Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Final Hours

My husband died on the morning of December 23, 2010. The following is my personal account of his final hours, the story I must write. Please be advised, these paragraphs are graphic, detailed, personal, and mine. Read with caution, respect, and care.

These words hold my very heart.


"I can't stop shaking," he said in a text message. "I can't stop shaking, and my sinus cavities ache."

"Bummer, love," I wrote back. I sat at a Starbucks table, scrambling to think clearly and finish a writing deadline. "Need me to come home?"

"No. Just wanted you to know. I think I'm sick."

I went back to my work, clicking away at my keyboard. I went home an hour later, I greeted my children, and I rounded the corner into the living room. There lay my husband, piled under blankets, shaking uncontrollably. Tremors. Rygers. Chills. Whatever they are. Violent is what they seemed.

He didn't have a fever. He had no runny nose, no cough. No nothing. Just these awful, horrible shakes.

His parents had just arrived into town from Chicago, and we were to meet them for dinner that night. Well, obviously we couldn't go. Or at least he couldn't go. Ever the party girl, I was not quick to give up the plan. Still, I called his parents to let them know we may need to amend it ever so slightly. I told his dad the plan, the symptoms, my mild concerns.

"You need to take him to the ER. I'll meet you there," his dad said. "I'm on my way."

Moments later, my mom arrived to watch over the boys, and as quickly as we could gather ourselves and mobilize his trembling body, we were in urgent care. Robb's dad met us there, and Robb explained his symptoms with great clarity. We waited for answers, but they gave us few. His vitals were fine. Pulse-Ox: fine. Heart rate: fine. Breath sounds: fine. A quick nose swab confirmed Influenza A, the only name for the dark cloud above us.

The doctor said, "Well, I'm sorry to tell you, your holidays won't be much fun. Robb, the worst of this will last about four days, and the whole virus takes 10-14 days to run its course. You won't die, but you'll feel like you're going to."

(Please read that sentence again. Because I've heard the words at least a million times.)

They sent us home with instructions and prescriptions. Robb lost his spleen in a sledding accident in high school, so he was at greater risk for complications. He was highly at risk, highly contagious, and to be highly quarrantined. Lock him in the bedroom, let nobody near him, and ride out the storm. He'll be better by 2011. Promise. If he has any trouble breathing, call 9-1-1. But really, he should be fine.

Is what they said.

His dad took him home while I went to the grocery store to fill the prescriptions and stock up on comfort foods for my sweet, sick love.

Influenza. The flu. Quarrantine. Isn't that so 1800's? Isn't there something they can do to get him better by Christmas?

I cried in the pharmacy department, amid the cold and flu meds. You see, I'm a party girl with big plans for a big holiday. Cancellations fell into place, plans fell to the floor, and my heart fell with disappointment. I suddenly came face to face with the heart of traditions. The meaning of Christmas runs deep and immovable, but it manifests in the traditions of a family. When you take those away... well, for better or worse, traditions and meaning are closely wed.

And I cried over the confusion of it all.

I got home to find him just where we had planned: safely in our bed, snuggled on his side. The lights were dimmed, football was on the TV, and he lay perfectly still. I came beside him to give him some meds, and he said, "No, no, baby girl. Stay away. You can't get this. I'll be okay. Check on me in a few hours. And please, sleep downstairs. I'll text you if I need you."

As I handed him his dose of medicine, he wouldn't let his fingers touch mine. He said, "I cannot explain how this feels. It's the worst pain of my life. You can't get this. Please, go downstairs."

His last living act toward me: protection.

Let me tell you this little secret... 12 years ago, when we first wrapped our hearts around this consuming love we fell hard into, we established an I-Love-You code.

Three hand squeezes: I. Love. You.
Two hand squeezes: You. Too.

At the time, I thought to myself, this may come in handy if ever he cannot speak. I can still tell him; somehow, I'll still tell him.

I checked on him throughout the night. He never, ever opened his eyes. But one time, as he sensed me near him, he weakly lifted his right hand. He patted the bed three times.

I. Love. You.

Around five in the morning, my phone rang beside me on the couch.

"I need you."

I raced up the stairs, and I found him sitting up on the side of the bed.

