had they been standing there listening? We laughed uncontrollably.

K was born.

Two weeks later we were married at the Issaquah courthouse in front of my parents and her mom.

She took that trip back to Alaska. I missed her so much. Every minute.

I’m making this about me again.

She tried to be a good mom. I was out of work and staying home with K. She worked everyday and brought in all of the money.

I got a job. We found a place to rent. She worked delivering papers in the middle of the night so K didn’t need daycare.

Her grandfather’s health was failing. She wanted to be around him. I wanted an adventure. We decided to move to Alaska.

We struggled at first. The child support for B was crippling. Christine worked hard. First at a bank, then at the assisted living facility. I did better. We bought a house ‘out the road’. The property touched the ocean. It was ours.

I started traveling for work. Her depression got worse. Then she started taking medication. The medication made her not care about anything. I’d get home and find out K hadn’t been to school while I was gone.

We wanted another kid. It was her dream. We tried and tried but found out she had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. This meant she should not be able to get pregnant. And then she did.

T was born. Christine held her every minute she could. All the time. Even the slightest noise from T and Christine would pick her up and hold her close.

She also wanted a boy.

Me: I don’t want to have any kids after I turn 30

She took that as a challenge.

E was born 12 months and two weeks after T.

We had a full family. She had the family she always wanted.

I lost my job. We moved back to Seattle.

Christine wanted to chase her dream of being a hairdresser. We didn’t have the resources to put her through school but we did it anyways. I always gave her anything she asked for. Absolutely anything.

She finished school and went to work. Six months in she was a salon manager. Six months after that she was running 6 stores.

I am so impressed by her. I don’t remember all of the steps of her career through the years but she just went for it. She was the first person in her family to get promoted. And she just kept doing it.

Her hands started to hurt from cutting hair and she wanted to quit. She also wanted weight loss surgery. We were in a position to do it. We had to work hard for six months to prove she cared enough to do it. She was in the gym 3-4 times a week. She changed her diet. Like always, she worked her ass off.

The surgery was scary. It isn’t a small one. I walked six miles while I waited to hear how it went. The doctor came out and told me it went well.

The weight fell off. She was so happy. She was so so happy. Everything was perfect.

We bought a house. We loved more. We loved so hard.

It was all so good.

And then it wasn’t. Christine started to get jealous. She thought I was having an affair. She was convinced.

I wasn’t. Just so everyone knows. But she was sure.

I stopped talking to anyone from work outside of work hours. I did everything I could to prove to her I was only into her. But it didn’t go away.

She got a new job. It was a temp position. Then it was permanent. Then she got promoted.

She was insanely popular at work. Everyone loved her so much. It’s not hard to understand why.

At home the fights came more frequently. She would get so mad at me. Anything could lead to it. She would bring up things from 5, 10, 15 years before.

She started cutting people from her life. One slight and they were gone. It kept getting worse.

She started telling me the same thing.

Christine: I want you to find someone else. Why won’t you just find someone to make you happy?

She didn’t believe the person I loved more than anything else in the world was her. She hated herself. It got worse.

When she got mad she would leave. She would sleep in the car. She would go to the bar. She would buy wine and just drink. So much.

She started hiding her drinking from me. I would find airline bottles and boxes of wine hidden all over the place.

And then Norway. We agreed she would seek help when we got home. She pleaded with me to sit in her sessions because she said she would lie otherwise. It was all set.

And then she didn’t make it home.

Christine was passionate. She cared so much. She wanted the world to be how it should. She was furious it wasn’t that way.

Christine was popular. Everyone gravitated to her. She was magnetic. She made you want her to be your friend.

Christine was funny. No, she was hilarious. I’ve never met a person I could laugh harder with. I’ve never met someone who always made me laugh. We spent so many moments in time crying because we couldn’t stop laughing. Bent over, doubled over. Painful laughing.

Christine was loving. She cared so much for our kids. It broke her heart when B was hurting so far away. She would defend me and the kids against everything and everyone. She always took our side.

Christine was beautiful. She was beautiful before her surgery. She never believed that I could love her and find her beautiful. She has always been the most gorgeous woman I’ve ever met.

