Along the Broken Road

Twice Blessed


I was 28 years old and 7 months pregnant with my first child when my entire world collapsed. It was a time that should have been joyous and filled with nesting and baby shower celebrations and a family photo shoot featuring my enormous belly. Instead, I had to bury my high school sweetheart and husband of barely 3 years. He was my same age when a brain tumor detected just 10 days earlier took his life. There were no symptoms leading up to his diagnosis, other than some occasional complaints of dizziness and fatigue, which we assumed were due to the sleep deprivation and countless hours he had spent studying for his upcoming lieutenant’s exam. He woke up with a headache and nausea on our last morning in our house together, and we both thought a simple trip to urgent care would fix whatever was going on. Ralf went from being a healthy, active fireman to brain dead and on life support in what felt like a flip of a switch.

I was so incredibly broken. Not only had I lost the person I’d been in love with since before my 18th birthday – my dreams for the future had vanished, too. I lost the man who was supposed to be my forever. It felt like my previously beautiful life just evaporated into thin air. Suddenly I was a “widow” and a “single mom” and was mentally preparing myself to spend the rest of my life defined by those terms. I hoped to find companionship again one day, but had also accepted that it might never happen – and if it did, it would never come close to the love that I’d lost. I told myself I could do it alone and that Mason would never need a father figure. My pain was too fresh at the time to realize that if I were lucky enough to find a man willing to embrace Mason as his own, it would be a blessing. I couldn’t see past the fog of my current reality.

At some point, someone suggested that I try joining a Facebook support group for widows and widowers. I did, but the group consisted of thousands of members nationwide, and I quickly found my feed being flooded with long-winded vent sessions. It was impossible to keep up with every post, and I would just ignore and scroll through most of them. One day, however, a short and straightforward question caught my attention – a man asking what other members had done with their wedding rings. This struck a chord with me, as I had been struggling with the same issue. I was unable to even wear my wedding rings while Ralf was sick since I was so bloated, and once Mason was born and the rings fit again, putting them on was just too painful. I decided to reach out to him.

In talking to Vinnie, I learned that he was young and had recently lost his wife, Erica, unexpectedly. What’s more – she had been pregnant with their only son, Anthony, and was just days away from her due date. We quickly connected as we discovered many similarities between our stories. Aside from the obvious, we also had a lot in common. We both enjoyed music, singing, and stand-up comedy. When Vinnie asked me how I would feel about him traveling from Buffalo to Miami to meet me, I was naturally scared at first, but a little voice inside my heart told me it was the right thing to do. Our visits became frequent, and what began as a friendship and mutual understanding developed into something more. We both realized we didn’t want to waste another precious moment. We knew all too well that life cares nothing for “correct” timing. Vinnie took an immense leap of faith and moved cross country to be with me and Mason.

I truly believe from the very bottom of my heart that Vinnie and I were led to each other. I have this beautiful vision in my mind of Ralf and Erica crossing paths in Heaven and planning our meeting, wanting us to find love and happiness in each other, not in their absence, but with both of their spirits guiding our footsteps along the way. I imagine Erica witnessing the bond that continues to grow between Mason and Vinnie, and she smiles with pride. When I see Vinnie holding Mason, I also see Ralf holding Anthony and offering him the fatherly love he can only give Mason from afar until the day they get to officially meet in Heaven – the same love that Vinnie so anxiously anticipated giving to Anthony.

Our individual stories are tragic, but the new story we are writing together is beautiful and full of hope and promise. I know that neither one of us could have ever imagined that we’d endure such tremendous loss. I also know, though, that we couldn’t have designed a more perfect fit than the one we’ve found in each other. We share a perspective on life and love that comes only after losing the person you love most. We are slower to anger, quicker to appreciate, and endlessly grateful for a new beginning. I will always love Ralf, just as Vinnie will always love Erica. Our new love will never cancel out the loves that preceded it. Love has not divided, it has and will continue to multiply – and we are blessed to be alive and willing to embrace it.