"I can't... I can't... I can't.... slow down. I can't slow down.... my... breathing.... I can't..."

"Oh, God. Oh, God. I'll call 9-1-1. I'm calling 9-1-1, baby. It's okay. It's okay."

I speed dialed my mom: "Mom. I'm calling 9-1-1. Come for the boys. Hurry."

I dialed 9-1-1.

"9-1-1. What is your emergency?"

I scrambled through my dresser drawers, throwing on clothes as I spoke. "My husband. My husband. He has Influenza A, and he cannot breathe. Please send help. Please send help. Please help me."

"Of course, Ma'am. What is your address?"

As I told her, I saw him fall off the bed into a heap on the floor. I screamed to him. I screamed to her. I screamed. "Please! Please help me! He's not conscious! Please help me now!!"

"Ma'am, please stop shouting. Please listen to me."

"Tell me what to do! God help me! Help me! He's not breathing!" I knelt over him, screaming.

For a moment, he opened his eyes, and in a valiant, courageous effort he pushed himself to a sitting position. He leaned against the wall, rested his head back... and he found me with his eyes.

His eyes found mine.

And I watched the color drain from his face. With his eyes on mine, his face turned gray.

I screamed for him, over him, to him. She told me to lay him down, this woman in my ear who talked me through. I tried. I really tried. But he's a big man, that husband of mine. I laid him down as best I could.

She told me to clear his airway, to make sure nothing blocked it. Just as I had learned in eighth grade health class, I cleared his airway with two fingers. And he bit me.

I pulled my fingers free, screaming for help, screaming, screaming.

"Feel for air from his nose," she said. I felt only stillness.

"Feel for a pulse," she said. His neck was a stone.

"Begin chest compressions," she said. I pounded on his chest, with everything in me. He was gray and unmoving. Still, I pounded.

My mom walked into my bedroom to find me kneeling over him, pounding. "I think he's gone, Mom! I think he died!"

"No. No. Don't say that. The paramedics are here. In here, gentlemen, in here."

They came in with a fury, these men on a mission. In no time at all, my bedroom was filled with at least six men, maybe eight, getting to work.

I jumped out of their way, and I jumped in the air. "Please fix him. Please fix him. Oh, God, please fix him."

"Ma'am, you need to leave the room please."

They ushered me downstairs, safely out of their way. My parents paced in the kitchen and made phone calls all over the country. "Please pray. The paramedics are working on him now. We don't know. We don't know. We don't know."

I gathered my Scripture cards, the hand-written 3x5 companions I've carried in my purse for more than two years. And I will tell you, here and now, the Lord quieted my heart with a peace that passes understanding.

I raise my eyes toward the mountains.
Where will my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
your Protector will not slumber.
Indeed, the Protector of Israel does not slumber or sleep.
The Lord protects you;
the Lord is a shelter right by your side.
The sun will not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all harm;
He will protect your life.
The Lord will protect your coming and going,
both now and forever. ~ Psalm 121

Again and again, I read those words. Long moments passed. So many. I heard the sounds of rescue upstairs. The sounds of great efforts. The sounds of courageous men doing all they could do.

An officer came into the kitchen. He said, "Are you his wife?"

"I am."

"Ma'am, we've been working on him for forty minutes, and we're doing all we can. But there is no heartbeat or breath sounds, and there have not been any. We're going to need to tell you he has passed."

We're going to need to tell you. As in, not yet, but soon we'll need to. I have since learned that they said it this way to ease the news. Just in case I may fall to the floor and they would have a second patient on their hands, they wanted to break it gently. We're going to need to tell you.

My wise and brave mom looked to him and said, "Is that the final word? Is he gone?"

The officer looked to me. "Yes, Ma'am. I'm so very sorry. He's gone."

Have you ever wondered what you might say if a police officer tells you your husband has died? I never imagined it this way, but I simply said, "Okay."

And I looked at the hand-written card in my hands.

I raise my eyes toward the mountains.
Where will my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He is gone. Okay. My help comes from the Lord.

Robb's dad and brother arrived, swooping into the house with the urgency we all felt. They looked at me... I shook my head. "He died."

They bolted up the stairs. The police stopped them. I could not see them, around the corner in the stairwell. But I heard them. And it is the sounds of mourning that do not leave my mind.

