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This November, Barb-505508 is giving thanks – which is a sign of just how far she’s come.

In the span of 28 months, Barb lost her son and her husband. Daniel, her firstborn, died of a massive brain aneurysm at age 26. He fell into a coma while teaching a spinning class at Bally Total Fitness. Then a blood clot took Barb’s husband, Steve, stopping his heart.

Suddenly, the light in her life was gone. The husband who had danced with her in the living room for no reason at all, whether or not music was playing (“We could hear the beat,” she said), who had spent countless nights singing his entire lullaby repertoire to crying babies (“He loved every minute of it”). The son who had refused to let asthma conquer him, competing in bike races and setting new goals. “He radiated light wherever he went.”

Not only was Barb’s life suddenly much darker, it was quieter. She couldn’t stand to listen to the music that had been the soundtrack of her joyful family life.

“Before Steve and Daniel died I enjoyed all kinds of music,” she said. Her all-time favorite singer was John Denver, who had become a star just when she began dating Steve.

“I loved his songs because a lot of them were centered on being a ‘country boy,’ which my husband was,” Barb said. So many of his themes echoed Steve’s life. But Barb’s most cherished tune, hands down, was Annie’s Song.

“It’s true, you know,” she said. “There are rockets and fireworks when you fall in life. Just as in Annie’s Song, my husband was the ‘night in a forest.’ He did ‘fill up my senses.’”


An online outlet

Years passed, and the widow from Sheboygan, Wis., tried to keep busy with work, volunteering and grandchildren, battling a sense of loneliness and the sound of silence. In 2009, right before Thanksgiving, she joined CatholicMatch.

Barb didn’t experience an immediate transformation. But just a month ago she began chatting with Terrance-629976 from Holmen, Wis. First they talked about fishing, then she noticed he had listed John Denver in his profile – a name she had left out of hers. Turns out, Terrance had been to 13 of his concerts. She was amazed that anyone could be a bigger fan than she had been.

Suddenly John Denver lyrics started coming back to Barb, especially a line that says, “thinking about the good times, thinking about the pain.”

“I think that adequately describes how my metamorphosis began,” said Barb, who is now 52. “I had to think through the pain to get back to the good memories.”

She and Terry, who was just an acquaintance, began talking about Denver in greater detail. “I think the turning point was remembering the pure energy John Denver radiated.”

Finally Barb couldn’t resist and she played John Denver on her Bose home theater system, beginning – of course – with Annie’s Song.

“I began to shout, ‘Yes, yes, yes! I have my music back!’”


Hope floats

The music hasn’t stopped.

“Over and over and over,” she said. “I will never get tired of it. I lost hope many years ago and have spent much time and effort trying to regain it. I came to CatholicMatch for companionship and I’ve receive this very precious gift. There is no doubt in my mind that it is the Holy Spirit himself who has rescued me.”

Barb delights in the many friendships she’s forged on CatholicMatch. “I’ve met people from all over the world, and they have the most amazing stories,” she said. She even met a man who knew her husband. “Sometimes it’s fun just to chat with him about the hometown and, as John Denver says, ‘remember the good times.’”

The brave widow is approaching Thanksgiving with an open heart. “I’ll be saying a prayer of thanksgiving this year for the gift of two healthy sons, two beautiful daughters-in-law, sweet grandbabies, and the recent friendship of a very special CatholicMatch man in my life.”

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13 Comments

  1. John-555551 November 23, 2010

    Barb….it was touching to me to read your story! First of all the losses you encountered with losing both your son and husband in such a short time had to be so difficult. You are an amazing lady to be bouncing back and putting everything in perspective. Wow, that says a lot about you!

    But what also touched me was your love for John Denver! I’ve also been one of his greatest fans and have most of his CD’s. Also had all of his records way back! The messages and stories in his songs were so real! I’ve seen John Denver lots of times with one of his most memorable concerts being in the outdoor Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado! The sound was so fabulous as it always is at Red Rocks! Just listening to John Denver warm up gave me goose bumps! When his band would take a break John Denver stayed out on stage by himself singing more songs and never took a break!! It was John Denver that brought me to the Colorado mountains to see what they were like and shortly after I moved here from Aurora, Ill to experience what he talked about in his songs. I’ve never regretted it for one minute!

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful story! And, Happy Thanksgiving!

