‘Our love was indescribable.’: Unmarried widow shares unique grief journey after losing partner with Cystic Fibrosis

More Stories like:

“Hi y’all! My name is Lauren Pierce and I am a widow. I was born and raised in the Dallas, Texas area and currently still live there with my dog, Khloe, who is literally my baby and my entire world. She is about nine and a half and is a blue pitbull/boxer who was born on April 4th, 2013. I constantly get compliments on how soft and shiny she is, although I can’t take credit because I give her a bath maybe twice a year and that is it. I guess she’s just got the good genes and I was lucky enough to get the only blue from her litter! I got her when she was just a puppy and I was still in high school. It feels like forever ago! I was born October 26th (Scorpio season) and will be turning 27 this coming October.

woman sitting in the grass with her dog
Courtesy of Lauren Pierce

How We Met

In the beginning of 2016, I met Tyler. I had just turned 20 and he was 29 at the time. The story of how we met is a little crazy to me, but I wouldn’t have met him if it weren’t for the backstory I am about to tell you so I can’t complain! Years prior to meeting Tyler, I was with someone else and had met a friend/acquaintance through who I was dating at the time. That same friend/acquaintance later became Tyler’s wife for a short time and I would see pictures of him in her posts, so I knew of him and what he looked like. Her and I drifted apart, years passed, they ended up separating, and I ended up moving to some apartments in McKinney with my best friend at the time. We moved in around November 2015 and shortly thereafter is when I met Tyler.

I was pulling into the apartment complex one day, heading toward the parking garage when I saw this guy walking across the parking lot from the parking garage. I said to myself, ‘Oooh, he’s cute!’ and I kept driving toward him. As I got closer, I was like, ‘Oh my god, I know exactly who that is!’ Back then the dating site Plenty of Fish was still a thing… maybe it still is, I have no idea. Anyways, I had seen him on there around that time so I thought, why not?! I’ll give it a shot and find him on POF again and message him. Why I didn’t think of any other social media other than the dating site POF to message him is beyond me, but much to my surprise, I got a message back! Before even messaging him, I did know some about him, and the big thing I had already known was that he had Cystic Fibrosis.

man with Cystic Fibrosis sitting at a table
Courtesy of Lauren Pierce

For those of you who are not familiar with Cystic Fibrosis, I will go into a little detail about it real quick. It is a genetic mutation you are born with that mainly affects the lungs and digestive system. People with CF do not have a long life expectancy and as they get older, their lungs continue to deteriorate. Most people with CF end up passing at an early age or having a double lung transplant. I’m sure you know, as with any transplant surgery, there are rejection risks. It is a possibility for the new lungs to reject, but for them the chance to breathe without CF in their lungs, even if it ends up only being temporary, is something only they can describe. It’s a feeling they have probably only dreamed of. A way I like to tell people if they ask about their lungs or breathing is the way Tyler told me when we first met. Imagine pinching your nose together to where you just breathe out of your mouth and now just breathe through a straw. That is the best way to explain to someone, a similar feeling of what it is like for someone with Cystic Fibrosis, just to breathe.

Now having known this before, you would think that would stop me from getting to know this hottie more. Most people probably would not want to jump into something that was ending and quite soon at that. But it didn’t stop me, not one bit! Looking back, it honestly felt like love at first sight. That day I pulled into the parking garage of our apartments. We ended up getting together shortly after and honestly, it feels like the rest is history! 

Couple takes a selfie while both are smiling
Courtesy of Lauren Pierce

Our Relationship

We did have a rocky relationship the entire time he had left on earth, but even when we were ‘off,’ there was no off. With us, there was always something. The love and affection we had for each other, despite our bickering and differences, never went away. It’s so hard to put into words, but all I know is when we were together, it’s like nothing else mattered anymore. No matter what, we would always greet each other and kiss. We had our own way of talking to each other. Just the way we would say things but we only talked that way with each other. His mom told me later on that I was the only one he talked that way with. Which was nice to hear and made my heart melt. We also had this weird thing, probably to most… he absolutely loved for me to get his back ‘scratchies.’ I don’t know if we ever figured out why his back got like that, but I enjoyed doing it and he loved for me to just sit there and get them, so I didn’t mind. It became our thing. 

couple wears matching bandanas and sunglasses
Courtesy of Lauren Pierce

We lived together multiple times and he had an American Staffordshire Terrier named Opie, who became Khloe’s brother and I was his mama, and Tyler became Khloe’s daddy. His big boy quickly became a mama’s boy and Khloe quickly became a daddy’s girl. We also went to countless Dallas Stars hockey games as he loved hockey and I still love it to this day. Going to games or watching them from home! He also got me onto one of his favorite shows, Impractical Jokers on TruTV, and boy let me tell ya, are they funny or what?! Watching IJ before bed and leaving it playing while we slept became another one of our things too. One of the many things I miss so much. 

dog lays on man with Cystic Fibrosis chest
Courtesy of Lauren Pierce
dog sits on the couch while wearing human's glasses
Courtesy of Lauren Pierce

Lung Transplant Surgery

Back in 2018, Tyler and I were together and his health was declining. He ended up starting the transplant process and once being placed as ‘Active’ on the transplant list, got THE call less than a month later. He got the call around 9ish on July 17th, and by noon, they already had him on the OR table. It all happened so fast. It was so surreal. I think at the moment, I was in shock that it was actually happening. But once he got out of transplant surgery, I knew I had to be strong for me and him. I had to be there for him because my crying would not help him recover from such a major surgery. 

girlfriend rests her head in her boyfriends lap
Courtesy of Lauren Pierce

It was such a long road but I would do it all over again for him. I ended up packing up the whole apartment while he was in the hospital recovering, along with help from the closest people around us, to move all of our stuff to his mom’s house in Allen to get our room set up for his discharge. When he came home, I ended up being his little night nurse and at the time, I was working an 8-5 day job. His mom, who is a complete angel, would make sure he was taken care of all day when I was at work and then at night when I got home, I would take over to give her a break. I ended up getting up every 4-6 hours each night to change his IV’s and feeding tube bag while he slept, and then I would get up for work around 7 a.m. the next day and do it all over again. 

