‘Lauren, are you with anyone right now?’ I looked at our GPS and he was still in the same spot. My legs went numb and I dropped.’: Widow finds strength in grief journey

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“On November 23rd, 2019 at 11:52 a.m., my life as I knew it vaporized into thin air; a warm, sunny, beautiful morning turned into my deepest, darkest nightmare. In a matter of seconds, one horrendous, reckless, intentional decision to drive on the wrong side of the road stole my husband’s last breath from his body like a thief. All of the hopes and dreams we created together vanished, leaving me clinging to what was and ravaged by what would no longer be. In an instant, my husband, best friend, and father to our son was gone, never to be touched, hugged, spoken to or loved on again.

Courtesy of Lauren Lentz

This fateful morning started off like any other Saturday in 2019. Per usual, 5:30 a.m. came too quickly with L (our little rooster son) standing in his crib, ready to be up for the day. Kevin took one for the team, rolled out of bed, and brought him to play in the kitchen while he started his morning routine. I was always so thankful for a few more moments to sleep, but also knew that Kevin truly used it as a wonderful excuse to spend some extra time with his baby boy.

An hour later I walked into the kitchen, welcomed by the sweet smell of my morning latte. Most recently, Kevin and I had been sharing our appreciation for one another, as a way to express our gratitude for each other. Each night we would say one thing we appreciated about the other person before heading to bed. That morning, I felt compelled to tell him I had an ‘extra’ appreciation for him today. He jokingly rolled his eyes towards me and asked, ‘What do you want done around the house?!’ I laughed but told him I was serious and I wanted to express how much I appreciated him for letting me sleep in and always having a coffee ready for me in the morning. He peeked around the refrigerator and flashed his big smile; I knew my sweet, humble husband really valued the compliment.

Courtesy of Lauren Lentz

Kevin got ready for his mountain bike ride, and I gathered up the things I needed to work on my thesis defense. He came over to give both of us a kiss. L wasn’t having it and kept pushing his dada away. Kevin got down on his knees, which entertained L, and L let him kiss him through the baby gate. Once he got that wet little baby kiss, he headed downstairs to get his bike ready. My mom came over to watch L, so I could head out to the coffee shop. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Kevin was still downstairs while I was on my way out. I went over and gave him one last kiss, told him I loved him and to be safe.

I left the house and I remember thinking what a beautiful morning it was; the warmth of the sun kissing my skin, a slight breeze in the air that wafted the pleasant smell of flowers in full bloom from the recent rain… I thought, ‘This will be the perfect day to take L to the Safari Park when Kevin gets home.’ I was running late at the coffee shop when I texted Kev to see if he would be back at the house before me. He didn’t respond, but I thought nothing of it (as I figured he was riding). I decided to pack my things up and head back home.

Courtesy of Lauren Lentz

When I arrived at the house, Kevin hadn’t made it back so I loaded L into the car and headed out to run some errands. Kevin and I had family GPS, so I looked to see where he was still in Escondido. A little agitated, but used to him for being late from rides, I just figured the guys stopped to have a beer or a snack.

When I got to our house it was starting to get late. Kevin was now two hours out from when he said he would be home and I felt a pang of worry. I looked at our GPS and he was still in the same spot. My last text to him was, ‘I’m starting to panic. If you don’t text me back, I’m going to drive out to where you are.’ Still no response.

Courtesy of Lauren Lentz

I texted a friend who happened to have the number of a teammate Kevin was riding with that day. I called him, and when I asked where he and Kevin were there was a moment of silence. The next second he said, ‘Lauren, are you with anyone right now?’ My legs went numb and I dropped to the floor, staring L right in the eyes. I kept yelling and asking if Kevin was okay. His friend, Marc, told me he would be right over. I instantly hung up and called my mom and sister screaming, ‘I know he’s dead, I know he’s dead. Come over right now. I can’t breathe.’

Courtesy of Lauren Lentz

In what felt like hours (which were probably just minutes) everyone showed up. We walked up the stairs to our home and I remember feeling like all of the blood had left my body. Sitting on the couch, I could barely listen to what Marc was saying. I felt like he was rambling on forever… ‘This guy came out from nowhere. Kevin was just riding along when a car drove around a blind curve on the wrong side of the road…’ I stopped him and asked, ‘Is Kevin dead?’ Silence. ‘Yes, Kev is dead.’ I remember my dad screaming, ‘No, no, no,’ and then I was thinking about how I couldn’t feel my toes. This all just had to be a bad nightmare. This couldn’t be real. Kevin was invincible.

Courtesy of Lauren Lentz

On November 23rd, 2019, we woke up as a family of 3 and went to bed as a family of 2.

It’s not just the hopes and dreams that were lost that day; it’s the small daily things that made our life so rich that were stolen from us as well. The text messages from Kevin checking in on my day; hearing his truck pull up in the driveway. The back rubs, dinner conversations and deep belly laughs I’ll never get to hear again. The morning kisses, the lattes and ‘I love yous’ I won’t get to share with him. Working in tandem to raise our sweet boy. Sharing in life’s triumphs and letdowns. Sitting on the porch to soak in the sunset or the grocery store runs just for chocolate. Watching Kevin find pure bliss in giving L a bath, making him laugh and just getting to be a father. Small moments that make life so meaningful, just ripped away.

Courtesy of Lauren Lentz

It’s been ten months since Kevin was killed. We’ve celebrated his life and honored his death (spreading his ashes in all the places his heart would be ‘home’). We’ve cried endless tears and enjoyed many laughs, remembering what a truly special person he was.

Everything since his passing has seemed to go in and out of focus. It’s strange the way time is distorted after the death of someone you love with your whole being. Sometimes it feels like Kevin was here just yesterday, while at other times it feels like he’s been gone for years. Some moments I believe I have come to accept this dark truth, only to wake up the next day and find I still expect to hear his footsteps in our home.

If you had spoken to me in the weeks following Kevin’s departure, I would have told you I wasn’t sure I’d survive; I truly thought my heart was going to break into two. But somehow life keeps moving, even when time stands still for you. Somehow you keep breathing and putting one foot in front of the other.

Courtesy of Lauren Lentz

The love that has surrounded me and my son is indescribable; each person in our lives trying to do what they can to take just a small slice of the pain. These friends, family members and strangers have carried us during our heaviest times; I can’t help but believe Kevin is somehow playing a role in still protecting and caring for us.

What I know is this the death of someone you love deeply reshapes you. It has made me softer and stronger; feel more and want less. It has inspired me to not take one day for granted and to live life to its fullest extent. Kevin’s death has forced me to look at my own belief system and to evaluate my relationship surrounding my eventual fate. It has connected me to a community of widow sisters I never wanted, but now couldn’t live without. Last, it has given me a new perspective and understanding of grief and has inspired me to support others on their own journey through loss. Loving Kevin changed me; how would losing him not do the same?

Thank you, for allowing me the space to share our story.”

Courtesy of Lauren Lentz
Courtesy of Lauren Lentz

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lauren Lentz. You can follow her on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribeto our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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‘I’m trying to hold on for you and the boys. I’m so tired,’ he said. We had so much hope.’: Widow asks friends and family to write letters to twin sons from late husband, ‘They will know how great their father was’

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