I listened again when his mother arrived. There are no words for these sounds, I assure you. And if there were, I would not write them.

The officer came to me. "You may see him now, Ma'am. You don't have to if you don't wish to, but you may if you would like. And I must tell you, this is your last chance."

Of course, I will see him. Of course, I will see him.

His dad traveled the stairs with me, and together we entered my bedroom, now an absent scene with remnants of urgency, panic, and medical intervention. My bed was wrecked; pillows were strewn all over. The carpet was wet. Medical paraphernalia was scattered all over. In the midst of it all, there lay my husband. He was intubated, with my bed sheet covering him from the chest down.

I was carefully instructed not to lift the sheet, and I absolutely obeyed. They had done all they could, and I am confident my bedroom was an operating room. What hid under that sheet need never enter my mind.

I knelt over him, and I wept. I cried for many things, for his life, for his death, for his sons, for his wife, for his dreams and mine. I cried for things I don't even know yet. My father-in-law held me and said, "I'm so sorry, sweetheart. I'm so sorry, sweetheart."

I didn't wish to look at Robb's face. It didn't look like him. But I looked just long enough to confirm one thing: he looked just the same when his eyes were locked with mine. He died with me.

He died with me.

I rubbed his prickly head, the shaved cut I loved so much. And I thought to myself, Remember this. Remember this. Remember this.

I held his hand, the only part of him that still looked like him. His fingers were cold and white; his fingernails were purple. But it was his hand, the very hand I held on our first date, on our wedding day, as we prayed over each meal together, as we sat together in church, as our sons were born. I kissed his palm. I slipped his wedding ring off his finger and onto my thumb.

I kissed his forehead.

"I'll love you forever, Robb Williford. I'll love you forever."

There are many things I do not understand, and there are many questions in my mind. But I am confident of three things:

1. He died fighting. He pushed himself up, he leaned against the wall, and he fought to stay alive until his eyes held mine.

2. He died knowing I was fighting for him. He heard me screaming for him, to him, for God, to God. He knew I fought for him, with his dying breath.

3. I know where my hope and my husband rest: with the Lord Jesus Christ. I may have no idea how to walk the path of tomorrow, this week, or next year, but my hope is sure. I will see my husband again. And in the meantime, I long to dream of him. I'd love to hear him laugh.

He died in my arms, and I will love him forever.

My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.


Alli said...

Oh, Tricia. Your heart, in words. Sacred. Forever.

I love you, through and through.

I will walk with you for life.

Liz said...

Oh Sweet Tricia....your courage to share your most intimate experiences and thoughts consumes me. God bless you sweet Tricia....God Bless You!

Dawn said...


My heart weeps for you and your family. Your strength and faith in God is amazing. I will continue to pray for you all.


Emily Kaye said...

I weep for you and your boys but am in awe of the words you were able to find to tell of those last moments. Your love for him is unmistakable. May our Lord Jesus Christ continue to carry you in the days and months to follow. HE has overcome the world (John 16:33) and will bring joy again into your life. Much love, Emily

sdoubet said...

Tricia...amazing words, so sacred to you, and yet you shared them with us. This is such a testimony to you and Robb's love, and your love of the Lord. Thank you for sharing...thank you.

Carr525 said...

I'm not sure if there's anything left to say. I've said this before...I know this is a story you wish you could re-write, but you are stewarding it with great care, grace and sacredness. We are your great cloud of witnesses and will carry you always. Love you...


Jennifer said...

I am weeping with you Tricia!

DenverSop said...


I read it aloud to Eric, crying with every word. Thank you for allowing us to witness this sacred moment through your beautiful, vulnerable writing. We pray unceasingly for you.


thewonderfulhappens said...

I hope that provided some small sense of healing to write your account of what happened. All of us appreciate you sharing your heart. Reading this helps me know how to pray for you. Please continue to share. Your witness and faith are inspiring.

Maria Stahl said...


Jan said...

Dear Tricia, I have thought of you everyday since this happened. Meghan, through tears, read your blog to me shortly after Robb went home. As I lost my first husband in a car accident, (Meg's biological Dad)I am able to empathize w/you in some areas. I am praying for all of you. Alot! Nothing else to say at this time. My heart cries for you.
Jan Margida

Jessica said...

oh dear tricia.
my heart is aching for you as i read this. what courage and what a testimony. i will never stop praying for you and tucker and tyler.

