Being Mormon

I became a widow at twenty-four

Hello from Alaska! November 2019!

Here I am in a space I’ve not been in for years. Spending time with a dear friend from my Eugene, Oregon days. Both sharing our memories of Greg and who we both were when we first met 27 years ago.

I’ve come out of my hiding place–not that I was hiding actually. I was finishing off my final year of my writing degree. A lot has happened this year. Lots of good, lots of busy, lots of writing and loads of reflecting. And sadly, I lost a brother in September. My older brother, Allan. It’s been sad for all of us and being so far away and missing his funeral was extremely hard for me. His death came at the same time major assignments were due, but I pulled through it. I found strength within…again. Thank you to all of those close to me who checked in on me and helped me navigate through a tough time. You know who you are.

I think my last post was back in April this year–sorry. It’s been way too long.

Greg

For those of you who don’t know Greg, He was my first husband. (Yes, I was married before.) We got married young, well it didn’t seem too young to us. We were twenty-one but we only had a few short years together. I became a widow at twenty-four.

Greg died on 18 November 1995, a day I have re-lived, thought about, questioned, obsessed over, and re-arranged the events of that day in my mind for years.

On 19 November 2019, Greg will have been dead more years than he was living.

My friend, Michele is my validation.

She was there for me after the craziness of that night. She held me, she cried with me, she played with my hair and her heart bled along with mine.

She was there with me then, and I’m here with her now.

This year, I’ve been writing a lot, working on my story, working on my book. I’ve written a lot about my childhood, and the first husband that I lost when we were both only twenty-four. It’s now that I am 48, it’s easier to look back and see how 18 November 1995 has shaped me over the years.

I’d like to share a snippet of that writing with you now…

Our engagement photo

Saturday, 18 November 1995

Eugene, Oregon

I hate baby showers and usually try to avoid them. I’m only here out of sheer guilt. I smile, I laugh, I play a few stupid games thinking about my impending exit. As I sit on the couch, I hear my own voice say to me, ‘You’re OK without Greg’. A thought that just randomly enters my head and scares me. Why would I think that I wonder. I look at the clock with a sickening feeling, 8.30 pm. I decide an hour and a half is long enough. I say my goodbyes and make my way to my car.

I’m a nervous driver, but I haven’t always been. Last year, I was in two car accidents, neither of which were my fault. Both drivers were intoxicated.

The first drunk rear-ended me while I was stopped at a red light. I walked away from that one, but our week-old wedding gifts in the backseat were a write-off, along with the car. Six months later, a second driver hit me while I was attempting to turn at an intersection. This drunk ran a red light too. He smashed into me on the driver’s side, causing my car to spin into a telephone pole. He didn’t even attempt to stop.

People came running over to help. I recall someone saying, ‘I’ve got to pull you out. Can you see the flames?’ I did see the flames, but I couldn’t register what that meant. My response was, ‘I have a husband.’ But my brain couldn’t remember his name. I was in shock.

The next thing I remember was seeing Greg’s worried face, waking me up with kisses in the hospital. He was in shock too.

I leave the baby shower and get into the car and pull up to the corner of an empty street. I look both ways, then again and once more, before pulling out onto the road. It’s a straight shot home, an easy drive, with Greg sitting next to me in the passenger seat.

‘There you are obeying all the speed limits,’ says Greg.

‘Of course, I don’t want to get into another accident,’ I reply out loud as if he were there.

I don’t think much of it. Maybe it’s a way to deal with the fear of driving on my own, imagining him there, keeping me company.

When I pull up to our townhouse and get out, Riley is meowing at me.

‘What are you doing outside?’

He starts to purr, weaving in and out of my legs, making it hard for me to walk. I scoop him up and cuddle him as I walk up the steps to the porch. I twist the knob, but it’s locked. Lights are on inside so I ring the doorbell five times fast and knock. ‘Greg, open the door.’ I let Riley jump down feeling annoyed about having to get my keys out of my bag. I unlock the door, drop my keys back into my handbag and call out to Riley to follow me. I turn the knob and step in, but the deadbolt is locked. Now I have to search for my keys at the bottom of my bag again, and I’m irritated. I unlock the deadbolt and open the door and walk into a wall of silence. Greg was just lying there on the floor between the coffee table and TV stand.

