Thursday, May 14, 2015

Wife to Widow: One year later

One year has come and gone. I’m not sure how this can be? To be honest, I still often wonder how this tragedy, a nightmare I couldn’t have even dreamed possible, became my reality. One year ago I felt as though my world stopped. I quickly learned, though, that despite my brokenness, shock, and heartache, life continues on… Days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and just like that, my year of firsts is complete. If you would have asked me one year ago where I envisioned myself today, I probably would have given you a blank, emotionless stare and simply muttered, “I don’t know.” The element of shock blanketed my entire being—my mind numb & my heart shattered into a million little pieces. Fast forward 365 days and life as a widow proves to be survivable.

While this year has been full of “firsts” and many unknowns, one thing I do know is that I’m in a different place than I was one year ago. I never intended to “blog my way through grief” over this past year, but it seems as though I did just that. I don’t believe this journey, a journey of sorrow & hope, ever completely ends, but I do think you learn how to maneuver the twists & turns, and eventually, pave new paths. Even though I have a long road ahead, I’m proud of where I am today in my journey and couldn’t have done it without all of you, my biggest fans and prayer warriors. I’m not sure of my blogging future from here on out, but wanted to give you some perspective on what I’ve learned going from wife to widow over this past year…

They say time heals, and after one year, I can attest that this theory is somewhat true. However, with that being said, I can also tell you that there is a piece of my heart that still aches just as much today as it did 365 days ago. Some days that pain is roaring with a vengeance bringing me back to my early days of grief, while other days, it’s simply more of an ache, but nonetheless, I continue to feel the pain of losing my husband EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I can also tell you that what is perceived as strength to all of you is merely survival to me… survival of making it through the hour {yes, one hour} in those early days, survival of getting through another week without him, survival of checking that “single” box on paperwork  {where’s the “widow” box?}, survival of getting through church without having a complete breakdown, survival of making every decision by yourself, survival of every tragedy without him to hold me up, survival of every joy that he is not here to share, survival of taking care of a house and 2 dogs without a partner in crime. Widowhood= survival of the fittest… Who knew?

There are a few other things I have determined over the last 12 months… Despite what the outside world thinks, laughing when your world is flipped upside down & your heart is broken, is completely ACCEPTABLE. Not only is it acceptable, it’s necessary. And does the soul wonders! It’s ok to laugh, to cry, and then forget how old you are & where you misplaced your phone that you’re holding in your left hand… That, my friends, is what we call “widow brain.” If you’ve experienced widowhood, you know exactly what I’m talking about. For those of you who are blessed to not be part of the ‘hood, trust me when I say that the “widow brain” theory is very real and very true. I’ve also come to the conclusion that widowhood requires more patience with oneself than you could imagine, a deeper faith than you thought was possible, an amount of courage that is beyond measurable, and……..…… an entire village. I would not be where I am today without both of our families, an army of friends, our amazing community, and countless strangers. THANK YOU. No words will ever express my gratitude to all of you who have walked right beside me on this journey over the past year, offering prayers of love, encouragement, and healing.

Since the moment I learned my husband wasn’t coming home to me, I vowed to carry on his legacy and live a life here on Earth that would make him proud. For me, carrying on DJ Fischer’s legacy means living life to it’s very fullest {something he was known to do in his short time}… a life full of fun, adventure, love, spontaneity, and grace. It means moving forward and finding happiness again. It means working hard, being generous, and paying it forward. This is no easy task… Big guy, big shoes, big legacy. However, I couldn’t be more proud that he chose me as his wife and I’m so grateful to be one of many carrying on his touching legacy. I’m heartbroken that we don’t get to live out our dreams together as planned, but I do know the absolute best way I can honor him, is to the live the life he dreamed of on this Earth.