Jeni said...

Thank you for sharing your experience. My heart goes out to you. I pray for you. I'm so glad you know where your hope is.

my3boys said...

You are amazing. Your writing is amazing. Your love for Robb is amazing. Your love for our LORD is amazing. May God bless you, Tucker, and Tyler abundantly in the year ahead.

Birdgirl90 said...

Oh Tricia.

I cried as I read. You are so strong to share this. My prayers are with you and have been with you constantly. Through it all, your love of the Lord amazes me and inspires me to deepen my relationship with Christ.

Thank you for sharing this.

Sum said...

Dear Tricia,

I found your blog through Kacie Williams (http://kaciewilliams.tumblr.com/). I don't know you personally, but I was touched and broken hearted after reading your story. I'm so sorry for your loss and everything you've been through. I am humbled by your faith in the Lord. I hope and pray for you and your family. May God be with you, always.



Tina said...

Tricia, your courage in sharing this experience is astounding. My heart is breaking for you and your family. Last night I spent quite a bit of time reading through your past posts, and while I never met your husband or boys, I feel as if I have. Praying for you.

Happy Working Mom said...

I have prayed for you daily since hearing about this tragic event. I can't imagine what you're going through. Your faith is such a great example to all who read your writing and/or meet you.


Amanda S. said...

I know of you through Carrie Barton, and I think your strength and courage is inspiring. You sound like an amazing woman with a wealth of supportive friends, family and faith, and I hope they help carry you through the rough patches ahead. Warmest wishes for peace and love sent your way.

Bonnelle Pagel said...


I may not know you but I wept with you when I read your words. I pray for the deep comfort that only the Lord can give.. to flood your heart and mind and home over the days and weeks and months ahead.

Kristen said...

You don't know me, but I'm one of the co-coordinators of SECC MOPS (where you spoke a few months ago and touched so many of us). I just heard about this yesterday and have thought about you ever since. I'm so sorry for your loss. Your writing is just so beautiful and touching. I'm praying for you and your sons during your darkest hours. He will show you the light again.


Kristen Sanchez

Country Risk Analysis said...


I don't know you but heard of you through LaRissa Weimer. I also went to Cedarville, have lived in Colorado, and write for a living.

I sat and cried while reading your account. You are a rock and as my former pastor, John Piper, would say, are suffering well. May God continue to give you strength as you raise your adorable boys and continue to grieve this loss.

Nicole Russell

eb said...

Robb's fight to stay alive - and your fight to pick up the pieces after his death is what shines through in this terrible, sacred tale.

May the Maker of Heaven and Earth be the one to grab a hold of your hand and give you three squeezes. The rest of us will help however we can.

Keep fighting.

Jamie said...

You are so amazing! Your family is in my prayers everyday, but your strength and perspective are nothing short of inspiring. Thank you for your transparency in the middle of a dark place. May God continue to be your hope!
Much love and peace, Jamie

Jason said...

May his memory be eternal.

Sandy Ensminger said...

I can't begin to feel your pain but my heart goes out to you and your family. I heard of your tragedy through my Ohio familym I am so so sorry..

Jennyscloset said...

Thank you for posting such a beautiful blog about my nephew Robb (Robbie). Having never met you I am so pleased to know how loved he was by you. The fact that he left this life with you there gives me comfort. I have read this aloud to his grandma today and we cried together.
Please feel free to contact me anytime. Aunt Diana

Mo said...

Thank you for sharing your heart in such a dark hour. I heard about your story through my sister, who used to attend the same church as you. I have thought of you and your boys and prayed for you every day since. I have grieved for you and ached for you. Never has the tragedy of a stranger affected me so. Thank you so much for your honesty and transparency. Please know that your story and your faith are hugely working for the glory of our Father.

I will continue to pray for you and your sweet boys. I pray that you will be able to call on those that have rallied around you and the Body of Christ to help carry this weight when you don't feel strong enough.

Big Red said...