‘Greg, why are you on the floor? Didn’t you hear me knocking?’

‘Greg, are you sleeping? What’s wrong?’

‘GREG!’

I run for the phone. It takes me three tries to dial the number.

‘9-1-1, what is your emergency?’

‘I need an ambulance quick …something’s wrong with my husband. I just came home to find him lying on the floor. He’s not moving. Please hurry!’

‘Can you please describe him?’

I run over to him and kneel. ‘He’s on his back, legs stretched out, arms near his sides. His head is turned to his right, away from me, eyes closed.’

I hear her quick typing as I rub his hand.

The 911-operator keeps talking. I’m annoyed at her questions and spit out the answers as best as I can.

‘Are they coming?’ I yell.

‘Yes, I’m dispatching an ambulance now.’

‘Thank you.’

I confirm the address.

‘Don’t hang up,’ she says. ‘I need to stay on the line with you until they arrive.’

‘Hang on, Greg. Help is on the way.’ I take his hand in mine. It’s cold, but his hands are always cold. I hold it to my chest, trying to warm it up and kiss it.

She reassures me they are on their way and asks if I want to try CPR. YES!

I know CPR, but I can’t think. She tells me what to do. I straighten his head and tilt it back. I lean over him then see a pool of blood. ‘There’s blood,’ I scream.

Then I notice something on the floor between his right leg and his right arm.

His gun.

‘Kaylynn, I need you to check the doors and windows.’ She’s now worried about my safety. I put the phone down and run around checking, but everything is locked. The clunk of the deadbolt still echoes in my head.

‘No one else is here.’ I tell her

‘Kaylynn. They are close.’

I go back to Greg and try to wake him with my kisses. ‘I love you, Greg.’ I lay my head on his chest, craving comfort and reassurance from him.

It’s just him, me and the 911-operator.

Clarity comes, I sit up taking a big gasp in, staring at my tears on his T-shirt.

What if this is it?

A calmness comes over me.

Preparing myself for the worst, I talk to her.

‘I’m going to describe him, and you tell me what you think.’

‘OK.’

‘He’s cold. His face is white, and he’s not moving.’

‘It doesn’t sound good.’ Then she says. ‘Kaylynn, they’re on your street.’

I open the front door to lights and sirens: three police cars and two ambulances. I scream, jump and wave. An officer takes the phone out of my hand as four big paramedics step onto my porch.

‘Get in there and fix him! Get in there and fix him!’ I’m screaming and crying standing outside the front door.

They come straight back out. I push the first guy back in. ‘You didn’t fix him.’ He falls into the others behind him.

‘I’m sorry, he’s gone.’

Everything goes black.

Thanks for reading…Here is a post about how Greg and I first met in high school. Let me know if you’d like to read more. xoxo Kaylynn

14 thoughts on “I became a widow at twenty-four”

  1. Such a hard read, but a powerful one. I didn’t know Greg well–I mostly remember his smile–but I remember learning of his passing and that tremendous sense of helplessness I felt in the wake of your unimaginable loss. I know he’d be so glad that you fell in love, married, and had children, that you’re living your best life, honoring both your present and your past.

    I’m sending a virtual hug your way.

  2. Oh gosh. I’m sorry for everything you went through, Kaylynn. And for Greg. Your writing reads great. I wanted to keep reading. Keep going xo

  3. Dear Kaylynn, I’ve just read your latest article about Greg. (I only knew about in few words you shared on our temple trip)
    It feels unreal as what took place. Deep trauma in your young adulthood.
    You amaze me how strong you appear today, after harsh things happened to you as early in your life.
    I understand you and feel for you.
    We are blessed to have important answers, as it makes difference. We receive needed strength as we draw closer to our Creator and the One who made it possible to overcome, to heal from tragedies and find new joys ( in this world full of opposition).

  4. Kaylynn, I knew a small piece of your past from our editor/author relationship but not about this. What an incredible person you are. Please keep writing. E

  5. You are such a special human being Kaylynn. A long time ago you told me you were widowed young but I didn’t realise the tragic circumstances. I love reading your writings. Enjoy your time with your family and friends in America. Miss you. Jeanette

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