Isn’t it interesting in life how seemingly insignificant things can hold such profound meaning and life lessons? How memories can be created by touching something? How those memories can be forgotten or downplayed? Then one day, they are again stirred back up by touching that otherwise meaningless thing?

This jolly, very plastic jack-o-lantern was a proud find for Mike. He saw it as a festive, fun illumination for our yard. (Do you have something equivalent around your home that your husband brought home? I bet you do!) I assure you, it brought delight to both him and our children equally. After all, he was a big kid! 

I saw it a little differently then when he showed up with it all those years ago. It’s going to make me sound like a killjoy but I’ll risk it here. The day he came home with that pumpkin under his arm, cord dangling behind him, I saw it as unnecessary and slightly tacky. There, I admit it! Oh and did I mention it’s quite large? At the time we lived the 5 of us in a 1940s home under 1000SF. I couldn’t even begin to wrap my mind around where I would store it the other 11 months that it wasn’t welcoming all who passed by our home!

All this to say, as much as I did not adore it, it is also something that I have carefully moved three times over. I have replaced this pumpkin’s lightbulb more times that I can count. And on my own accord, without prompting from my children, I have proudly placed it in my front lawn and plugged it in each evening in October, respectfully.

Why? Because that’s what we do – for ourselves, for our kids, for our husband we’ve lost.

We hold onto the things they once loved.

Any way we can, we sprinkle them in – and throughout – our lives.

We embrace and protect little touches of him.

Things that once annoyed us or we objected to, we now look at and embrace endearingly. Maybe we still cuss under our breath or laugh a little to ourselves when we come across those things. Yet now, they hold a a sort of reverent space in our hearts.

That is why, for me, hearing wives complain about their husband’s dirty clothes on the floor or childish hobby, stings a little. I remember those days of annoyance.

I also now have a memory of picking those same dirty clothes up off the floor and carefully tucking them into a plastic bag to keep whatever of him was left on them. Those same clothes on the floor that had once annoyed me I suddenly met with gratitude to have one more thing that smelled like him.

That’s what death and loss teach us.

Openness: To allow light – wherever it comes from – in.

Freedom: To let go of silliness and focus on significance.

Perspective: To acknowledge that sometimes, the importance of something lies deeper than the plastic, bright, tackiness that is only apparent to everyone else.


In May of 2013, after nearly 9 years of marriage and at the age of 32, Krystal received news that would forever change the life of her and her children. Her husband, exactly 2 weeks after his 33rd birthday, was killed in a tragic car accident when a pipe went through his windshield, killing him instantly. It was in those early weeks after his death that God laid on her heart to move forward in hope. It has been that mantra that has propelled Krystal and her children forward, working through their trauma and grief, embracing this new season of their lives with hope, love and a sense of adventure. After moving across the country in search of living their best life in the wake of such loss, Krystal and her children began fulfilling a dream she had always had to travel and serve others alongside her children. This began a love relationship for Krystal and her children with the country and people of Haiti.

Krystal currently resides in Nashville, TN with her three children and rescue pup, Owen. She is a Certified Life Coach for Widows encouraging other widows to embrace widowhood with hope and a sense of adventure. You can find more about Krystal and A Hope Fueled Life on Facebook and Instagram @ahopefueledlife.