Every morning, I would kiss my husband, Terry, good-bye before heading to work. Our kiss was the cue for my two children, Maree and Jake, to collect their school lunches off the kitchen bench and race out to the car. But this particular morning, my kids were at home sick and my husband was running late.

“What about your kiss?” I called after Terry.

Pausing for a moment my husband turned, blew me a kiss, and disappeared out the door.

That was the last time I saw him.

The knock at the door every wife dreads

Later that morning, my doorbell rang. With my fingers caked in cookie dough, I asked my five-year-old daughter, Maree, to open the front door. Two policemen stood in front of us. Marlee took a step back. My stomach turned.

After insisting I take a seat inside, the taller of the two police officers informed me Terry Western, my husband, had died in a motor vehicle accident forty minutes earlier.

At that moment my world, as I knew it, collapsed.

The first six months after Terry’s death was a total blur. Fortunately for me, friends and family filled in the gaps and kept the household routine going for my two kids.

Grief-stricken, I slid into a deep depression. Nothing or no one could console me. My life was grey, flat and monotone. I was living, seeing and hearing life from inside a glass box.

Validation from my husband in heaven

On the morning of the first anniversary of my husband’s passing, my five-year-old daughter, Maree, was spinning like a ballerina in the garden. Terry loved watching her do that.

Stopping, Maree wobbled to catch her balance before giggling with delight.  Five bright orange monarch butterflies were dancing in the air in front of her. Looking up toward the kitchen window at me, she ran toward the house.

“Mommy,” she said, bursting through the kitchen doorway. “You don’t have to be sad anymore. Daddy is going to send butterfly kisses to you too.”

Faith shone in my daughter’s eyes. Yes, her daddy was dead, but his memory was ever-present validating the love he left for her.

Unlike my daughter, my focus had been on all that I’d lost. Namely, the loving husband I could never hold or kiss again. And nothing could change that. Meanwhile, I was ignoring the mountain of love he’d left in my heart. At that moment, light broke through the darkness of my grief like a new day.