I am no longer new at this “new normal” thing. I’ve been a widow for over a dozen years now. There have been so many life stages experienced, raising 3 kids during these years. When Gary died, the kids were 13, 10, and 3 years old. Fast forward to now 26, 23, and 16. Our little wounded family unit navigated through countless concerts, lessons, games, practices, college searches, and graduations. I tried hard to make things as “normal” as possible for them. We kept up many family traditions, and created new ones. Of course I have lived a different life than I would have, had Gary lived. I am thankful to live during the time of Google, YouTube, and GPS. Without these technologies, I would not feel comfortable going to all the new places we’ve seen, and definitely would not be able to fix even the most insignificant of broken things in the house. 

There are so many things I’m not sure  would have happened if my old life had continued. I’ve tried to take at least annual trips to NYC for a long time now. I think it may be at least part of the reason 2 of the kids currently live in major world cities. They were raised in our very small town suburbia, yet were drawn to city life when it was time for college. Offspring #3 is still yet to be seen, if he continues the tradition. Their father was not a fan of big cities, even for visits. He humored me when we were discussing where we would settle, as I lived just outside the big city, and he in suburbia. He said he would move to me if I wanted. I don’t doubt he would have. But he would not have liked it, and I wanted to raise a family in suburbia too. So in that other universe I often still long for, where he is still physically present, I doubt the annual family NYC trips would have happened. 

Then there is my professional life. Weird to think it is likely significantly different than it might have been, since my career had little to do with our life, other than the need for 2 incomes. Then 4 years ago, on almost a whim, I decided to embrace the “go after your dreams” mantra, and spent a week away from the kids getting a brand new, very different certification than any previous work I’d done. Since that time, I’ve added credentials, expanded my focus, and created my very own LLC business. I have never, EVER been career focused. I am very type B, and have never had any interest in climbing any corporate ladders. I have always worked to pay the bills. So I am nearly certain I would not be owning my own business in that still missed alternate reality. It’s likely I would be happily “retired,” but that’s a story for another post. 

I’m so incredibly proud of all of the things my kids and I have accomplished, despite our trauma. Yet it is never without the thoughts of “what would he think of it?” Being proud and happy with things in Life now that I know would not exist if he were alive comes with twinges of guilt. My God, I could never be happy, or proud that he is gone. And if a miracle happened and I had a chance to have him back, I would move heaven and earth to make it so. But I’m different. My life is different. I would miss portions of this life if they were gone. I wonder how our lives would be different if I were the person I am now, while he was here. I know the love would remain. Of course there are no answers to these questions. For now, I like to picture him looking at his beloved family approvingly as we continue our adventures. 


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.