‘I hadn’t heard from him all day. ‘ARE YOU ALIVE?’ I started to panic. I never thought it would happen to me.’: Widow finds hope after losing husband, ‘Live as if today is YOUR last day’

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“I’ll never forget the day that changed my life forever.  I’d always heard about it happening to other people, but I never thought it would happen to me, until the day it actually happened to me. It was the day when I lost the love of my life.

Our love story was a modern-day version of The Notebook.  We first laid eyes on each other in the winter of 1984.  It was the big 8th-grade basketball game between cross-town rivals. I was head cheerleader at Burlingame Intermediate and he was one of the star basketball players at Taylor Middle School. As I walked into Taylor’s gym, we were met with loud heckles and jeers from fans of the home team. But all I could focus on was this gorgeous brunette boy on the basketball court and when our eyes locked, it was love at first sight. After the game, he made a B-line right towards me and said, ‘Hi, I’m Mose. Can I get your phone number and maybe call you sometime?’

Courtesy of Hillary Bamont

We would talk for hours on the phone and when summer vacation finally arrived, he asked, ‘Will you meet me at the Millbrae Theater to watch Purple Rain?’ I agreed and I remember having butterflies during the entire movie. When Prince started performing the song, Purple Rain, Mose leaned over and gave me a soft, long kiss that cast a spell on me that would last a lifetime.

We dated on and off in high school and loved hard and fought even harder (Just like Noah and Allie in The Notebook).  My parents were a bit leery of Mose because he didn’t have a lot of supervision growing up and he had a lot of freedom. They also saw me spend many nights in my room crying over him because I was so madly in love with him and they didn’t know how to handle the emotions that came with that kind of love. When we graduated from high school, I was planning to attend college and he was planning to go straight to work for his father’s company. I knew deep down inside we were going down separate paths, so I started to become distant during the summer after graduation. I finally made a decision to break up with him and he was devastated.

Courtesy of Hillary Bamont

The summer after my sophomore year of college, I ran into him at a party. My heart dropped down into my stomach and it was at that moment I realized just how much I’d missed him in my life. I knew if I didn’t say anything, I probably wouldn’t have the chance to again (since we grew up in the 80s and 90s and didn’t have texting and social media back then). So I spilled my heart out to him and told him, ‘I miss you and want to see you again.’  He seemed distant and not very excited about the idea and he finally said to me, ‘I need to tell you I’m seeing somebody, and I really want to try and make it work with her. I’m sorry.’  Now I was the one who was devastated. There was no turning back. I had lost the love of my life and needed to move on.

As the years passed, the heartache had slowly eased, but I would purposely not attend any social functions that I knew he would be at because I knew the hurt would just come back.  In 2008, I joined this little social media platform called Facebook and I started posting pictures of us in high school. Word got to Mose he needed to make an account so he could see all of the great pictures I was posting and on October 8, 2008, I stared at my screen for what seemed to be an eternity. I was staring at his name for the first time in almost 17 years. He had sent me an email.

Courtesy of Hillary Bamont

I opened it and he was telling me how much he enjoyed seeing old pictures of us on Facebook. As the weeks passed, the emails started getting more and more serious about how we still had feelings for one another. All the feelings he and I had bottled up in those 17 years finally started coming out and the one sentence I’ll never forget reading from him was, ‘I purposely avoided social functions because I knew you would be there and I knew my heart would break all over again.’  He felt the same way I did.  It was time to reunite and see if those sparks would reignite. On December 19, 2008, we agreed to meet for lunch in downtown San Francisco and the minute we laid eyes on one another, after 17 years, it was like being in that middle school gym again back in 1984. It wasn’t just sparks. It was a full-blown fireworks extravaganza and we were right in the middle of it all.

In September 2009, we moved in together and in July of 2013, he proposed to me under a beautiful Maui sunset on Kaanapali beach. We were married in August of 2014. We truly made up for lost time apart.  We vacationed in Mexico, Hawaii, Arizona, Florida, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Chicago and we couldn’t get enough of one another.  The love of my life was back and this time he was here to stay. Or so I thought.

