I remember September 11, 2003 pretty vividly. I had gotten into a massive fight with my sister and had called Dan just to talk. We both lived in different cities by this point as he had moved in with my mother just a few months before to help her out as she was physically disabled. He gave me a rare, “I love you” before we hung up.
The next day I found out about John Ritter passing away and thought I should call Dan to talk about it but figured no, he was coming down the next day to surprise Jeremiah for his 11th birthday so I’d wait.
I should have called.
The next morning my mother called and told us Dan had passed away from a massive fatal heart attack and she’d found him on the floor when she got up that morning.
To say I was devastated is an understatement. Despite all his ailments and his physical and mental limitations, I truly still felt he was my hero – destined never to die. His dying at 43 was inconceivable to me. It tossed me into an emotional blender.
First, I had to say goodbye to someone I had loved for half of my life… and I don’t say goodbye well. Especially the final kind that come with death. Second, it scared the hell out of me that life could be so short. It never dawned on me I could die before I had done all the things I wanted to do.
Suddenly every bite I took felt like a game of Russian Roulette. I was about 330lbs at this point and knew that the longer I stayed fat the stronger probability I’d die sooner. So I dove head first – for the first time in my life – into doing something productive with myself to deal with an emotional crisis.
Steven, however, would take a different route. Although I didn’t know it at the time.
Months went by and I would remain dedicated to this singular goal of getting my health in order before it was too late. I was walking twice a day, I was watching my calories, I was doing Pilates – anything it took to get the weight off before it suffocated me to death. By February I had lost probably 40 pounds or so and I was feeling pretty confident about myself.
The rug was about to be pulled out from under me again.
Steven at the time had a friend from work, a girl, whom he was supposed to go help move. I tried not to think anything of it, but something didn’t feel right to me. He finally decided against going and that was that until I found an email that he had written to her months after the fact asking her to give him a call at his work number.
So I called him and asked what that was about and if there was anything I needed to know. He of course played it cool and said no.
So I dug a little deeper and found an old email that he had written to her that went into detail what would happen when she finally “got her chance” to be with him.
I was destroyed.
We were only a few years into our marriage at this point and I had always believed he would never ever cheat on me because of how he felt when he found his first love in bed with his best friend.
To say this came out of left field is putting it mildly.
Given my past, I can’t say that wasn’t completely undeserved. So after a lot of crying and yelling, and his endless promises how it would never happen again, I decided to stay in the relationship, even though my heart was decidedly less invested.
Which primed me to find another hero.
In November of that year, I did.