Thank you for sharing your heart-wrenching experiences. You took me there with your words...the anguish, the fierce fight to live and to save, the sounds of mourning. Please know that you, the boys, Craig and Carolyn, the entire family continue to be on my heart and in my prayers.

Terry said...

dear tricia...sometimes when the posts are so exceptional, i read them to by husband and mom golden but in no way could i do it this time with this heart rendering post..i would not be able to read it without crying.
how faithful you and rob are to the lord and how the lord has given you such great scriptures.
those beautiful eyes that searched and caught yours in the last moments are now wide open in his new house that the lord has prepared....god bless you dear tricia..with love from terry

Danny & Rosie said...

Dear Tricia,
I do not know you but we have a mutual friend in Melody Benschoter and she shared your blog on facebook. Words cannot express how sorry I am for your loss. Your words bring back so many memories of the day my husband and I found our 7 year old daughter lifeless in her bedroom just a short 8 months ago. I have no idea what it feels like to have lost my husband but I know how losing a loved one so close can rip your heart and soul out. Your story, your words are so sacred and I understand the mourning sounds of loved ones as you've explained in your blog. I am glad you are hanging on to your faith and the maker of life! Sounds like you are being carried by Jesus as you should be during such a dark time as this. My heart aches for yours and I pray that God continues to give you much peace that surpasses all understanding. God bless you.
Rosie Herrera

Sabrina said...

Tricia, if you haven't heard it already, the most beautiful version of that Psalm is sung by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and is called "My Help." I've been listening to it today and thinking of you. It's gotten me through some tough times.

Kim said...

Tricia, I do not know you personally, but I am friends with a few of your friends. I have heard nothing but beautiful things about you. What a brave woman you are to share your heart and experience in this way. I hope to meet you in person one day. Blessings on you and your boys.

Beth said...

Your words have touched me more then you could know. Heart wrenching. Life changing.

the4j's said...

I am josh mitchael's mom and have read your journey with prayer and sadness for you and your family.
josh has spoken of you and robb so many times since his visit.
i ache for you and am praying for peace and healing.
bless you.
jennifer mitchael

graber1 said...

Dear Tricia,
I was surprised and shocked to hear about what you are going through. I remember you as the most bubbly little girl a CHCS. I have been where you are, how confusing and painful, and I know that God is with you in all of this. The passage He gave to me was Is. 42: 16-"I will lead the blind on roads they have never known; I will guide them on paths they have never traveled. Their road is dark and rough,
but I will give light to keep them from stumbling.
This is my solemn promise." I'm praying all of that for you and your family. Keep writing

JodiTucker said...

Praying through tears for you and your family from Akron, OH....knowing of you and your family from my daughter who reads your blog. May God be your peace and help as only He can.

Nicole said...

Tricia, I know of you through my sister-in-law, Mindy. I wept as I read your blog. I wish it was a blog you never had to write. I know you do, too.

Know I will continue to pray for you, your boys, and both your families. What amazing strength from the Lord, although I imagine it comes and goes . . . You are loved by sisters in Christ you don't even know!

Bonnie said...

I am a friend of Christines, we work together. I started following your blog a few weeks ago. I felt connected to you because I also have 2 little boys.

I was heartbroken when I heard the news but I have been praying for you and your boys.

Through your writing I can tell you are an amazing woman. I know you are going to do amazing things. God has big plans for you I can just feel it.

My husband has survived cancer twice and recently underwent brain surgery. Many times I thought I might lose him but thankfully didn't. I know I can't relate to what you are going through but have certainly thought about what if many times.

My heart and prayers go out to you and your family. Thank you for sharing your story. You are an inspiration.

Gage said...

Tricia, I am so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you and your boys. Let God carry you through this difficult time and know that He loves you dearly. I am praying for peace, comfort and the joy that Robb would want for you in the years to come.

Jennifer said...

Dear Tricia,
How do I email you personally. I lost my husband 5 years ago in the line of duty. At the time my kids were 20 months and 5 months old. I cried with your son asking you to email dad and tell him it is time to come home. My little Jordan has said similar things to me. My heart is with you and I'd love to send you a copy of my book that was published in 2009 about our story. It is evident that you have a powerful story to share. Your heart is not only courageous but beautifully inspirational!

