If you’ve ever given up sweets for a while, you know how satisfying three M & M’s or a single Hershey’s Kiss can be. Or maybe you’ve stopped drinking pop, and when you finally try one again, a few swallows are all you need to elicit an “Ahhhhh” and a shiver. This is my relationship with joy right now. The moments are small, but oh, do they feel good. 

I’d been wondering if I’d ever feel anything positive again. For 18 months*, I’d been in neutral, felt numb, angry, bitter, sarcastic, pessimistic. Smiling and laughing had often been forced; I had been pretending to be normal, going through the motions. But, lately, I’ve spent nearly every afternoon in my backyard playing with my dogs, who don’t understand pretending, and I’ve found myself laughing out loud at their antics. A real laugh! 

Those small moments are pure joy. And, let me tell you, it feels amazing.

I still miss Todd. I still have his slippers in my bedroom closet, and at some point in every day, I recall the night he died. 

But, joy has started slipping in through the cracks of my broken heart.

In addition to being able to laugh again, I’ve begun to embrace his presence in me instead of only grieving his absence. For instance, instead of grieving the idea that I will never hear him say “tacos” again, I can say the word aloud, imitating his pronunciation, with a smile in my kitchen as I warm up tortillas. 

I can smile again, I can laugh again, and that, dear friend, is a miracle.



*I wrote this in early summer 2019. It’s sort of like documenting a child’s first steps; laughing at my dogs was my first real laugh since Todd died. Amazing!


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