    John

  2. Dolores-586658 November 23, 2010

    AFTER THE FATHER OF MY CHILDREN DIED ON DEC 15 1971 I WAS SO SCARED. OUR 6TH CHILD, CHRISTOPHER DIED WHEN HE WAS 3 DAYS OLD. WHEN SOMEONE COMES INTO YOUR LIFE AND YOU KNOW IT WON;T WORK, IT WAS VERY DIFFICULT TO SAY “IT WON”T WORK. WHO WANTS TO MARRY SOMEONE WITH FIVE CHILDREN. MY BEST FRIEND
    MARILYN ASKED ME TO GO TO POST CANA. I WENT AND BEING 38 EVERYONE WAS OLD.
    SOME OF US WHO WERE YOUNGER STARTED A GROUP FOR THOSE UNDER 50.
    ONE EVENING GENE WAS PICKING ME UP TO GO TO A MEETING. HE HAD A MAN WITH HIM AND WE TALKED ALL THE WAY TO OUR DESTINATION. WE HAD SO MUCH IN COMMON. WE EACG HAD A SON TOM, DAUGHTER SHARON, I HAD A PATRICK HE A PATTY, HIS WIFE’S NAME WAS NANCY AND I HAD A DAUGHTER NANCY. HIS WIFE AN I HAD FATHER’S NAMED HOWARD. SO AFTER SIX WEEKS OF DATING, HE SAID WE WOULD HAVE TO GET MARRIED SO HE COULD GET SOME SLEEP. WE MARRIED AUG 4 1972.
    TOM LOST HIS ONLY SON IN A FIRE. HIS DAUGHTER SHARON DIED AFTER TOM HAD DIED
    DEC 13 1999 AND M Y SON PATRICK DIED JUNE 1,2000. I FEEL THAT MY FIRST HUSBAND PICKED TOM OUT FOR ME. HE WAS A MECHANIC FOR UNITED AIR LINES AND AS WE HAD 8 CHILDREN LIVING AT HOME….TOM WOULD TAKE ME TO ROME,, RUSSIA, HAWAII. MY
    MOTHER IN LAW WOULD COME AND STAY AND THE KIDS SAID THEY BABY SAT HER.
    MY DAUGHTER NANCY DIED THE DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING LAST YEAR AND SHE ALWAYS THOUGHT SHE WOULD DIE YOUNG AS SHE WAS A DIABETIC IN COLLEGE WHEN WE FOUND OUT, SHE DIED AT GEORGETOWN HOSPITAL OF CANCER. HER ONLY CHILD TARA HAD A BABY BOY AUSTIN ROBERT ON AUGUST 24, IT IS VERY HARD FOR HER WITH BOTH PARENTS DEAD BUT, HER STEP-FATHER ROBERT IS A WONDERFUL MAN AND WILL BE A GRANDFATHER TO AUSTIN.THE FAMILY WILL COME HERE FOR THANKSGIVING .
    MY SON TOM WILL BRING THE TURKEY, DRESSING, MARY ELLEN WILL BRING VEGGIES AND THE GRANDCHILDREN WILL BRING A DISH. I SUPPLY THE HOME, ROLLS,BUTTER AND LOVE. I AM VERY FORTUNATE TO HAVE A FAMILY WHO CARES ABOUT EACH OTHER.
    IT WILL BE BEDLAM BUT THAT IS WHAT FAMILIES I REALLY LIKE JOHN DENVER TOO.
    ALMOST HEAVEN, MY SWEET LADY AND ANNIE’S SONG. I WAS SO SHOCKED WHEN HE DIED IN A PLANE HE BUILT HIMSELF. GOD BLESS ALL WHO LOVE. .

  3. Andrea-610662 November 23, 2010

    It’s lovely to see Catholics giving testimonies, quite like the similar tradition of the Christian Church. We hold so many good things in common.

  4. Helen-617478 November 23, 2010

    Barb’s story is very inspiring especially to those who are experiencing pain of all sorts in life. Sure, God is there to help all those who seek HIM. I’m glad there is Catholic Match to help guide those who need it.

  5. Gerry-553695 November 24, 2010

    I really liked your journey from no hope to courage and now friendship. Thanks for your story. It gives other people inspirationl. God luck.

  6. Francesca-501883 November 24, 2010

    God bless you Barb, and all of your family. You are an inspiration to all of us. I am the mother of four grown sons, two wonderful loving daughters-in-law, and two adorable grandsons. They are the light of my life. I like you have been truly blessed, and thank God everyday for all of my blessings. May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by all of your loved ones. I will keep you, your family, and the man that you have met on this site in all of my prayers. I wish you love, health and happiness,

    Sincerely,
    Francesca

  7. Barb-505508 November 24, 2010

    Thank you so much to everyone who has responded to my story on this blog and also to everyone who has sent me messages or emotigrams wishing me well. I truly believe that we need to open ourselves up to God’s wishes. There is a line in the bible whereby Jesus tells a man “Go then, your faith has saved you”. Please believe me when I say that my faith has made all the difference in my life.

    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Barb

  8. Beata-318316 November 24, 2010

    Barb, thank you for sharing your story. It put me on the right track for Thanksgiving Holiday; we have so much to be thankful for. God gives us lots of Blessings, and often we are too busy to notice.Your story made me see how much I have, not in terms of material possessions, but in the numbers of friends and my family members. We all radiate love, and it is the best gift we can offer.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you, Barb, and to all CMers!

  9. Andrea-598518 November 24, 2010

    Thanks for sharing, Barb. It really helps keep things in perspective. Blessings to you. Andrea

  10. Rita-725830 July 8, 2011

    I love this story. She and I have a lot in common. I can now hear the music now. I have faith and confidence that God is opening another door to the best that is yet to be!

  11. Rita-725830 July 8, 2011

    I can relate to her. My dearest died suddenly and unexpectedly 10 years ago. It has been rough. I am so glad to be a member of CatholicMatch. We were so happily married and evenly yoked. My shock and grief was terrific. It was the worst timing, because 9-11 would happen only one month later. God has inspired to keep my faith that he will provide me with a wonderful match. This group is part of His answer to prayer. I am praying with expectation for a wonderful man to become my husband. Thank God for this helping hand.

  12. Janet-669813 July 14, 2011

    Barb, I did forget to tell you, I’m so very sorry for both of your losses!! God Bless You!!

    • Barb-505508 July 24, 2011

      Thank you so much Janet for the kind words. Tomorrow, July 24th marks the fifth anniversary of my husband’s death. I will mark the day by being a Eucharistic Minister and then stopping at the cemetery for a quick prayer on my to visit Steven’s parents.

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