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.


The New Crew

Tomorrow, Wednesday, is officially the beginning of “Drewfest” 2018.  It’s an annual summer get-together of Drew’s friends, usually taking place somewhere in Texas, with the specific goal of having a fun weekend together as if he was still around, yet remembering he’s not.  It’s a great endeavor, and one that in and of itself should be celebrated.

This year, the party comes to Ohio.  Sarah’s best friend will be arriving from L.A. in the afternoon, with 5 others arriving from Texas on Thursday.  9 people. In an 1100 square foot home. 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, and 2 dogs. It will be a far cry from Drew’s parents’ ranch, and will be interesting for sure.

Regardless, Sarah and I are beyond excited to have everyone come to our home, so far from where Drew had ever even travelled.  We’ve spent months preparing. Home improvements, cleaning, craft projects, decorating our little deck with a “pirate” theme, and even cobbling together a “new” deck out of pallets and bits we had lying around.  At this point, there is still so much more to do before tomorrow, and we’ve been going flat out.

And I realize I haven’t even thought much about Megan lately.

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A Friend I Never Knew

As luck would have it, today is Tuesday, my day to post my rambling here on Soaring Spirits.  It is also the 6th anniversary of Drew’s crash, and the 4th trip around the sun since I began getting to know him.  Through stories told by Sarah, his parents, and his friends, I’ve made a friend...a sort of widow pen-pal, in a way.

It’s odd, really, how often Sarah says things like “Drew really picked you”, often in a sarcastic tone when I’m being a deliberate goof.  We have as many similarities as we do differences. His friends are my friends, and I enjoy hanging out with all of them. In fact, they are all coming to Ohio to visit next week...6 of them in a tiny 2 bedroom, 1 bath house with the three of us.  That will be fun for 4 days.

I truly feel as if Drew was a friend of mine.  I don’t have quite the stinging sense of loss that his friends and family had, obviously.  Just the same, there is a huge desire to have known him personally and in the flesh.

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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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