ShupePhotoFind said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lindseyweber said...

Oh, Tricia. Your courage, your heart, your pain... I cannot comprehend such a great loss as you are experiencing, and yet the evidence of how snugly your spirit rests in Jesus is beautiful and powerful to see. "I lift my eyes up" is a rock-solid truth that has seen me through many dark times; may its promise surround, uphold and comfort you as you walk through the days ahead. I first heard of your loss today, and I have been praying ever since. May God keep blessing you, dear one!

Denise said...

Laser precision in defining what a privilege it is to love and be loved. Only the Lord can build a masterpiece such as this. HE paid particular attention to you, Tricia.

I am a childhood friend of your mother's and came to know of this tragedy through Facebook. Thank you for letting me peek behind the curtain. You and your family remain in my prayers and daily devotions.

Priscilla said...

We have been praying for you, your family and all the ones who love you and are surrounding you at this time. Although we don't know you we know many who love you at Denver Seminary! There are a group of evangelical seminary presidents and their spouses who are praying for you and Craig and Carolyn with much love and many tears right now in Scottsdale, AZ. Amazing, the body of Christ! I know you are experiencing that. May our Father of all comfort bring peace to your broken heart!
Mark and Priscilla Young

Rachael said...

I hope it's ok to leave a comment. You dont know me. I heard of your blog through a friend and just sat tonight to read it. I want you to tell you are His light. No. You are their lights. Both God and Robbs. Your light is a testimony and a reminder to all of Robbs life and of God's sovereignty. Keep sharing. Keep opening up even when its hard. You are encouraging those that know Him to nestle that much more under His wing and those that dont know to start to seek Him. We are not promised tomorrow. Thank you for sweet painful honesty. I love you without knowing you my amazing sister. If we never meet her I look forward to meeting you and Robb when we get home. I will continue to follow you and pray for you. In His Grace...

Lauren said...

I found this blog through one of my professors, Mandy Hutchinson. As I read your story and my tears began flowing, I imagined how I would deal with something like this if it happened to me. I am humbled by how you handled this trial. You are such a strong woman, grounded in God's truth. You have inspired me to grow more in my walk with Christ. Right now, if something like this happened to me, I do not feel that I could handle it as well as you have. After listening to what you said at your husband's funeral, I was even more astounded by your strength. I long to be able to lean upon the Lord fully through trials as you have. Know that you and your family will be in my prayers! Thank you for sharing your story, and thank you for encouraging me to be a stronger woman in the Lord!

Terri said...

You do not know me but I wanted to let you know that I cried and I rejoiced in reading your blog. The amazing power of God showing through in your life makes me speechless. God is using you & is going to use you in an even greater capacity in the coming days. Thank you for allowing the Lord to shine through you showing us His strength, His peace, and His love. God bless you and continue to comfort you.

kay morrison said...

heartbroken for your loss, grateful for your Helper.

may He fill your heart with the sweetest of memories, fill your body with His strength to endure and fill your soul with His magnificent peace beyond imagining.

suzzers10 said...

My daughter watched your boys when you went to Trinity for your father-in-law's inauguration. Thank you for sharing your heart so openly and transparently. We have been praying for you since Dec. 23rd when we got the news of Robb's home going and last night after I heard your message and read your blog, I could not stop praying for you. May God hold you in the palm of His hand and wrap you in His strong and loving arms.

creese007 said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your boy’s everyday.

Ceci said...

I am praying for you and your family. May the God of peace be with you, your boys, your parents, his parents, and the rest of the family as you grieve his loss.

Ginny said...

a friend lead me here... God lead me here to learn from you. what an amazing testimony of sincerity you are. praying for you and your boys.

angie k said...

I read your blog and I heard you speak at the memorial. You have such a special gift to write and speak so passionately. You are so inspiring and you comfort all of those around you. I wish I could do that for you. I cried as I read each word you wrote. I was next door that morning. Watching, crying, and waiting for answers. To scared to know the truth. My thoughts have never been same. I didn't know you very well, but tricia, you are amazing! You have such strength and you are an wonderful mother. I pray and think of you and the boys every day. God bless you and your family. Angie k

Brian said...

Heart Breaking, thank you for sharing.

"You are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses...."

