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.’”
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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!’”
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.”