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.

Dormant Memories

If you’ve read Sarah's Post this past Sunday, then you are aware that she and I (and Shelby) were in Corpus Christi, Texas, over an extended weekend.  One of her longest and closest friends was marrying, and Sarah herself was a bridesmaid.  In that regards, I wasn’t a widower this past weekend.  I was the “second partner” of a widow.

I’ve chosen to expand upon this.  Sarah and I are in the unique position of both being writers here, both being widowed, and both dating (and cohabitating) with each other.  While much of my writing deals with the emotions, stress, and perspectives of losing Megan, this past weekend was much more important from the other side of dating a widow.

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Loss of a Different Kind

In my 37 years, I’ve seen my share of loss.  I’ve lost all of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, fellow Marines, a brother-in-law, cats, dogs and other pets, co-workers, and obviously, my wife.  There has been illness, accidents, age, war, heart-attacks, and a sprinkle of stupidity involved.  It happens.  Death happens.  I know of no one my age that hasn’t experienced some sort of loss to death at some point in their lives.  The first loss can symbolize a loss of innocence.  A loss of the childlike optimism that nothing bad ever befalls us.  It’s reality surfacing for the first time in our lives.

For some, that could happen at a very early age.  Others may be adults before it happens.  Regardless, death is something that we humans are aware of.  We are conscious of our mortality very early on, and the first loss of someone or something close to us brings with it clarity.

However, there is a secondary loss currently beginning to clarify in my life.  Something I was aware that I would lose one day, but that I will never be prepared for.  You would think, after so many years with Megan’s Cystic Fibrosis, that I would be better suited to be mentally cope with something long-term and inevitable…

...Shelby growing up.

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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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