A friend once told me, “to forget is impossible, to grow is inevitable…” After one year of grieving, dreaming new dreams, and sending up a million prayers, I have accepted a job in Sioux Falls, SD and will {finally} begin my career as a nurse anesthetist In June/July. I am excited for this new beginning as one year ago, I wasn’t sure if this dream would be fulfilled. It will be bittersweet leaving behind what was supposed to be, but I am confident this is what he would want me to do. So with that being said, I will be taking a break from blogging this summer as I settle into a new home, a new job, and my new “normal.”

When I started this blog 11 months ago, I never anticipated writing every month. I had zero expectations of myself and simply needed an outlet with all that was taking place in my life. I wasn’t interested in talking at that time, so writing became my therapy. And you all became my lifeline. I entitled this blog “Hitting Rock Bottom & Choosing to Get Back Up” because I did hit rock bottom, but somehow, even amidst my darkest days, I still believed I had choice in how I was going to live my life post-loss. I chose the tough option—the option of getting back up—climbing an endless mountain, with the summit being Heaven someday. I miss my husband dearly every hour of every day. And I will love him always. Two pieces to the puzzle of my life will forever be missing, but will eternally hold a special place in my heart, being carried with me wherever I may go in this crazy, beautiful life.

Thanks for reading & Happy summer.

With love always,


{In loving memory of DJ, Brent, Nick, & Logan}

Friday, April 10, 2015


Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.

I cannot believe we are approaching one year since 4 souls were tragically taken from us all too soon. I can honestly say these past 11 months have been the fastest, yet longest months of my life. It’s been a roller coaster of ups and downs {definitely more downs than ups!} It’s been a year to grieve… To shed more tears than you could think is humanly possible… To dream new dreams… A year to grow in my faith… To heal my broken-heart… To face new fears I didn’t know could even exist… To embrace this life I was given… A year to remember and cherish all the wonderful memories I was able to make with my hubby in our short time together. It’s been a year.

Sometime during this past year, I came across an acronym for the word “hope.” And to this day—it has stuck in my mind and heart. This particular acronym has gotten me out of bed many mornings and has fueled my drive to move forward in this crazy life. The acronym, Hold On Pain Ends, provides a glimmer of light in the bleak world of widowhood. I love it—simple, straightforward, and something to look forward to. And while I don’t think pain necessarily ends per se, I do think that it evolves over time in order to allow the broken-hearted to find a sense of peace. I look forward to this day. But until then, there is pain, yet there is hope…

One of my toughest nights as a widow was meeting up with my 3 widow warriors to collect our late husband’s belongings that were on board the airplane. I prepared myself to see the worst, and it was worse than the worst. Upon walking into the musty, eerie room, I laid eyes on DJ’s mangled headset. It was the headset he ALWAYS wore when flying. I nearly fell to my knees. I briefly stopped breathing. And I cried.  That hot night in July was our attempt to find some closure, together, as none of us were able to see our husbands one last time to say our final goodbyes. We hugged, we shed tears, we even laughed somewhat {Thank you, DJ, for packing Wranglers that maybe would have fit in high school...} as we tried to comprehend our new hellish, painful reality.

A few weeks after that unpleasant, never-want-to-remember night in July, I began counseling. My counselor {who I adore, by the way} suggested I find something to symbolize DJ. I knew exactly what that something was going to be… His headset. I managed to peak my eyes into the black garbage bag, storing all of his ruined belongings, to grab the headset, and then quickly shoved the bag back into hiding where it still remains to this day. I cleaned up the broken headset as best as I could and found a new home for it… A simple white gift bag {received just one month prior to the accident with a wedding gift in it from our dear friends} with the word “Hope” stamped on it and below it, the bible verse—Jeremiah 29:11.
“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
To be honest, that damn headset ignited my newly widowed anxiety and created a whole new roller coaster of emotions that brought me back to that fateful, horrid night in April. One day, though, as I held his damaged headset in my shaking hands with tears streaming down my face, I was slowly able to put the broken parts and wires back where they belonged and before I knew it, his headset, though still ruined and “broken”, was intact again. And all of the sudden that previously mangled headset became a representation of myself, never functioning the same, but whole again with a couple of warrior wounds that will always remain. That day, I found hope… in a headset.
“I feel more hopeful, not just for heaven someday, but for life today.”  {Anna Whiston-Donaldson}
April is a tough month. Our year of “firsts” is nearly complete—Thank you God. On the other hand, this journey through grief is only just beginning. It is summed up best in the book Rare Bird, a memoir of loss and love, written by Anna Whiston-Donaldson when she says, “I am not going to resign myself to the second year being worse, but I’m not going to expect to feel healed just because we make it to the one-year mark either.” As always, thank you for your healing prayers, your continued thoughts, words of encouragement, and HOPE for a brighter tomorrow. No words will ever express my gratitude that I have for all of you who have lifted me up this past year. I ask for your continued prayers, even though it’s been nearly a year, and I ask that you always remember four incredible men—DJ, Brent, Nick, & Logan.

