Can you help me? I’m A Widower? By John Checki Jr. CFP® M arch 1999. It was just after spring break and my wife was on the road to see our kids and grandchildren. I was having one of those low energy days and went home to take a break and the phone rang, “Where’s mom?” My son’s girlfriend was calling concerned. “She should be here already.” I was surprised my wife wasn’t there yet. She didn’t have her cell phone on so, I couldn’t reach her. She was driving a little four-speed, compact station wagon, probably smoking a ciga- rette and having a beer. “We all have our vices,” I was told more than once, over our 19 years of marriage. I heard the distinct sound of the police radio from the car driv- ing up our pebbled driveway. The car door opened. Leaving the car engine running, and the police radio blaring, a tall young policeman’s shoes crunched as he made his way to our front porch. Soon, there was loud knocking on our front door. “Are you John Checki?” “Yes.” I replied. “You need to call the medical examiner’s office. Do you want the number?” “Officer, is my wife deceased?” “Would you like their number?” He would not answer me except to provide the phone number. I called the examiner’s office and reached their voicemail. After what seemed like a lifetime, I finally reached someone on the other end of the line, “The medical examiner handling this case is not in.” “Okay, can you tell me if my wife is dead?” “I can’t really comment.” “Sir, I already left a message and I am begging you to get permission to talk to me, please.” He put down the phone. I waited. He returned to the line. “Mr. Checki, your wife Helen Janice Checki, 54 COLLIN COUNTY Living Well Magazine | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 was killed on I-35 just outside of Buda, Texas. Sorry.” “How did this happen?” “The report says speed and alcohol.” “Thank you.” I’m sorry to say, it’s not the biggest surprise. My wife drove fast, drank, and smoked cigarettes–– all at the same time. My son and I called to let people know, mom didn’t make it. We made funeral arrangements, wrote the eulogy, and hired the trumpet player to play, The Saints Go Marching In. I wished I wasn’t there. After comforting the rest of the world, I got tired of it and went to Cozumel to scuba dive and take a break. I wrote, dove, and tried to enjoy being alive. At first my world was scrambled––keys lost, phone lost, pots and pans all over the place getting lost. I put up hooks and reminders. I learned no one knows what to say and they’re hurting and missing my wife as well. How did I come through the fog and back into the light of day? Community helped. God, prayer, and faith were all es- sential. Realizing there are stages of grief and grief recovery. Relearning who I was as a man, father, husband, and now, a widower. I gave myself permission to carry on, work out regularly, eat well, have a drink now and then, go to bible classes, attend church, and practice saying “me” rather than “we.” I learned how to shop all over again, since all the kids were in college, and I was suddenly single, with only one mouth to feed. I was part of a speaking class with classes to attend, the opera to enjoy, and an old farm house on two acres of land to main- tain. Life would not be boring despite the lack of orientation and confusion, and not being able to find the pots and pans. (Where did she hide them?) I attended some Widowed Per- sons Services meetings, and a couple of grief recovery groups that helped in the process of coming back to the planet earth.