By Kenneth Stepp
We were married 24 years, raised kids, bought houses, and it seemed like it would never end. I remember the night well. “Why don’t you just leave then”… Thursday, January 3rd 2013 was an awful morning for me and for my family. The dogs barking woke me up. I ironed my kids clothes like I did every morning, I then packed up, and left what was the only place that had ever felt like home to me.
Trying to find myself and knowing being alone was not what I was created for, I joined a dating app. I fell in love with the first girl I met. I’ve heard this happens often. One day you are hurt, lost, very confused and alone. The next day someone acts as if you are their world. They admire you and respect you. They desire you too. It’s intoxicating in so many ways.
After the first one ended I dated around, met some great girls and struggled to find myself. Depression and anxiety were close friends by then. The excitement of someone new and the disappointment of the inevitable breakup that follows. These added to the roller coaster that had become my life.
Serious relationships come and go but nothing like the life I once shared with my wife and kids. What seems like magic at first feels more like a cardboard cutout life compared to the vivid life I once had. The years ticked by one by one. Time means so much but the time I spend has little value. Life became a conundrum.
Despair and hopelessness were my roommates. I spent most of my time alone in a quiet house trying to make sense of my life. The moments where my mind said, “what have I done” seemed to be constant then. Deafening at times really. I want therefore I do. That was my life.
One day it happened. Be it the universe smiling on me or God’s kindness. I met her. She was amazing and she was the permanent type. She loved me and I loved her. We made a home together, a wedding, many adventures, many laughs, and so many slow dances in the living room and kitchen. Life was amazing again.
One day she became ill. I took her to the hospital and I would never see her again. Life can be cruel. Love can be cruel. People lose people. That’s the truth about life. She said she’d stay with me the rest of her life and she did. I’m grateful to have known her and loved her. Everyone loved her and for good reason.
My life spiraled after that. Mornings were the worst. Not sure why but they were. The days went by so fast. Weeks were like minutes and months went by like traffic on the freeway. I woke up to the same reality every single day. I lived with these two words, if only.
In about 8 weeks it will be two years since I lost her. Today every day is different and the confusion is still my constant friend. But life is different. I feel like the last two years have been a dream that I have begun to wake up from. My, “to be or not to be” existence has given way to living again. Life has a way of changing who we thought we’d be.
Our purpose changes too. I believe purpose should involve others. And helping others should be a big part of that purpose, but improving our own lives should be too. I have made deeper friends in the last two years that I thought possible. And I am preparing my life and finances for what I believe will be a terrible crash of the US economy. Having goals help us focus outside of ourselves.
Being active for others and proactive for myself seem to be the themes I live by now. I once wrote this quote about parenting, “Parenting is one part protecting and two parts preparing”. I now believe that this formula isn’t just about parenting, it’s about living too.
Since there will always be another dream and in kind, another awakening. My advice to everyone is to live on the edge of your comfort zone and if you love again, love recklessly. Stop looking at what could go wrong and work toward what could go right…