With love & gratitude,

{In honor & in memory of my pilot who is flying high with Jesus}

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Love without End

I would be lying if I told you today was “just another day” in my foreign widowhood world. While it has been almost 11 months since my husband went home to the Lord, today is the day we said, “I do” just one short year ago. We were surrounded by 68 {Give or take a few… minor Mexico wedding detail—there was plenty of tequila regardless} of our most precious family & friends in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. It was a perfect, windy day full of love, joy, and complete happiness! It was the best day of my life.

Our wedding video arrived at our doorstep via UPS about one week after the funeral. I couldn’t bear to even open the package, let alone watch our beautiful day unfold before my eyes. My heart throbbed and my numb mind panicked. So, the package was placed in our safe… until today. Wonderful memories filled my broken, healing heart as I watched, being brought back to our perfect day. I smiled. Some gentle tears fell. And I laughed… because let’s be real, there was bound to be some bloopers during the Fischer nuptials in Mexico!

As I watched & listened to us declaring our love to each other, there was one line that pulled at my heartstrings. Each of us vowed, “We will always weather the storm.” {Typical Mexico-style vows} And even though he’s no longer here, I am. Fulfilling my  promise to my forever husband of weathering the storm. I know he is proud and probably calling me a “tough ‘ol bird” {He was such a romantic!} from the heavens above. Although today is bittersweet, it will always be a day to celebrate and remember a great love without end.

<3   3.12.14   <3

My forever friend {Amy} surprised me
the morning of our wedding!

We didn't see each other until I walked down the aisle... It was amazing!

Sending our love to DJ's dad in Heaven...
Mr. & Mrs. Fischer!

In closing, I thank you all for your nonstop love that surrounds me, encouragement that lifts me, and prayers of peace & healing that bring me hope. I know GOD is close to the brokenhearted, and for that, I’m thankful. I feel HIS love. Another love without end…. AMEN! Cheers to a great love that once was and will always be... 

Sending Happy Anniversary wishes to my beloved husband in Heaven today.

{In honor of my forever husband & our love}
~... Don't worry I will eat your share 
of our 1 year (freezer burnt) cake today...~

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dancing Through the Shadows

Nearly 10 months has come and gone since losing my husband, and let me tell you, it has been a LONG, gut-wrenching 10 months with more heart-ache than you could dream possible. While most days I feel as though the “fog” of widowhood has lifted, there continues to be days where my grief straight up exhausts me. Today {2.10.15} is one of those days… I’m blaming this cold, gloomy weather after enjoying the sunshine all of last week while vacationing in San Diego, CA. Needless to say, I have cabin fever! 

As time continues to pass me by, I feel like I’m stuck in the shadows watching the world spin ‘round and everyone else’s life stories unfold. I was not prepared for how much time my broken heart was going to need to heal. Nor was I prepared for the fear of the unknown that accompanies grief. Furthermore, grief seems to be this sneaky identity thief. I feel robbed of my life, as the element of shock has vanished. The life we lived together has become distant memory; yet my heart speaks otherwise as mending wounds become ripped open over and over again proving grief to be ever so relentless.

