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We Are Alive

Is it ok to write about this? I’m asking myself that question — almost afraid to ask anyone else for fear their shock might escape. And I would hear their shush that this should be private. Because it is so unspeakable.

Is it ok to write about it? And expose such a gaping but multi-layered wound to the world’s scrutiny? My husband is dead. One week ago he ended his life. He chose to leave this world. And our three children. And me. And any hope of our family. Now I’m facing his choice after so many years of living and loving and moving and working and creating and answering and questioning and accepting and raging with him in this struggle. A struggle that made me hate him. And love him. And pressure him. And comfort him. Years of relearning and protecting and coping. Of being so proud of his effort. And so frustrated by his continued battle. At times with laughter and hope and the stretching of our faith. At times with silence and disappointment and stubbornness. All in a sea of thinking and thinking. So much thinking. Now his struggle is done. And mine is born again with a much larger and more daunting face.

Even as I write these things, I know it’s so much more complicated than what I can articulate. What I already recognize I’ll never know is so very much more complicated than anything I can say in these early moments. I’ve always used writing as a window to help me fling open the realities in my own soul. So that I could look at them. In some sort of logical way and glean some kind of larger truth or pattern. Now, in these days of realities that seem to defy any logic, I wonder. Am I able to write them? Do I have the courage to turn the screw in what I know will unplug a whole well of thoughts and emotions and realities and maybe truths? Can I give myself permission to embrace stigma and shame and sorrow to write these stories? I don’t know beyond today, but I do know one thing.

Our healing begins with this: We are alive. WE ARE ALIVE. And each day that we choose this precious life we’ve been given is a victory. Simply choosing to experience this life in whatever painful or joyous or even unspeakable way it presents itself may be the only victory I experience today. Just waking up and choosing to move may be my day’s only victory. But, I’ll take it. I’LL TAKE IT. And use it as fuel to claim the next one. Until that which I know without question is true replaces the doubts. Until I conquer each demon that dominates my thinking. Until I peel away each and every layer of all these complicated emotions. Until I see them surpassed with new joy and new hope and new living. Until the very best I know of this kind and gentle man called Mike rises to the surface to live in our memories. Until we laugh and run and leap and shout and sing. Until I KNOW. And believe. And embrace this one profound fact: WE ARE ALIVE.


  1. Hailey: You have my admiration, love, support, and anything you need. You have turned your great pain into a beautiful expression of hope for us all. Thank you.

  2. We only walked through a small part of this journey with you and Mike years ago, but we’ve thought about, and prayed for, you personally and corporately this past week.

  3. Not only is it okay to write about this, I believe it is absolutely necessary. From pain, understanding. From understanding, compassion. From compassion, joy. Meaningful joy.

  4. Haley, you are one of the bravest people that I know. It takes such a huge amount of courage to put your “stuff” out there at the best of times, much less at the lowest. Hang in there, sister! There are more people than you know who love you and are for you. I, for one, am glad that you are alive. Love you! Let me know if there’s anything I can do.

  5. In all the years of you … I have understood that you “constant” is your FAITH … you are pure in that … you will find your way & the truth & the beauty in the lost … you are amazing … & you will always have my love!

  6. Haley, I haven’t stopped thinking of you & the kids, praying in that way we do when we don’t really articulate, just kind of send our pain, empathy, confusion heavenward. Groanings that can’t be uttered. I’m glad you are uttering here. Speaking of this greatest pain, this deep deep hurt, all the emotions and accusations and turmoil it brings, this is letting in light. LIGHT. Less darkness.
    I stand with you in your hope. There is hope. There is life. There is more ahead for you, for your sweet babies. I wish I had a way to whisk you ahead. I know you have a Source of strength as you take each step. Just wish I could take some of them for you.
    After Mom died, there were months for me where I could only picture her face as it was at the end. Not HER, not her sweet smiling face, but instead this sick, stricken, old woman’s face. I didn’t want those images and memories and last emotions to be all I had left of her, and I was so afraid, for months, that they would be. I couldn’t seem to get past them, they all bubbled to the surface when I tried to plunge back further, for the sweet memories. But this has changed. It just happened, in time. Death is always dark, no matter how it comes, whether it is a cancer in the body or a cancer that eats at the soul. It takes time, I think, to get past the immediate, suffocating darkness of it and be able to rejoice in the life that was before.

    Much love to you.

  7. Haley, I am so glad that you love to write. It is good for you and I am glad you are doing it so that we can read it too. Thank you for sharing with your friends so we know how to pray for you and the children…. You have always trusted in God and He will be with you through this with you and YOU and the KIDS are ALIVE and WELL and will SURVIVE… and you KEEP WRITING

  8. Just learned about Mike today. So very sorry. But so thankful for the way you are working THROUGH it. Your words are absolutely beautiful even though I’m sure the pain is devastating. Please add me to the multitude that are already praying for you and your beautiful children.

  9. Haley –
    I hate that I’m only just reading this. I’m not really sure how I missed it 2 years ago!
    Having walked thru a similar-yet-different situation, I agree with those above…not only is it okay to write about it, I would encourage MORE to write about such tragedy. People view death as a taboo subject, with abnormal death even MORE taboo. Death comes to us all. The way we get through it is with time and support. God’s support, family support, support of friends.
    I was able to get to know Mike before he died. Not as you knew him, but a glimpse into his struggle. As one who was just recently set on the path up and out of the valley, I could commiserate with his journey…

    I know you miss him. I miss Julie every single day. I still pick up my phone to call her sometimes, before remembering that she doesn’t have a phone anymore. Grief never leaves. Once you have been introduced, it becomes part of you. You weave the rest of your life through it, your body adapts to the intruder, and you go on. When someone leaves, especially in this particular way, a rending occurs. As time passes and God works, the wound edges heal and the pain subsides slightly. The hole, whatever size it may be (mine is Julie-shaped) stays. You feed that hole with emotions and memories. As time goes on, it becomes a haven where you go to remember. It’s a “Ohana Hole.” And as Lilo says “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.”
    May God pour out an extra measure of grace and love on you and your kids! Love you!

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