Christine was smart. She succeeded when she should have failed. She was the most incredible person I’ve ever met.

Christine was broken. She thought in black and white, and the black kept taking more space.

Babe. I hope I did this right. I hope I told your story. I can’t include everything. I can’t expect people who didn’t know you to understand how incredible you were. You amazed me. You did what no one should have been able to do. You said ‘fuck it’ and just did it.

I miss you so much. The kids miss you so much.

Christine: I want you to find someone you can be happy with. Why won’t you find someone you can be happy with?

You are that person. I was so happy. I’m sorry I couldn’t make you understand that.

Babe, I loved you.


I love you. You are everything to me. I would do anything to have one more minute with you. Sacrifice anything.

I’d tell you I’m sorry. I’d tell you you’re the best thing I ever had. I’d tell you you’re the best thing the world had.

You are my everything.

I hope you’re better now. I hope you’ve found the peace you couldn’t find.

I miss you so fucking much.


Last night I dreamed of Christine. I hadn’t seen her since very early on the morning of October 22nd.

I was the one who was going to die. We all knew it was coming. It was my choice. I wrote a letter to all of my loved ones and everyone was celebrating my departure as a natural and happy event. I told the kids goodbye, that I loved them. Then I told Christine good bye. She saw me off and smiled at me as I made my way to the Undiscovered Country.

Me: I love you!

Her: I love you!

I woke up and wept.


This trip has been good. It’s been great. It’s been terrible.

We went hard for three days at theme parks. Universal, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom have been conquered. It was a lot of smiles, exhaustion, fun and being together as a family. Of what’s left of our family.

No matter what we did it was impossible to escape The Missing. We really are totally incomplete.

The quote from the other day ‘Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything’ sums up the cloud over all of our time together. There’s this hole. And we are unwhole. I don’t care if that isn’t a word, it perfectly describes us.

We joked a lot. Trying to keep things light. We laughed at the people with their matching t-shirts. The Cult of Disney. They read ‘Best anniversary ever’ with a matching shirt ‘Most expensive anniversary ever’. There were ‘I’m with him’ ‘I’m with her’ with Mickey fingers pointing at the other person. ‘Bride’ ‘Groom’. So many variations.

The girls thought I should get a shirt with a finger pointing up reading ‘Alone’ and they could all get shirts reading ‘My dad is single’.

‘Widower’ was also floated.

I hate that word.

We didn’t talk about Christine much, a few comments here and there. I had some moments where I had to work hard to compose myself. E had a moment today.

We were about to get on Pandora and he panicked. He sat it out while we enjoyed the five minute ride. When I stepped off he was defeated. I thought it was because he hadn’t joined us.

E: I miss mom

Of course he did. She hated coasters. She always sat out the more intense rides because of motion sickness. The two of them would spend time together. Now he sat alone.

I let him sit alone.

Don’t get me wrong, I spent the weekend missing out on the fun stuff because I couldn’t leave him by himself, but this one ride, just five minutes, I let him sit alone. I was even a little mad at him because I didn’t get to do Space Mountain or Big Thunder Railroad (is that even what it’s called?). I deserved this. And then here was my little boy, all alone when he never was before.

I just did something I haven’t done much for the last several months. I looked at their feelings. When I look back at these posts the word used most is ‘I’. Here’s how I feel. Here’s what I am doing.

I haven’t spent much time thinking about them. Or anyone else really. It’s been My Loss.

That’s where the title of this post comes from. T has been wanting to start a family blog/youtube channel capturing us after Christine.

I’ve been giving her lip service, telling her we’ll do it. But I’ve allowed myself to be distracted, not giving them the attention they deserve while I sought solace elsewhere.

One of the questions I hate the very most is ‘how are your kids doing?’. I have no idea. Not the slightest clue. I’m too involved with myself.

I’m selfish.

I’ll explore this more soon. I just had to get it out there for now. Put a pin in it.

T wants to capture OUR journey. Wants to capture OUR recovery. She named us Fierce Family. We’re a team. We’re together. She is further ahead of me, she’s thinking of Us.

So we did it. We took out first vacation under the sky, under The Absence. We made it. We’re together. We will laugh and cry and love and hate together.

We’re a #FierceFamily