My Michelle – Sneak Peak #1

When I stood up to speak the eulogy I looked out and there were a lot of people.  I had thought that I wanted to honor Michelle in this way but now I was just tired, just sad, just depleted.  My soul was crushed. I didn’t know if I would be able to get through the first word without crying, expecting myself to have a complete breakdown the likes of which I had so many times before during her cancer battle.  Somehow I made it through, speaking the words that I had written quickly and worked to perfect over the course of a couple of weeks, while I focused my mind on something else. Something better. Something magical.

Our wedding. The dream night that we had thought about for so long that never did occur, stolen from us right along with our fifty years.

I spoke, people listened, but my mind was imagining that fairytale night when we would become one in front of all of our family and friends.

I imagined getting ready that morning, hopefully I would look decent, maybe even semi good.  It was a rare occurrence but sometimes I could actually look handsome on my absolute best of days.  I imagined seeing everyone as they entered, friends and family coming up to me one by one as I’d already be fighting back tears well before go time.  I imagined the wedding procession and the beautiful songs we had picked.  My mom and Joe first, I’d keep it together for them I predicted, followed by Emma and Luca, that’s when the tears would begin.  I imagined the other children walking down the aisle and then the twins, they’d likely bumble and stumble a bit until finally making it to their appropriate destination. The room would be filled with smiles and laughter as each set of children walked down. I imagined the candles, the flowers and the romance of it all.  Hundreds of candles surrounding us as we would say our vows, purple rose pedals scattered throughout the beautiful room. And then I imagined the song starting to play.

No, not the traditional bridal song. Michelle and I had picked ‘At Last’ by Etta James, a song that I had loved forever and that fit our story so perfectly. Everyone would stand. I’d fight with all my mite to not completely lose it at this point.

And then I imagined her.

Michelle.

Walking down the aisle we had created for her. I imagined the dress she loved so dearly and how I would react seeing her in it for the time.  I imagined the stunning shoes she picked out, yes that 3rd and final pair. I imagined the perfectly placed hair and makeup, she’d be more beautiful than ever before. I had dreamt about this moment since I was seventeen years old.

This moment. With this girl. The love of my life.

I imagined the tears I would shed, the beauty she would radiate and the happiness I would feel.  I imagined our vows. I’d surely be crying at this point, rather hysterically, her a single tear, maybe more.  After all, she had been showing more emotion as of late, maybe there would be a second tear, or a third. And then I imagined the dance.  Our first dance. We had picked the most romantic of songs, Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers.  Years of history would go into that dance, from a powerful and true teenage love, to years apart and an implausible reunion neither of us could have imagined in our wildest dreams.  From the first time I met Emma to the romantic engagement over a decade in the making, to a cancer battle and coming out victorious on the other side.

It was supposed to be our dance, our moment in time, the ending to a fairytale romance and the beginning of fifty beautiful years of happiness and joy.

I imagined this knowing that it was a dream. A dream that could no longer come true.  I read the words that I had written for my beautiful wife, somehow managing to only choke up and not completely fall apart.

I read and people listened.

I honored her, as she deserved to be honored.

12 Comments


    1. // Reply

      Thanks Kathy!


  1. // Reply

    Your journey and your words are amazing. Going through my own with my mom right now. I know that even the ugly parts I would not trade for anything.


  2. // Reply

    So beautiful, love to you and emma xox


  3. // Reply

    I had Michelle as a student in middle school at Elm Middle School. She was a sweet and beautiful person inside and out. I will never forget her as she touched my heart and life. I am so sorry for your loss, but know that Michelle lives on through those she encountered. I consider myself lucky to have known her.
    Denise Graczyk


  4. // Reply

    What a beautiful eulogy. She’s sounds like the best of the best. Cheering you you and Emma.


  5. // Reply

    What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman. I am so glad you found one another again. A wonderful love story with a not so happy ending. When i lost my husband it hurt so profoundly, but i wouldnt have wanted to be anywhere else but by his side as he took his last breath. She will always be with you and Emma.


  6. // Reply

    Hi, this is such a nice tribute to her, she sounds amazing. I lost my husband to cancer 8 months ago and we have a 6 year old and now 8 month old, he died 2 weeks after she was born. It is so hard but helps to know other people are going through similar things. Thanks for sharing this! 🙂


  7. // Reply

    Heartbreaking but beautiful. Thank you for sharing Michelle and your love for her&Emma.


  8. // Reply

    So touching! What an amazing love you share! I know Michelle is looking down on you and Emma. As you told, Emma, her mommy and your wife will always be with you, John. Thank you for sharing this eulogy and beautiful story!


  9. // Reply

    Your eulogy was so beautiful and touching. My husband, David, died from head and neck cancer after fighting for 3 years. When he was first diagnosed we were under the impression he would have a few surgeries, radiation and that would be it. He had his first surgery to remove 2/3rds of his nose and then reconstruction. It went from basal cell to squamous cell and spread to his neck, the roof of his mouth and his lungs. We were told in August of 2014 he had 2 months to live. He passed away the day before the 2 months were up.. We were high school sweethearts and were married 36 years (this month on the 13th will be 38 years). As devastating as it was to watch my soulmate go from a healthy, hard working man to nothing but skin and bones, what helps me through is knowing we had all those years together, 2 wonderful daughters and 3 grandchildren that he got to be there for. He is my hero! He never gave up even after 15 surgeries, 2 rounds of radiation and chemo. He worked up until his last year. I was his caregiver and we had hospice come in the last 2 months, but he was home where he wanted to be those last months and passed away in our bed. Even though we won’t grow old together, I’m lucky that I got to share 40 years with the man I love and to have his love through those years.


  10. // Reply

    I just found your blog since facebook seems to know I’m a widow and thought it should advertise accordingly. I’m glad it did. I’m part of an amazing group of young widows on facebook, but it’s new to hear from a widower. My husband died in December 2015, just a few weeks before Michelle. Thanks for writing a blog and a book. It’s so helpful to talk openly about this experience and learn to share it with those around us and the world. If you haven’t heard of Nora McInerny Purmort, check her out. She started our club and just wrote a book too.

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