After coming to grips with the “big” losses so to speak, I recently find myself grief-stricken over all of the little things that made our love & ungodly short marriage so perfect to us … I miss him being our mail retriever and sorter. I miss having conversation over coffee and making breakfast together. I miss him grabbing my arm or leg to pull me in for a quick hug, as I would walk by him. I miss his crooked, little smirk he would give me when I would say something to make him smile. I miss going out to the airport just to say hi and steal a kiss. I miss sharing a bottle {or 2} of wine together. I miss him putting his hand on the small of my back as he opened a door for me. I miss spontaneous airplane rides at sunset. I miss him giving me wet willies. I miss him putting his arm around me at church during the sermon and always kissing my cheek during the sharing of the Peace. I miss him balancing the checkbook and taking out the garbage. I miss him coming home in his chemical stained clothes, with greasy helmet-head hair, and a furry face after a spray run. I miss seeing how excited our dogs got to see him come home. I miss the EMS/fire pager going off and seeing him go running out the door, and then always safely returning home after those calls. I miss him calling me “honey” & “babes.” I miss being each other’s biggest, yet most rewarding challenge. Most of all, I miss how safe he made me feel and his love that surrounded me always. It’s true—the price you pay for incredible love is incredible grief.

While I will always consider DJ my “forever husband” I hope to, one day, love again and be loved. If there is one thing I know I NEED to do, it’s just that… Several times throughout our 22 months together I asked him “What would I ever do without you?” {Typical pilot’s girlfriend/wife question} He always responded with the same answer, usually with a little chuckle {as if I was asking some crazy, off-the-wall question}, “Honey, you will be fine. You will have to find someone to take care of you and get remarried.” And then he would kiss my cheek and go about whatever he was doing. I remember feeling paralyzed & thinking in those moments ‘What?!?? How is he so matter-of-fact, nonchalant, and truly at peace with this potential situation??’ But he was. And for those little moments, I’m thankful for his blessing in disguise. So with the upcoming “Hallmark Holiday” {Valentine’s Day} I thought I would shed some light on the big “D” word........


Here’s what I know… (1) I’m not quite ready to enter the dating world again {Lord help me}, but (2) someday, I will be ready. And (3) although it will be a different love, I believe it will still be beautiful. Dare I say, it may even be a greater love?! Stay with me… It’s not what you think.  I say “greater” because as a widow you’re granted this rare perspective of love & marriage. You see love in a different, extraordinary light. It’s bright and beautiful and full of gleam. I know darkness; therefore, I appreciate the light. And even though I’m still dancing through the shadows of this crazy, so unpredictable life, I do look forward to finding the light again just as my forever husband would want me to do.
I can’t believe it has been nearly 10 months since my life was flipped upside down. I can’t believe I’ve been his widow longer than I was his fiancé and wife. I do believe, however, that GOD has a plan for me, and purpose for my heartache. If there is one thing I’ve clung to it’s the fact that HE didn’t promise days without pain & sorrow, but HE did promise to be with you always, even through the shadows. AMEN :)

Continued thanks to all of you—my prayer warriors, my inspirations, my uplifting spirits! This widow is beyond thankful for your unending support & love!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Bittersweet Beginnings

A new year is upon us, and to be honest, I couldn’t be more thankful and relieved for just that—I welcomed 2015 with open arms. As you all know 2014 was not a good year; it was a year that started out amazing, almost too perfect, actually, and ended with even more devastation and heartache. As I reflect back on all of the happiness, love and complete bliss that filled our lives in our short time together in 2014, I can’t help but smile and be sad at the same time. I smile at the beautiful memories we made… memories that I will forever cherish. Yet I shed tears over the many memories we didn’t get the opportunity create—dreams that are no longer dreams, but instead, a heartbreaking image of “what should have been.” There were so many things we were supposed to do together and milestones we were supposed to conquer together in our life here on Earth!

