Paula Wychopen, a seeker of beauty in the everyday, is a writer, mother, widow, and former caregiver for her chronically ill husband, Forrest. The eighteen years she cared for her husband at home were the most difficult and blessed years of her life. Their four children are her most treasured gifts, and she writes to leave a legacy for her children and grandchildren.
The ones who found their love when they were just children, and married young, before they really knew who they were. She who gave her youth, her strength, her innocence, her gifts, and invested them in her man, her children, her family. She who gave decades of her time and resources willingly, happily. She who does not regret one single moment of the life she chose.
The ones who endured all the Mr. Wrongs that came before, who patiently, and sometimes not so patiently, waited for Mr. Right. She who held out hope, invested in herself, who worked hard, and became her own savior. She who learned to depend on herself and knew she could make it on her own. But when Mr. Right finally crossed her path, she fell hard, joyfully embracing interdependence. Learning how wonderful it was to be cared for by a good man.
The ones who never expected to find love. Who thought love had passed them by one too many times. Who often asked, “What’s wrong with me?” She who learned to be alone, to find fulfillment in work, in service, in family, and loving others. She who was more surprised than anyone when he walked into her life, and she discovered there was nothing wrong with her. She was perfect, just as she was. And he celebrated that each day of their life together.
The ones who loved a wounded heart, a tortured soul, a troubled mind, a broken body. Who battled every day for the one she loved. Who believed in healing, in overcoming, in the invincible power of love. She who kept the faith when he couldn’t, who held on to shreds of hope, who had patience in the trenches of suffering, and loved even when it wasn’t easy or beautiful. She who prayed for light in the darkness.
The ones who dreamed of forever. She who planned for a lifetime but had to say goodbye before their life had hardly begun.
The ones who were left to raise children on their own. She who held her young children as they wept and called out for their daddy in the night. She who moved mountains to find her children the help they needed, who never gave up, who found ways to be both mother and father. She who listened as her children screamed, “Its not fair!” and, “I wish YOU had died, not him!” And still, she embraced them and wiped away their tears. And cried with them.
The ones who never got to be mamas. She who grieved the loss of motherhood while grieving her husband. She who’s arms ache for the baby she never got to hold. The life she never got to live.
The ones who have found themselves widowed and alone in their last years of life. She who has no idea how she will care for herself as her body and mind fail. She who is lonely, and feels abandoned and forgotten, and wishes she had gone first.
The ones who are rediscovering themselves. Reimagining their lives. Picking up the pieces of their broken dreams and building something new. She who has learned to dream again, who believes there will be a better tomorrow, who remarkably makes her way through the day, and wakes again in the morning with just a little bit of hope. She who borrows strength when she has none and freely offers a hand of comfort where she can.
The ones who have risen as a Phoenix from the ashes, rebirthed, transformed, renewed. Strong, confident, bold.
The ones who aren’t sure they will survive. But somehow, they do. Who carry their love like a burning ember within.
The ones who take over their husband’s businesses, start charities and foundations, who run marathons, climb mountains, travel the world, write a book, begin to paint, and dance with abandon.
The ones who find love again and dare to risk the pain of loss once more.
The ones who choose solitude and peace.
The ones who choose to live.
You are the Widow Warriors.