It was recently suggested to me that perhaps I needed to forgive Gary for dying. I was incredulous. Of course I didn’t blame him for dying! “Can you tell him you forgive him?” I was asked. Of course I can!!! How ridiculous!! ….But then, I truly couldn’t get the words to come out of my mouth. I literally felt like some unknown force was squeezing my heart, not allowing me to speak what I was now all too aware, would have been a lie. And so, I have set about the task of finally forgiving him.

It’s been nearly twelve years. I tell people there were no warning signs. But really, in hind sight there were. We just didn’t understand that they were warning signs. No one thinks their healthy 42 year old husband will die peacefully in his sleep. Even if he was having weird bilateral elbow pains. Even is he is a smoker.

There it is. The forgiveness I need to give. The filthy, disgusting habit I used to swear would never be a part of my life. But the truth is, I don’t think we always have control over who we love. I’m a believer in fate, and destiny, and there is no doubt in my mind, we were destined to be together, cigarettes and all. We didn’t argue all that much. When we did, it was about money, or his smoking habit. His insistence that “it’s not about you,” only infuriated me more. I told him it was selfish, and, God help me, even said that I didn’t want to be a forty something widow with kids to raise on my own because he wouldn’t give it up. He did quit. Many times. He always went back.

I had finally made my peace with it, ironically the same summer he died. He had an addictive personality. He would stay up most of the night playing a new video game. Would work on a project constantly until it was finished and perfected. There was a smidge of OCD thrown in there as well. I told myself there were far worse things he could be addicted to, and anyway, he could be hit by a bus tomorrow. I decided it wasn’t worth the fights anymore. A few months later, he was gone.
We don’t have conclusive evidence that it was the smoking that killed him. His love of cheese also played a factor. Lots of people who smoke much more than he did do not die in their sleep at a young age. But chances are, had his lungs been pink and healthy, he may be alive today.

He was smart. My God, he was so smart. He knew the science. He just thought he was invincible, and thought he had time to quit later. Why do people – men especially – believe they are invincible? Is is because he was the Superman of our family? It seemed there was nothing he couldn’t do. Except grow old, apparently. And so, I did become the forty something widow, left to raise 3 children alone. I know that was never part of his plan. Would he have quit, had he known the real life consequences to come? I believe he would have. There was nothing he would not have done for me and the kids. This is the man who searched our entire yard by flashlight to find one LEGO head piece to calm his heartbroken son. And he succeeded. There was nothing he couldn’t do.

Which is part of the reason I struggle to forgive him. I know he could have quit for good. He chose not to. There lies the gnawing anger of the past 11+ years. He left us. He left ME. The one thing he promised he would never do. I so wish he had the gift of hind sight. I know he would never choose this for us. He was our world, and we were his. He was a man whose greatest joy was being a husband and father. I know he loved us beyond reason, and spent his shortened life trying to make us happy. And so, I do forgive him. I will never stop wishing he would have been able to stay. He already missed so many milestones, heart aches, and holidays. In many ways I am the lucky one. Allowed to be physically present at all of the games, concerts, graduations, holidays, and every days. I believe he is indeed there with us as well. Silently beaming at us from behind the veil.

I forgive you, Gary.


Have you heard about Hope for Widows Foundation’s annual virtual Widows of Hope 5K on May 15 and 16? Registration is now open! For details, FAQ’s and to register/support go to: Anyone can join! Whether you are a widow, widower, or a friend/family member showing support, or walking in the loss of another family member, everyone is welcomed to participate. The deadline to register is May 15, 2021. The proceeds will directly support widows directly through their annual financial Restoring Hope and Peace Grants, Sunshine Boxes program, and our Bring Hope Holiday Assistance Program.





Lisa Boone Bogacki is a solo mom of three, a physical therapist, canine and equine massage therapist, widow, daughter, sister, and friend. She was blessed with 17 years spent with her very own Prince Charming, only to have her healthy, active husband die in his sleep 3 days after their 16th wedding anniversary. That was eleven years ago, and she shares it still seems very surreal. There is no “What to Expect When Your 42-Year-Old Husband Dies in His Sleep” manual, but hopefully through the magic of the internet, she hopes we can all support and help each other.