Courtesy of Hillary Bamont

On the eve of April 28, 2016, I remember we had a small argument.  We were discussing plans to meet the next day after work because we were planning to go to the Luke Bryant concert with friends. I mentioned I might be a little late because I had an appointment I needed to be. He said to me, ‘You’ve known about this concert for a month. Couldn’t you have planned your appointment on another day?’  We bickered for a bit and he went upstairs and went to bed.  I thought about our discussion and he was right. I should have planned my day better and I had decided the next day I would move my appointment so I could be on time to meet him and our friends for the concert.

The next morning, he was leaving for work and I remember grabbing his arm to apologize and to let him know I was going to change the appointment.  He gave me a look of pure happiness and gave me a huge hug and said, ‘Thank you.  I love you so much.’ Little did I know it would be the last time I ever saw him.

Courtesy of Hillary Bamont

I was heading out the door to meet him for the concert and I remember thinking it was odd I hadn’t heard from him all day. I had sent him a few text messages and he didn’t answer. I was starting to get irritated so the last text I sent to him said, ‘ARE YOU ALIVE?’

As the hours passed without hearing from him, I started to panic. I began to call his coworkers to see where he was and I remember one of them picking up the phone and he was crying. I asked him, ‘Mark, what’s wrong?’ And he said to me, ‘Hillary, I’m so sorry. Mose had an accident. He’s gone. Mose is gone.’

Courtesy of Hillary Bamont

Confusion set in. I dropped to my knees and I remember a huge wave of denial came crashing over my emotions. ‘What do you mean he’s gone? Where is he? Have you found him yet? What are you talking about?’ Mark then said to me, ‘I’m going to have someone call you.’ And then there was silence. I felt dizzy and out of sorts. I wasn’t understanding anything he was saying to me, so I raced to my car and started to drive toward his work. My phone rang and it was the owner of the company my husband worked for. ‘Hillary, I’m so sorry. Mose is no longer with us. He passed and we found him at work unconscious and there was nothing anybody could do.’

I was still in total denial and needed to be where he was. As I pulled into the driveway of his work, I saw a coroner’s van and reality started to set in. I was met by a police officer who directed me into the lobby of the building he worked at and was told to wait there until the medical examiner came down to talk to me. A few hours passed and more and more friends and family were showing up because everybody was getting word about the news. I remember feeling numb, cold, and hollow. I was still in total denial and wasn’t sure what was happening around me. Finally, the medical examiner came down and escorted me to a private meeting room where he handed me his jacket and a small envelope that had his wedding ring and wallet inside.

Courtesy of Hillary Bamont

It was like reality was etching itself into my bones and I felt every ounce of pain with every hit of the reality hammer. The medical examiner introduced himself and told me, ‘I’m so sorry for your loss.  We aren’t certain until the autopsy reports come back, but we think he may have died of natural causes.’ Mose was an electrical foreman and they thought he may have been electrocuted but they couldn’t find any exit wounds to indicate any proof.  A few weeks had passed, and the cause of death was indicated as a ruptured berry aneurysm. Berry aneurysms tend to appear at the base of the brain where the major blood vessels meet and his ruptured was due to severely high blood pressure. As my mind started wandering, I remember he had two popped blood vessels in his eyes about a week before his passing. I pleaded with him to go to the doctor (which he never did) because he thought it was due to him rubbing his eyes because of seasonal allergies. There were no other symptoms he complained about. One minute he was kissing me goodbye and the next minute, he was gone forever.

I remember burying my entire face into his jacket and sobbing. It was real. The nightmare that couples could never fathom was not only happening right before my eyes, but it was happening to ME. I thought these were only stories I heard about happening to other people but it was actually happening in my own life. The love of my life I was supposed to grow old with was suddenly no longer here. I was faced with this horrible feeling of despair I would later realize was grief punching me in the face. I was left to deal with his head-on.

Courtesy of Hillary Bamont

I had just joined a club I didn’t want to join. As the days passed, I was forced to face the harsh reality that he’s not going to walk through the door from a long trip.  He won’t be there to kiss me goodbye in the morning before work.  He won’t be there when I crawl into bed at night and wake up in the morning.  The love story had ended. But little did I know it was just beginning.

I was no stranger to grief. I lost my father when I was 23 years old. I remember feeling lost without him, but I also remember how time healed my heartache. I pulled deep from within and started to reflect on what got me through such a devastating time in my life and told myself I needed to find that strength again in order to move forward. So I asked myself, ‘What kind of life would Mose want you to live in his memory?’ It’s the question I still ask myself 4 years later when I struggle sometimes in finding the right answers. I wanted his legacy to live on and I wanted to make him proud.