25 comments

  1. Alejandra Membreno

    God has His perfect plan for you both! Continue to walk with him and enjoy the blessings bestowed upon your lives! So relieved to see you smiling, Mason is perfect! I’m sure daddy Ralf and Erica are watching you all from above! 🙏🏻

    Like

  2. Ana

    God is amazingly and endlessly merciful. I am so happy to have once again found your blog and to learn that you have found such a special and beautiful person to love you amd your son, and whom you love knowing he fully understands your love for Ralph. And, even more importantly, someone who loves and embraces your son to give him the love he wanted to give hos own son. God bless your beautiful new family. As to being a writer, you don’t have to become one. You already are. Write on.

    Like

    • That means so much to me because I realize that I doubt myself and set up all these obstacles that don’t exist because I’m scared of failing…there will be a blog post soon about that, actually. So your words mean a lot- thank you!!

      Like

  3. Olga

    There are no coincidences, God has a perfect plan for each of us, even if we can’t understand it. God’s wisdom is infinite and only he knows why he allows certain things to occur. Continue to have the strength and courage God has given you, and Love even harder. Your words are encouraging to everyone, know that God loves you and yours. May God continue to shine his light upon you.

    Like

  4. Mandy

    Always sending nothing but positive thoughts your way. It’s so nice to see you happy and healing. Mason looks so big a beautiful!

    Like

  5. Anni

    I’m so glad to have found your blog again and to know that love has found its way to your heart once again. No doubt that there was some help from up above, I like you, believe in signs and this is truly a sign that someone is watching over you. XO

    Like

  6. Irma Garcia Rodriguez

    Im so happy for you and I’m jumping up and down of happiness for you. My nieces know you and shared your story with me. Enjoy life live it to the fullest and love love love ❤️ happy Valentine’s Day

    Like

  7. gisela

    Everyone deserves a second chance at happiness, God has his plan, we never know why but follow his messages and one day maybe, just maybe we will. God Bless

    Like

  8. Maria

    I am very happy for you both and the kids. I
    Unfortunately lost my son unexpectedly at the age of 22 and I will never have peace until my last breath. There is no name for this.

    Like

  9. Nicky

    You have no idea how happy I am for you honey. When I learned of your loss I was so incredibly heartbroken for your tremendous loss. Reading this, and knowing that you have been blessed, not only with your beautiful baby boy, but by a man that loves you both, makes me so so happy. Live, love and laugh always. It’s what Ralf would have wanted and what you deserve. XOXO

    Like

  10. Meylin

    I endured something similar to your story. I was 28 when my husband of almost 5 years suddenly passed away from viral Myocarditis at the age of 26. I had a 2-year-old girl and a 9-month-old baby boy. I thought my life was over. All the dreams we had talked about were suddenly gone. I met the man that is now my husband only 3 months later. It was at a friend’s house that we met. I was with my kids and still wore my wedding ring so naturally, he thought I was married. It wasn’t until after I left the house that he asked about me and my friend explained to him that I was the friend that had lost her husband. To make a long story short, a year and 3 months after we got married and that same year I got pregnant again and we had a little girl. He is the best father, husband and best friend I could’ve asked for. I was blessed like you to have 2 wonderful men in my life. This Valentine’s day we will be celebrating our 13th anniversary. Wishing you both a lifetime of happiness and may God always bless you, Vinnie and Mason.

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  11. Patti A

    So happy for you Vinnie I no it’s ben a rough road to travel God Bless you and your new life. Erica wouldn’t. want you to be alone. Shes up in heaven with Anthony smiling done on you. We will always have our memorys of her. Be happy and enjoy life because we never no how fast it can change.

    Like

  12. Sue Hogg

    In my heart I know that Ralf and Erica played a huge part in you and Vinnie connecting. You both have experienced the ultimate tragedy and now have each other to go on through life together. It is so nice to see the both of you smiling and in love. May God be with your beautiful family and give you a lifetime of happiness.

    Like

  13. Esther mcvoy

    Your writing is beautiful. God and Ralf have led you on a path to happiness. I pray for you and Mason. You are on a second path of life. May your love for Vinnie continue and bring you to a lifetime of happiness. ❤️

    Like

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