Jim & I met as pen-pals in 1984. I was born and raised in Singapore and was working for a British oil company when I came across a list of American men looking for pen-pals to write to. I picked 4 names and Jim’s was the last. We corresponded for a year and a half before finally meeting for the first time. Jim was very shy and at first I thought this wasn’t going to work because I kept doing all the talking. After our 5th day together, we suddenly clicked. Jim opened up and began telling me funny stories about his family and I knew that he was the one.
In 1986 we were married in Singapore and my friends and family just couldn’t believe that I was willing to give up all that was familiar to me, family, friends and culture to move half way around the globe to be Jim’s wife. We had our ups and downs, battled infertility for 4 years but all of these little things help cement our love for one another. I endured countless deployments and nights of loneliness but always knew that in a few days or weeks, Jim would come thru that door and yell, “Honey, I’m home!” and all would be right with the world.
In 1994, we welcomed our daughter, Emily and Jim was so proud of her but yet at the same time felt so scared as to how he was suppose to now protect this little bundle of joy. A year later, I gave Jim his most cherished wish, a son, Joshua. He was so very proud.
In 1998, after 20 years of service with the Army, 8 of which were spent in Special Forces, Jim retired. We moved back to Massachusetts and Jim got a job with the US Postal Service. We were now living the American dream, a house, two children, two cars and we were happy.
On the morning of July 11, 2009, I woke up to a beautiful summer Saturday and started to get ready to head out to the gym. Something kept telling me to forgo the gym and climb back into bed and lay with Jim. I chose to ignore the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach and headed out.
After an hour, I noticed I had 2 missed calls from Jim’s phone. I called the house – no answer; I called Jim’s cell – no answer. I immediately thought someone had died. I went to pick up my daughter from a sleepover and as I got out of the car, my cell phone rang, it was Jim. In his familiar calm voice, he told me that he was at the ER with chest pains. Jim had been seeing his doctor for chest pains that were chalked up to stress. When Emily & I arrived at the ER 3 minutes later, we were told to sit and wait in the waiting area as Jim was undergoing X-rays. 40 minutes later, my cell phone rings and it is Jim calling. I pick up and say “Where are you? We are waiting in the waiting room!” but it’s not Jim , it is the ER nurse. I knew that this was not a good sign. She reaffirmed my feeling but taking us into the family room to tell us that Jim had coded in the ambulance on his way to the cath lab and that it didn’t look good.
I felt my world start to crack and thought this can’t be happening, I am too young to be a widow. The nurse took me to the treatment room where I watched them perform CPR on the love of my life. By the coloring of Jim’s face and his cold hand when I reached for them, I knew he was gone and that I was all alone. After 43 minutes of CPR, the ER doctor stopped CPR and pronounced Jim dead at 51 years of age. I now walked back to the family room to tell my children that their father was dead. How could this be? Jim was supposed to grow old with me. He was supposed to go to Europe in 2010 when my daughter, he was supposed to watch her graduate, to walk her down the aisle and to hold his first born grandchild – how could he be dead?
It has been 15 months since Jim’s passing and it still hurts too much to allow myself to fully comprehend that the love of my life, my soulmate, the father of my children is no longer with us. My heart aches daily for the man whose arms I sought comfort in after my parents death, who will now comfort me? It pains me to wake up every morning and to look at my children’s faces and know they will have to go through life without their father.
The light in my life has been snuffed out but my faith keeps me going, knowing that when my time comes, I will be reunited with Jim, the only man I ever loved and that we will once again be happy.