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.


Three Dots

As you may have read, Sarah got a “tattoo” on Saturday.  It’s a simple henna tattoo, with a complex and meaningful backstory.  A sun, symbolizing her dad, a moon, symbolizing her mother, and seven stars, symbolizing Drew.  These three celestial objects imprinted on her forearm remind her of a connection to those she’s lost.

While not permanent, it will last at least a week or two...kind of like a prototype for the real thing.  She will see it every day, and be reminded of those three losses. She’ll also be reminded of the people they symbolize, and the life she experienced with them.

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Heads or Tails

It is easy enough for most of us to identify with our own, “widowed” side of the story.  We’re the ones left behind when our partner dies. We are all suddenly single parents, sole breadwinners, alone, scared, and confused.  It doesn’t matter if we’ve had years to accept the impending death, or minutes.

But, what if we were on the other side of that coin?  What if we knew we were the ones leaving others behind?  If we knew that our children, partner, friends and family were going to have to be without us?  What if we had to trust...REALLY trust that when we were gone, it would be horrible for our loved ones, but everything would be alright?  

Even more risky, what if the riskiest thing we had to do was the one thing that kept us around longer?

This is what I’m thinking about this morning, after talking with an old friend yesterday.

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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. :)

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  • 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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