We also had many trips back to the transplant floor after transplant. I can’t even count the nights I ended up sleeping on the hospital couch in his room. The transplant floor team became like our second family. I know I can speak for myself, I am and will always be forever grateful for them and their hard work in caring for Tyler while we were there.

couple lounging on pool chairs and tanning
Courtesy of Lauren Pierce

Lung Rejection

We ended up off again later that year and then in November of 2020, ended up seeing each other for a bit again. His lungs had started rejecting shortly before that and I knew he wasn’t doing well. We ended up spending Thanksgiving together and went over to his mom’s and then I came back to my parent’s house with my family for dinner. He was just not doing too good that day. 

As dinner ended, I got a call from him and all I remember was, ‘I need you to take me to the hospital.’ I said, ‘Okay, I’m running upstairs to change and get a bag and I’ll be on my way.’ That hospital stay ended up being longer than expected. Things were not going well and when I left, we left on a bad note. They ended up putting him on an anti-rejection medication where he had to be quarantined for many months as well. I was working my day job at the time and around people. When I left the hospital, that ended up being the last time I saw him before March 14th, 2021. 

couple take a selfie wearing hockey jerseys
Courtesy of Lauren Pierce

I had just got to a late lunch with my parents in Frisco when I got the text from his mom. That it was time and I needed to come and say my goodbye. I will forever remember walking in and the first person I saw was his aunt. She saw me and just threw her arms wide open. After we had a good hug, she took me back to his room where I saw his mom and gave her a hug before seeing him. She had everyone leave the room so I could have some time alone with him. He ended up passing peacefully at home, with me laying in bed next to him, holding his hand, and his mom at his bedside. That was and probably always will be the hardest day of my life.

Grief And Healing

Losing the love of my life, the person who knew my whole soul, and my best friend, all in one swoop. I know some people may think that’s crazy considering we were so rocky for five years, but our connection was something I just can’t explain and then we went through his double lung transplant together and all the hospital stays and the in-home nursing duties I took on. We were just so bonded and connected, our love was just something indescribable and it was just always us, no matter what. If one of us needed each other, we would be there at the drop of a hat. It didn’t matter.

couple takes a selfie while sitting in the car together
Courtesy of Lauren Pierce

Several months after he passed, I had this crazy but amazing experience. He visited me while I was sleeping one night. I am a believer in mediums but was so confused by what had just happened. I didn’t really know much then. The grief was real. And hard. Harder than I had ever imagined. Like I said earlier, I knew the outcome before even meeting him, but never could those five years have prepared me for the day and reality of actually losing him. Google became my best friend after he visited me and I stumbled on a book by a medium who had several other books I ended up reading as well. The one I started with was just her answering questions from cover to cover. It answered what happened that night and it also answered so many other questions I didn’t even know I had. They saved me and then shortly after that I went to a grief group near me and the lady leading the group suggested a book to me that was for widowed women.

The group I found was amazing and when I had told my original contact there my story, she gave me the option of splitting off with the spouses group which I took her up on. Now in this book, not even five pages in, the author starts to mention a term not many people hear of which is an unmarried widow. Basically someone who had joint things and a relationship and all the things but the piece of paper from the court. It all felt so nice to finally hear someone say it. Validating my feelings and the amount of grief I had. 

widowed woman takes selfie in the car
Courtesy of Lauren Pierce

After all of these things happened, I started thinking. I wanted to share my experiences and suggestions, in hopes it could help others in similar situations. All of the books gave me so much validation which I truly needed to feel, I guess you could say ‘warranted’ in my feelings of the loss I just endured. I thought for months about what I was going to do and finally decided on something that had popped into my head a while back but now just seemed like the perfect time. A blog! I made it official earlier this year, chose my domain, and had a custom logo designed! Widowish in Dallas will be launching on October 1st, 2022! Just a few short months away! My website currently has a ‘Coming Soon’ page displayed but will go live on October 1st!

I didn’t want to share too much in this short story, as there will be a lot more of these parts in detail, coming soon on my blog, but I hope I gave y’all a little insight to my story and maybe related to some of you reading this. That is my goal here, and I have so many exciting things to come that I cannot wait to share more in detail in my blog posts. You are more than welcome to follow along on my Instagram, if my story here is something you can relate to, or something that interests you. And as time gets closer, I will post more blog alerts on stories and feed posts. I have been working very hard to make everything perfect for October 1st and again, I hope that somehow, getting my story out there and sharing my experiences as well as many other things on my blog will help others on a similar path.”

man with cystic fibrosis and his girlfriend
Courtesy of Lauren Pierce

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lauren Pierce of Garland, Texas. You can follow her journey on Instagram, Pinterest, and her blog. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube  for our best videos.

Read more stories like this:

I’m Really Tired Of Being Somebody’s Widow, But Man Was I Lucky To Be His Wife

‘I told the operator my husband was in anaphylactic shock from a bee sting and to come immediately.’: Widowed mother shares journey to fulfilling life after tragic loss

‘My husband, the love of my life, took his life without warning.’: Widow shares healing journey on 5-year wedding anniversary

‘These days, my face couldn’t be more fake.’: Young widow shares pain of hiding grief, forcing fake smile

Do you know someone who could benefit from this story? SHARE this story on Facebook to let others know a community of support is available.

 Share  Tweet