While I wish I could say that 2014 was the “worst year of my life”, I can’t. It’s the year that I completed my Master’s program for nurse anesthesia and beyond that, it’s the year that I was blessed by the grace of GOD to be able to marry the man of my dreams, my soul mate. Before we were engaged, DJ & I were discussing wedding dates/timeframes. With a crop duster’s schedule to consider, along with our parents in the farm industry- spring, summer, and fall were out. A winter wedding it would be! I, very-so-kindly, gave him a 6 month window from popping the big question to wedding day. If you knew my husband, he waited to do everything last minute. While we were pretty set on an early March 2014 wedding date, we had also contemplated December 2014 nuptials. That way I could take my certification exam immediately upon finishing school and hopefully, settle into a job before the craziness of wedding planning… Realistically speaking- this would be the better option.  Following our engagement, though, complete joy and excitement fulfilled us, any notions of reality were overshadowed, and we couldn’t wait to become Mr & Mrs! Little did I know I would go from wife {3.12.14} to widow {4.27.14} just 6 weeks after “I Do” and while I would give anything for more time, I am SO thankful for the short time we did have as husband and wife.

Knowing that DJ & I will never celebrate any of those “firsts” {or seconds, thirds, fourths, etc…} has been tough on this young widow. Thanks to a loving, supportive family & group of friends, I managed to get through this first holiday season without him somewhat gracefully. A dear friend {a woman who I have actually never met, but have been in the same vicinity as her on two separate occasions- our husband’s funerals} sent me the most perfect package during the holiday season and in it was a journal with a cover that read “I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection” How fitting, right? I LOVE it! So I shifted my focus to just that- grace, not perfection. Some tears were cried, but there were smiles and laughter, too. New memories were made, and we reminisced old ones as well. It was, no doubt, a different kind of Christmas. And while I thought I had every excuse in the book to completely skip Christmas, I came to the realization that this year, of all years, was the year to celebrate. Not because it would be easy {it wasn’t} but because thanks to that little baby born in a stable, our Savior, we are granted peace & eternal life in the most beautiful place- Heaven. Now that deserves a celebration.

Speaking of celebrations, I rang in the New Year in typical Fischer-fashion, turning my garage into a tropical paradise... There was even a hot tub party {and I don’t have a hot tub…!} While I look forward to 2015, I do so with bittersweet hesitation. A new year resembles a new chapter in life—a chapter that my husband will be only a memory—a bittersweet beginning. With 365 blank pages staring me in the face, I decided to engage in a gratitude challenge, where each day over the course of 2015 I will find something to be thankful for because as you know “there is always, always something to be thankful for.” Gratitude is powerful, especially following loss, as it has the capability to bring forth hope, positivity, and even happiness through all of life’s trials and tribulations. Even ugly days can still be picturesque :)

"Gratitude has the power to help those in mourning rise above their loss. It is life affirming. It can provide hope. And, perhaps most important, it can help us let go of the past and focus on the abundance that surrounds us now."

As I begin this new year, I continue my journey, a journey of sorrow & promised hope. With heartache comes healing, and with healing comes growth and the opportunity for new beginnings. I look forward to these bittersweet beginnings just as my late husband would want me to do. While it is incredibly challenging and takes courage that is beyond measurable, I do believe there is life after loss and you have 2 options—you can either (1) embrace it & live it or (2) sulk in your sorrow & let it pass you by… Thanks to all of you for inspiring me to go with option #1! As always, I remain SO grateful for all of your continued prayers and words of encouragement. I will close with a quote I received in a weekly email from one of my favorites widows {Christina Rasmussen, author of Second Firsts} in regards to her wishes for anyone embarking on a journey of sorrow, “…But most of all more hope, hope that things can get better. Not because time is passing by but because you are strong enough to choose life once again.”

Cheers to 2015 & new beginnings!


{In honor of my angel baby
—who was due to arrive this week—
but is soaring the skies of Heaven with his/her daddy instead.}