Mom Keena said...

Dear Tricia,
I know you only through others; Jen E and Mindy W. Just wanted to say thanks for sharing your heart through this very intimate experience. My heart aches for you and your boys, and your whole family during this time of your husband's death. The verses you read during that night are some of my favorite scriptures! God IS our help. I know you are finding Him faithful.

Emmerz said...

Dear Tricia,

I read your story from an invite by Lisa Moore. I can relate with your pain and fear due to similar circumstances, and I could not stop crying as I read your beautifully written account. How Great is our God Almighty to strengthen his children and faithfully be to us a Father, Comforter, Strength, and Husband. I am so sorry to learn of your loss, but very encouraged by your deep faith. Bless you for sharing your heart with so many. In sisterly love and prayer, Danielle Carr

Shelly said...

Tricia. I am so very, very sorry. I have no other words, other than, just keep getting up each morning. Your boys are your lifeline. My prayers are with you and your family. I think you must have a lot of love surrounding all of you. Take it. Again -- I'm so sorry for this time in your life.

Shelly said...

I forgot to mention something. You may find a little comfort and insight by reading my daughter-in-law's blog. My grandson died from Pertussis on Jan. 7th -- just one year ago. She documented, as you are doing, thoughts and experiences of their family over the last year.


Love and prayers to you.

Natalie. said...


There is sacredness in these words.

I am so touched by your courage. MOVED by your courage... by your faith in Jesus Christ.

My heart is FILLED with prayer for you.

Someone sent me here today, not my mother in law, though I noticed she's been here and commented right above me (Shelly). I am so glad they did. You have touched me to the very core.

You continue to write. Continue to let the words flow in and through you. I know you know from whom they come, and I know you know that they will heal your broken soul the way nothing else could.

With so many prayers and so much love and compassion,

Natalie Norton

M;lu G said...

Tricia, thank you for sharing your heart. My heart goes out to you, I canot imagine what you are going through, but I know that you and Robb are both in the BEST place. He is with our Lord, and you are protected under the shelter of HIS wings. HE is your Protector, Provider, and Peace (I can sense the peace in your writing), and HE is your husband. And a Father to your sons. HE knows the plans HE has for you to prosper you and NOT to harm you. To give you a hope and a future. HE will NEVER leave you or forsake you. You are the apple of HIS eye. And HE ownx the cattle on a Thousand Hills. Occasionally you may need to ask HIM to sell one or more of them.

Blessings in your writing. You truly are gifted.. If you have never read anything by Catherine Marshall you may want to pick up some of her books. She experienced something very similar to what you have.

Marylou Greene

Amy said...

Wow! I am so sorry that you are passing thru this. I am glad that God was with you and that you have the memories that you have which was beautifully written.

As you put on foot in front of the other in the days to come may God be your strong tower. May you feel His love poured out on you as no other time in your life.


Lori said...

With tears streaming down my face I want you to know I am praying for your family as you enter into 2011. May God comfort you and through your broken heart may God continue to shine. The road is rocky, but God is faithful.

Lori said...

With tears streaming down my face I want you to know I am praying for your family as you enter into 2011. May God comfort you and through your broken heart may God continue to shine. The road is rocky, but God is faithful.

tfb said...

I barely know what to say. Thank you for sharing this. Jane, my beloved wife of 18 years and mother of our six children, was welcomed into Christ's presence on February 10, 2010. I will pray for you.

Eric said...

Thank you for sharing your story. My wife passed unexpectedly on December 17th this past year in somewhat similar fashion, except she was quickly taken to the hospital where the news was heard. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Jill said...

Tricia, thanks so much for sharing this. God Bless you as you and the boys walk the valley of this grief. I know that God's good and he will strengthen you. You are in my prayers

DJP said...

Heart-breaking. I am so sorry. God bless, strengthen, support and comfort you.

Amy said...

I am praying for you. I am blessed and reassured that God's Word came alive for you to comfort you in an unfathomable moment of loss. I'm praying for God's grace to strengthen you, to help you make decisions and to allow you to endure the hard days. I'm praying for the peace that passes all understanding. I'm asking Him to be so tangible to you in those moments where you need Him so. Praying for you still.

ryangeer said...

