It seems so many other Hope for Widow bloggers have written recently about significant dates without their husbands Those brave posts have been validating for me. Still, as I approach the one year anniversary of Todd’s death, I can’t write about anything else. It has pervaded my thoughts for weeks. Memories are consuming me, interrupting my work, and bringing him alive again. I’ve survived holidays and birthdays, but nothing prepared me for how difficult this occasion would be.

What’s worse is that Todd was pronounced dead in the early hours of Oct. 17, but most likely he died in the evening of Oct. 16. For me, I have two dates to mourn.

Losing time

I’ve found myself staring at Todd’s pictures on my dresser and losing time. I see him alive again, like watching a double exposure film scene–with my 17-year-old eyes when I first saw him simultaneously with my 51-year-old eyes–and he is alive and laughing, his eyes the blue of deep water, his lower lip pouty and wet. I blink and look away, shaking off the feeling, and I don’t know how much time has passed. Seconds? Minutes? How old am I now? I’m transported, suspended in my thoughts of him.

The other morning I could swear he was curled next to me in bed. He was warm, and I could hear him breathing. I knew how his chest would feel under my fingertips if I turned over.

Everything about the week before he died has been coming back to me vividly. The day before he died, we took an afternoon nap. It was warm, humid, and cloudy, and I had trouble falling asleep with no breeze coming in the open window, but I slept eventually and had a strange dream about an airport. Todd cooked chili for dinner, and we ate early because we were going to see Blade Runner 2049 for the second time. On the way to the theater, we talked about how golden the uncut soybean fields looked in the setting sunlight. The morning of his death, I kissed him twice on the porch before I left for work.  As I walked away from him after the first kiss, I remembered how I used to run back up the porch steps when we first dated for a second kiss, giddy in love. So I ran back to him for a second kiss, then I told him I loved him, words we never said lightly or tacked onto our goodbyes.

Time does its thing

In this last year without Todd, I’ve learned that time does not heal. It blurs and dulls memories and feelings. I haven’t been coping; I’ve only been letting time do its thing.  But, as his death date approaches, my memories are sharper and clearer than they’ve been in months. My brain is not dulled, and neither is the pain of missing him. When I get home every afternoon, there’s no Todd–no one to watch old movies with on TCM, no one to discuss with, no one to plan camping trips with, no one to hold me, no one to share myself with.

I’ve also learned that the stages of grief loop and overlap. Anger would have come sooner if the stages were linear, but here it is at last. Seeing a happy couple used to make me sad at what I once had and lost. As Oct. 16 nears, I can’t even abide all the “happy anniversary,” hand-holding, look- at-us-we’re-a-happy-couple posts on social media. I’m ready to quit FaceBook altogether. I’m not angry at Todd. I’m angry that these people are so callous that they flaunt their togetherness in the face of my solitariness. I’m darkly smug in my certainty that the happy couples on social media will be separated, too. After all, we all die sometime. I’m cynical. I’m pissed off, tortured. I wonder if I’ll ever be happy again.

I want to shout at everyone, Don’t you know what next Tuesday is?!!!

Time off

I’m taking the day of Todd’s death off from work. I need more than one day, but the official coroner’s date is all I can manage with my professional responsibilities. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to get through the demands of next week; I’m afraid my job will suffer, my supervisors expecting me to perform as if life was normal. Hell, I’m afraid I won’t be able to get out of bed come Tuesday.

I have hit a wall at this one year mark that I can’t scale on my own. 

It might be time I find a grief counselor. 


Sue Leathers is an English teacher and mother. She had a huge crush on her husband Todd Kleffman, a journalist, when she was in high school, and she'd save his columns and stories. Decades later, she and Todd found each other through Facebook. He was the love of her life, her high school crush, and she was his biggest fan. She lost Todd in October 2017 to a heart attack. She has found solace in Hope for Widows and in writing of her own journey, and hopes to help other widows by sharing her experiences here.

Sue can be found on Instagram: @susanjanie