Mike Welker

Three months after my discharge from the Marine Corps, at 22 years old, I met my wife Megan, on December 10th, 2002. The very next day, I was drawn like a moth to a flame into dealing with a long term, terminal illness. Megan had Cystic Fibrosis, and after 8 years or declining health, she received a double lung transplant, and a new lease o life. Our daughter Shelby was born in 2007.   In early 2014, those recycled lungs, which had brought our little family three years of uncomplicated health and happiness, finally began to give out.  She died from chronic organ transplant rejection on November 19th, 2014 while I held her hand and let her go.   I'm a single father and widower at 34 years old, and no one has published a manual for it.  I don't fit the mold, because there is no mold.  I "deal with it" through morbid humor, inappropriateness, anger, and the general vulgarity of the 22 year old me, as if I never grew up, but temper it with focus on raising a tenacious, smart, and strong woman in Shelby.  I try to live as if Megan is still here with us, giving me that sarcastic stare because yet again, I don't know what the hell I'm doing.


1273

1,273 days.  

 

That’s how long I have been a widower, as of this very moment.  It’s an arbitrary number...over 1,000, not quite 1500. Not an even number, nor a prime number.  It doesn’t signify a specific milestone or even an approaching one. It’s just Tuesday, 1,273 days since Megan’s death.  

I’ve now been through 3 of her birthdays, 3 anniversaries, 4 Mothers’ days, and 4 Christmases.  Shelby is 4 grades ahead in her schooling, Megan’s brother is married, with two children, and I’m closer to 40 than 30.  I’ve met and fallen in love with a wonderful woman that is now just as much part of our family as Megan was, and as much a mother to Shelby.  There are at least 1,273 things that have happened since her death. I’ve mowed the lawn probably 80 times. I’ve went to work for 800 or so days.  The trash has been taken out on sunday 180 times, and we’ve bought at least 45 bags of dog food. I’ve hiked over 100 miles. Many of these things are significant as it relates to widowerhood, most of them not.

On second thought...they’re all significant.

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How-to: Mother's Day

As Mother’s Day approaches, I always tend to think of Megan a bit more.  Many everyday things become somehow intertwined with a memory or anecdote about her, simply because she was Shelby’s mother.  Even mowing the lawn brings thoughts about the fact that she had to close all of the windows in the house due to the smell of fresh cut grass making her cough.

Megan is never far from Shelby or I’s memory.  If I had a nickel for every time Shelby began a sentence with “Remember when mom...” I’d be a millionaire.  She hasn’t seemed to look any deeper into Megan’s death than humorous stories or zombie jokes though. I mean, she’s only 11.  Her mom has been gone for almost 4 years now, and her biggest concerns are getting to ride her bike and the newest novel in the book series she’s reading being released to stores.

It makes me wonder when the other shoe is going to drop.

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  • commented on You Have Been my Best Surprise 2018-05-13 08:14:29 -0700
    Happy mother’s day, Sarah. Shelby and I love you!

  • commented on No Contact 2017-12-03 12:31:05 -0800
    For the record, I’m home, unscathed, and if I can ever get to agree to it, Sarah is coming on these winter trips with me. :)

  • donated 2015-12-01 10:03:57 -0800

  • commented on Food, My Old Friend 2015-08-14 10:34:45 -0700
    Great writing Kelley! I’m not going into various diet plans, because they all work differently for different people (PM me on facebook if you want to know mine, it would jive with your goals and worked EXTREMELY well for me).

    What I will say is this…cravings are natural. Changing a diet (especially one based on pasta and carbs in general), while not as extreme as losing Don is still a life changing event. You can try to substitute things, but it’s never the same. You hit the nail on the head; you’re grieving the loss of the foods you love.

    Keep at it! Results take time, but once you start to see some progress, it will get that much easier.

  • commented on We Have a Widow's Voice Baby! 2015-08-12 07:16:22 -0700
    Congrats Kerryl!

  • commented on Hey Bud 2015-07-08 05:34:37 -0700
    Thank you all so much! I guess that I am a little overwhelmed by the effect I seem to have had. To me, Drew was, is, and will always be a part of Sarah, and she wouldn’t be who she is without him, just as I wouldn’t have been the same person without Megan. This was evident to me, so writing about it seemed simple.

  • commented on Optimism 2015-06-24 05:00:53 -0700
    Thank you for your words Jane, and sorry for your loss. You’ve summed it up very succinctly. While your husband was sick, you were right to remain optimistic until the very end. In fact, until roughly 24 hours before we were forced to remove Megan’s life support, I still held out hope that she would pull through. While it can make it much more “sudden” feeling, in the long run, I can not imagine living in fear for 12 years. We lived life as full as we could, and when the time came, she was able to die as a happy, proud mother, knowing she left one hell of a legacy.

    For the record, your “live and have fun” statement is, in my opinion, the best way to honor his memory.

    Mike

Of the many titles I've held (Marine, Husband, Engineer, Brother, Son, Uncle), the one I am most proud of is "Father"
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