Courtesy of Hillary Bamont

To best understand what an extraordinary person he was and how I dealt with losing him I’d like to share a part of the eulogy I wrote for him and shared at his memorial service:

‘Through the tears, I remembered what Mose always said to me when I was upset about something. He said, ‘I am only happy when you’re smiling.’ So here I am, trying like hell to put a smile on my face. What I want to share with you today is WHY we lived life to the fullest and how we could all learn a few things from Mose about being happier and content in our lives, and live like it’s the last day of YOUR life.

It’s not easy for someone to take a step back, reflect, identify, and admit their own weaknesses. Before Mose came back into my life I had experienced heartbreak and tragedy of my own with the death of my father in 1994. He was taken from us at the young age of 53. I became angry and bitter at the world. I couldn’t understand why someone so close to me was taken away so young. I questioned my relationship and trust with God. After all, in my eyes, if there was a kind God, he wouldn’t allow such devastation and unfairness to the ones close to the dying. My father’s death created a sense of pessimism within me, often looking at the glass as half-empty vs. half full.

Courtesy of Hillary Bamont

What I didn’t realize was how much this negativity was impacting my own life. My relationships with other people had suffered and I felt like my way was the right way because I was entitled to feel bad. Mose was the one person who came along and changed all of that for me. He was the only person in my life who ever stood up to me and challenged me to look deep inside of myself and try to understand what I could do to create a different perspective on my outlook on life and relationships. He was the only person in my entire life that I ever listened to.

As I grew closer to him in my adult life, I learned about all of the adversity he had faced growing up and it made my problems seem minute compared to what he had been through. He taught me the meaning of gratitude, appreciation, self-respect, and respect for others. He also taught me how to live with patience, tolerance, and forgiveness. He encouraged me to be myself at all times and to walk into a room with a smile on my face and treat people the way I would want to be treated. He taught me the true meaning of empathy and to understand that everybody is fighting their own personal battles which affect their behavior at times. He taught me to judge less and accept people for who they are, and not as who I assumed them to be.

Courtesy of Hillary Bamont

Whenever I would get upset about something that was said about me or someone who was judgmental towards me he would tell me, ‘I’ve lived my entire life believing there are two sides to every story and never judged. But I know 90% of the people out there don’t do the same and I’m fine with that. But I will not let the 90% change me.’ No wonder he beat the odds growing up. His outlook on life was extraordinary and it showed in everything that he did.

I had to take a step back and remember all of the things Mose has taught me in the 7 years he had been back in my life. I started to think positively and allowed myself to trust that God is not a punishing God and that he takes the best people on this earth and He uses them as messengers to teach us all how to live the most fulfilling life we possibly can until the day WE pass away.

If you’ve ever read the book, The Secret, and you knew Mose well, you would have thought he wrote that book. The premise of the book is about the law of attraction and how one’s positive thoughts attract a positive life.

Courtesy of Hillary Bamont

I saw him make these promises to himself each and every day through his hard work, his unconditional love for his friends and family, how his smile and his hugs would light up a room, and for his insane love for life in general. I wanted to be more and more like him. Throughout the past few years, I slowly started to mirror this behavior and found that my life started to become more positive in ways I couldn’t even imagine. I am still a work in progress, but I am so grateful to him for encouraging me to be a better person and I promise him that I’ll promise myself to practice these for the rest of MY life.

I am so grateful for the time I had with this man. No matter how big of an argument we would get into the night before, and no matter how mad we would be at each other, he would always kiss me goodbye when he left in the morning and always told me, ‘You never know if today will be the last time we see each other.’ Boy, was he right.

I ask you to live YOUR life as if today is YOUR last day. Tell the people you love how special they are to you. Randomly text your loved ones during the day and tell them how amazing they are and list some of the things you love about them. Try to forgive that person who hurt you. Try to judge a little less and understand both sides of the story. Dance in the rain. Jump in the pool with all of your clothes on. Eat carbs. Book those tickets to Vegas on a whim to see your favorite band perform. Hug harder, kiss longer, and love deeper. I am proud to say that I have done all of those things, and I am even prouder and more at peace in my heart knowing that I enjoyed them with the love of my life.'”

Courtesy of Hillary Bamont

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Hillary Bamont from Dublin, California. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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