“No man (or woman) steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and (s)he’s not the same (wo)man.”–Heraclitus

I live near the Green River, drive across it a few times a day, walk next to it at the park, so I think about this quote quite often. I think about how I’ve changed since Todd died. 

A few days ago, on our way to pick up our groceries, I asked my daughter if she thought I’d changed. She said, no, not really. I agreed because I feel like these four years have sort of burnished me, made me more essentially me. I think of the scene in The Terminator, when the cyborg walks through fire and emerges, all metal and power–I feel like that…only not evil. I’ve left behind pretense behind because it no longer holds value for me. I really don’t care what other people think anymore because life is too short to kowtow to society’s norms.

About as often as I think of the river quote, I think about how I’m sure Todd would love this version of me. I don’t have any doubt about it. It’s funny that I’m also sure that if we had met earlier in our lives, we wouldn’t have liked each other at all. We were different people at 20 and 30 than we were much later in life. Time mellowed us out, so we could complement each other by the time we did meet.

In that same conversation with my daughter, we thought of mutual friends who had recently lost loved ones and reflected on how they’ve changed, too. It’s odd how everyone’s life is marked by death, and those deaths can change all of us in obvious and also in private ways. 

The river keeps moving, and we keep changing. Would I rather have set up camp on the side of the river with Todd forever? 100%. But, I’m nonetheless proud of who I am now, and I know Todd would be proud of me, too.

Maybe I’ve not so much as walked through a fire like a cyborg as I have been wading in the river.



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