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Death & Addiction: She Forgave Me

Updated: Oct 2, 2022

Q&A with a 40 year old married man that almost lost it all.

How did you meet your wife? I married my high school sweetheart but unfortunately she passed away from leukemia at 22 years old. I was saddened by her loss, yet I had great support around me encouraging me to not give up on finding love again. I never would have imagined that my future wife was nearby-- within my extended friend circle. We had 9 mutual friends, and probably crossed paths several times through social gatherings but somehow I never noticed her.

It took me 5 years to get back to dating, after my 1st wife departed. I was then 27 years old. A friend invited me to a party and that was when I first saw "Cynthia." My reputation was Mr. Cool, always talkative, popular in my High School days (Homecoming King twice!) but I did not have the courage to go up to her. Thus, days after the party I regretted not introducing myself and was then determined to find her.

“Thus, days after the party I regretted not introducing myself and was then determined to find her...”

I started asking around and begged a friend to give me Cynthia's phone number. I was really excited when we finally spoke. Ironically she didn't notice me at the gathering but remembered me from High School. "Are you that big-headed, arrogant guy that thinks he's all that? I probably wouldn't have given you a chance back then." she jokingly said. Cynthia's mind and confidence instantly drew me in. She was getting her Masters in International Business, on a full scholarship, and was given the opportunity to study abroad in Amsterdam. She had big academic goals and didn't seem interested in starting a relationship. I was content with just being friends, I was living in Northern California-- and understood her focus was her studies; so we only kept in touch through the phone. I was starting to go to church more often and we found a connection by sharing our faith with each other (her parents were Pastors). How long did it take until you met in person? She challenged me to a 1 month period of 'getting to know each other' through only phone conversations; even though we only lived 2 hours away from each other and could have easily met-up in person. Every night I spoke to her and looked forward to our scheduled calls and hearing her voice. I remember being on the phone from 9pm to 2am! Finally, after a month, she agreed to meet for coffee and a bagel. There were immediate sparks at 1st sight. I even remember what she was wearing. While getting to know her, her personal drive is what I found extremely attractive. So seeing her again in person, I found her natural beauty as the cherry on top. From that date on, we were inseparable.

How long did you date before deciding to get married? I knew how important her goals were and didn't want to stand in her way to achieve them. As a couple, we discussed the possibility of dating long-distance, as she was considering a full-ride scholarship to NY for a Doctorate program. We were officially together for 10 months, and she said she wanted to get married... so we did! 5 months after getting married, Cynthia was pregnant with our 1st child. And then the next year, our 2nd child! Luckily, she was so valued in her work that she found a prestigious job and decided to put a hold on her studies. How many years have you been married and what's your secret to a long, healthy relationship?

Oh, my! 15 years married. Speaking from my experience, our secret: No God, no relationship. Our shared faith has helped us withstand and navigate challenges together. God has given us the strength and understanding to honor our commitment to each other. I will admit that I'm not perfect and have fallen short in the past, but we give each other grace-- because of our beliefs in God's purpose and ability to forgive.

How did you overcome challenges in your relationship?

There was a time when I was struggling with my faith. In my pride and selfishness, I was overindulging in alcohol and not being present with my family. My wife could have easily given-up on me, my behavior, my addiction, and ultimately my inability to express myself. I grew up in a culture of machismo, where men who express their emotions are often seen as weak. My patient and compassionate wife realized I needed help and insisted I 'talk to someone.'

Through therapy I saw that I was suppressing my feelings and hiding deep pain from the past. It was when my therapist asked "Did you ever get to grieve?" that I realized that I never emotionally dealt with the death of my 1st wife. I played the tough-guy through my 20's and into my early 30's, accepting life as it is, while neglecting to show my emotions. It was like being held in a tight cocoon and I was emotionally immature. I was numbing myself with extreme fitness, drinking, work-- without accepting that I had issues. And once I understood the root of my pain, I felt free.

“My wife stood by me through it all. She had the faith to believe in me and our marriage.”

What advice do you have if someone experiences loss of a loved one? One thing, 'feel the pain' because the pain makes you grow. Acknowledge it, don't run away from it. Perseverance develops good character.

And by the way, therapy does help.

“...And by the way, therapy does help.”

Guest Profile Harry E. Pacheco is a Children's book author. He put his first love of music to pursue his new found talent writing stories for kids. He finds it important to share the message of acceptance, regardless of race, appearance, gender, religion, culture and even personality quirks.

Instagram: @harryepacheco

Author Website:


Blog Photo Credits: & (Creative Commons). Contributors Disclaimer: Submissions are memoir. It reflects the author/guests present recollections of experiences over time. Some names and characteristics have been changed, some events have been compressed, and some dialogue has been recreated. Personal stories are not intended to hurt others-- the intention of this blog is to inspire and entertain.

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