Laura’s face was covered in pain, but she never let herself cry. I’ve known her for more than a decade, but I’d never known her to be happy until the past year. After a previous marriage in which she was misunderstood and lonely, she had finally found real love. Now she was telling me that Daniel was dead.
It’s a raw slice of life that I don’t see very often, so I found it both moving and painful to talk with Laura Sunday afternoon. Her husband of barely more than a year had been dead for a couple of weeks from an auto accident, but I was just finding out about it. Things like this always affect me, but not nearly as much as it affected Laura.
“All my life, I’d been looking for love and I was lucky to find it,” she said. “I was searching all my life, but I don’t regret the wasted years now, because I don’t feel like I lived for nothing. Before Daniel, I felt like, ‘Why am I here?’ Now, it’s different. I fulfilled my dreams and accomplished the love I wanted. There’s nothing I really want to live for now.”
I asked her what she finds herself thinking about the most right now as she’s dealing with the grief.
“We were best friends, so I’m thinking about everything,” Laura said. “I never stop thinking about him for a single second. There might be a few times at work when I get busy enough that I forget for a minute, but every other second, it’s on my mind. I go to sleep with tear and wake up with tears. I think about how close we were to each other. And I’m constantly thinking that I can’t lie next to him and put my head on his chest anymore.”
The experience of finding love with Daniel has changed Laura. Even in the wake of his death, she seems happier to me than she used to be. I asked her whether her divorce had been this bad.
“When I was going through my divorce, I felt like a failure and I thought about what people were thinking about me, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as this,” she said. “I felt so lonely and miserable, like my life had no meaning — and I had the feeling that I had no reason for being here. When I was married to Ben [her first husband], he was a great provider and he meant well, but I was miserable, because we didn’t have that deep heart connection everyone wants. I felt like I had no purpose and nobody needed me. But now it’s different. I feel like I accomplished what I wanted. I found the love I’d been looking for, and that makes all the difference.”
“People live without thinking about how fragile life is and they don’t appreciate things they have,” she said. “I’m a woman. To me, the most important thing has been to have real love. For some people, maybe it’s not that important. To me, it was very important to find. People sometimes find real love and don’t appreciate it. They think their house or work or other people’s opinions are so important. But compared to love, those things don’t matter. I’ve just realized how fragile our lives are. You can be here one moment and then be gone any second. Without love, there will be regrets. Now I don’t have those regrets.”
She said she thinks about the child they were trying to have and wonders what that part of life might have been like if Daniel had lived.
“Nobody knew this, but we had started the process for in vitro fertilization,” she said. “We had been trying ever since we married, but it wasn’t happening, so we were going to do it another way. We really wanted a baby together. I had already had my first appointment just before the accident. I was supposed to be pregnant in no more than three to six months.”
Laura also said losing Daniel has affected how she felt about her own death. She’s still in her 30s, but she repeatedly expressed an eagerness for the end of life.
“Before this happened, I was afraid of death,” she said. “Now, I’m not afraid anymore. I’m just not afraid. The only thing I’m worried about at this moment are my family responsibilities and my business, because people are counting on me. So I do still have to help them. Other than that, I’m not afraid to die. I’m ready.”
She expressed the confident belief that she would see Daniel again after death. She has strong Christian faith and knows her husband will be waiting for her when she dies.
“Love is something you can’t explain and you can’t understand fully,” Laura said. “I can’t explain this kind of love, what I have for Daniel. I just know he filled my needs and God put him into my life. From my point of view, this is the purpose of life — to find this kind of real love. Lots of people live their whole lives and never find it, so I was lucky. In my opinion, if you don’t find that, it’s almost like a wasted life. So my life wasn’t wasted. And that’s why it doesn’t matter anymore how much longer I live. I found what I was looking for.”
Note: The names and a couple of minor details have been changed in this story to conceal the identities of the people involved.