‘I was the ‘closet Diet Mountain Dew drinker.’ I was MAD he left me. To be honest, I was a HOT MESS. I fought back.’

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“I have written this a thousand times in my heart and mind. It’s so deeply personal to me, but I know so many people who can relate to what I intend to share. This morning I got up early knowing today is the day. I want to share about something that is ongoing in my life. It’s every day and it’s WHO I am now. I became widowed November 15th 2014. I lost my husband to a rare aggressive cancer (non-hodgkin’s lymphoma t-cell peripheral cancer). I still can’t believe Tyler is gone. It still seems like a bad dream.

His death was the worst thing I ever went through. I have been through a lot. I am a stroke survivor myself. I thought I had been through the worst. We never know what we will have to face. This long 18 month battle with cancer brought me to my knees daily. I helplessly watched my husband endure such a nasty horrible struggle to live. He was so STRONG and had FAITH like no other. I learned so much. I battled with him. I do remember this time with sadness but honestly I think of the GOOD TIMES mostly. We laughed with tears as he lost his hair and he compared himself to our son in law. Often, we just watched FAMILY FEUD together and we each tried to be the winner. I rubbed his numb feet.

Courtesy Teresa Collins

By the end of his life, I was in the hospital with him. I slept by him on the hospital sofa in his room. I could not sleep as I heard his labored breathing and moans from his pain. I would take him to the restroom. To this day, I KNOW I was helped to carry him. I was given the sacred blessing of seeing him talk to angels and knew the veil was thin. He was going to God. He fought it to the very end. I want you to know something. I will NEVER get over losing Tyler.

Courtesy Teresa Collins

I like to remember Tyler smiling, holding the grand babies and how much he loved his family. He fought like a WARRIOR.

I remember his STRENGTH.

Tyler was a successful doctor. He loved his patients and he loved serving people. Up until his cancer diagnosis he was never sick a day in his life. I remember how much he HATED taking photos. I would talk him into doing it anyway. NOTE: Take more photos!

Courtesy Teresa Collins

The truth is this- I had no idea what I would feel or face. I was suddenly widowed. I went home and stayed in his pi’s for days. I was completely lost. I thought I was strong. I had FAITH. I know DEATH is not the end. Here I was a complete and utter mess. I was not sleeping. I stayed in his hospital scrubs for two weeks. I didn’t want to even shower. I was goggling how to ‘know’ and ‘feel’ our dead were with us still. I was desperate. I was going through every love note he ever gave me. I had a 16×20 photo of Tyler in the front room of my home. I had it printed for the funeral. I left it up as a shrine. I had all the funeral flowers surrounding this shrine. I would just kneel and talk to his picture, sobbing uncontrollably.

Courtesy Teresa Collins

I was MAD he left me. I was not doing well. I finally had to call a grief counselor. I was so sad and angry at the same time. To be honest, I was a HOT MESS. I thought I was stronger than I was. I was scared because my will to go on was gone. This was not something I had ever experienced. My poor kids were so worried about me. I remember my daughter McKay coming home from her mission and as happy as I was to see her- I felt DEAD inside.

This is where it’s going to get REAL. I had a HARD marriage to Tyler. I loved this man. Oh my… we had a love journey. However, our marriage was filled with a lot of trials. I gently talked about them in the book I wrote. I found journals Tyler had left, notes and things that made me even sadder. Tyler was the strongest man I have ever known. He was good-looking and such a hard worker. Tyler was human and had his weaknesses just like all of us. He loved to control pretty much everything. This was HOW he felt safe. I fought back.

Courtesy Teresa Collins

Our marriage was a constant battle of me fighting back. He often told me, ‘You are too damn feisty.’ Well, I knew I had to stand up for myself. For almost 19 years I picked my battles. I agreed to not shop at night without him because he was afraid someone would hurt me. I agreed at times not to drink Diet Soda so he would stop getting so mad at me- or him pouring it down the sink. The problem is, I kept drinking the diet soda and he kept getting madder. Yes, I was the ‘closet diet mountain dew drinker.’ I can LAUGH at this now. Seriously, we fought ongoing battles over this. This is the reality. All marriages are hard. I loved him desperately through it all.

Courtesy Teresa Collins

I could tell you a hundred things I could not stand about our marriage, but I could also tell you a 100 things I loved. I choose to look at the good. This is me. I loved him anyway and he loved me anyway.

Yesterday I went to his grave again. Why would I stop visiting him? Talking to him? Sharing with him?

Why does it always rain when I visit Tyler’s grave? I love to talk and share my heart as I visit him. I know he watches over us. He was such a protector. My sister in law kind of summed it up best to me. She said, ‘Tyler was obsessed with you.’ He loved me often in a way that was ‘too much’ and was so afraid to lose me he would smother me or be controling. I had so much love and compassion for him knowing it was just him. I have no doubt he knows how hard his death has been on our children and me. Nothing has been easy about this. This is an ongoing grief. It just doesn’t go away.

Courtesy Teresa Collins

You don’t stop loving someone when they die. I am so thankful Tyler took such good care of me and his kids. I FOCUS on his goodness. I think when someone dies we tend to focus on just their good. I know that for me, there is peace in my soul as I remember the good and my kids and I can LAUGH at things we used to not think was so funny. He taught us life lessons. Tyler and I taught our children the importance of academics, working hard and how to LOVE themselves and others. We tried to foster the desire in them to serve God and others. We were united to our goals as parents. This was US. We both were ‘imperfect’ beings trying to raise children to be better than us. Tyler was a strict dad. He made us all so mad at times. He was firm and stubborn. It made him Tyler. This man was so strong in his character, love and devotion as a husband and dad. I want you to know if you know someone widowed, they never get over the loss and pain.

I never even imagined finding love again. It was not in my plan. I only had one plan in reality. It was to somehow keep going. Then, I met this cute guy, Brian, who made me smile. Brian was texting me yesterday. I told him I was on my way to the grave. He supports, understands and let’s me talk about Tyler. He knows it takes NOTHING away from my love for him. I am beyond blessed. I have told people  it’s like the love you have for a child. When you have a second child you think you cannot possibly love another child as much or feel the same way but you do. God gave us the ability to love MORE and for our heart to expand. That is why we can have several children and love them each the same. I believe Tyler somehow led me to Brian after he passed. I can honestly say Brian is the most amazing person. I adore him and he is the reason I can smile during this new journey. I love him and it takes NOTHING away from my marriage and love for Tyler. I still think about Tyler every single day. And yet, I have gotten remarried.

DEATH does not end love.

GRIEF is real and it does not simply end in a ‘specific’ time. There is no time clock. I don’t think that is how it works (at least for me!)”

Courtesy Teresa Collins

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Teresa Collins of Draper, Utah. Follow her journey on Instagram here and here.  You can learn more about her website here, and book here. Submit your story here. For our best stories, subscribe to our free email newsletter.

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