I wasn't going to comment - I don't know you and found my way here through another blog (challies, maybe...) - but, having endured the sudden losses of my Dad (59) and oldest sister (40) over the last 2 years, I have always found the fact that others were thinking about and praying for me comforting (whether I knew them or not). So, I'm commenting - I am praying for you and your two children and am really encouraged by what you have written in this and subsequent posts.

Thank you for your transparency, for your sharing what are very personal details - not for any voyeuristic reasons but for how faith-building it is to see another follower of Christ walk through great difficulty and loss.

Deb_B said...

Tricia, you and your precious family will remain near in our prayers.

Rachael Starke said...

May God continue to give you grace, strength and confidence in His love and care for you and your family. Our family will be praying for you.

Mommah Love said...

Ma'am, I found your blog through Phil Johnson's twitter post.

I am including you and the rest of your family in my prayers...

Your faith in the midst of the chaos and confusion is amazing.

chogrefe said...

I don't know you Mrs. Williford, but I want you to know I sobbed reading this. May the LORD continue to hold you and your family up, day by day.

Bo said...

Dear Sweet Lady,

May the God of all grace sing over you, quiet you with His love, and boil forth from within you with the full weight of His glory.

I pray for you in your suffering, your children, and your entire family.

Oh God, how I pray that Jesus will be & continue to be enough for you. Dear God, do not let her heart become bitter. Jesus, meet her, stay with her, carry her through this dark night.

I ask this in the strong Name of Jesus, who has conquered the grave, Amen.

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

I am so sorry. I'm praying that God will comfort you and your family.

Alice said...

Tricia- we do not know each other but my son Kieran is in Tyler's class at SF. My heart aches for you and your boys' loss. You are all in our thoughts and prayers. Please let us know if we can help in any way.

Hillbilly Handiworks said...

I was forwarded this...and as I wipe my tears I want to offer your family a gift. I am a quilter and I have a quilt ministry. I would like to make you and your children a photo memory quilt of your husband if you would like. You can look on my blog under quilt ministry if you are interested. I am sponsoring the quilt. You would need to supply nothing but photos and some info. I would hope that it would bless you.
Tonya Owens a.k.a. Hillbilly

chris said...


You don't know me, but I was in the OSU marching band with Robb. We were rookies together, and in the band for the same years. I wasn't close friends with Robb, but I remember him being an extremely kind and warm individual, who was always quick with a smile. And I know how much he loved the OSUMB. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Trevor Peck said...

Praying...weeping...yet rejoicing that Robb has received his full reward - Jesus! He is enough...

Love in the Truth

Kathleen said...

Tears...of sadness...tears of pain...tears of rejoicing that your dear, wonderful husband is in heaven with our Lord ♥ God will see you through and your sons through...because He is your Rock, Protector, Redeemer~Lover of your souls~And Friend ♥

Kathleen <3

Chuck Weinberg said...

'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, and I really have no idea how so many make it through life, let alone times like you are currently going through w/o our Blessed Hope.
We have so much to be thankful for and so much need of His mercies, which will be new tomorrow for you again, and grace.
I am sorry for your loss but know that God is good and He gives only what is best for us. I know it is hard to see this as best right now, but somehow and in some way, HE will make it perfect for you and your boys.
His grace is sufficient and I am continually amazed that as He takes us through these fiery trials that He does give a peace that passes all understanding; and He will keep giving it to you. I know this first hand.
May you truly feel His strong hand of support and know His Fatherly love for you in this time.
Thanks for sharing- it helps so many others get through whatever it is they are going through.
Thank you my sister in Christ for letting God use you.

Mrs. MK said...

Praying deeply for you, your boys, and all of your family. New reader from Challies.

peanut said...

I wish I could walk alongside you and carry your pain. I am praying for you instead!

Jim said...

Tricia, this was a hard read for me. I am so sorry for your grief. Yet, isn't it soooooo great that you have a God who loves you. He loves you, before, now, and forever. He is here with you when you have lost the man love of your life.

God has given you your wonderful talent of writing. You have written so beautifully something that is terrible hard to write, something you could not write in your own strength.

God has given you a purpose in life that He has prepared you for way before Robb died. He has given you tasks, one of which is to finish raising Tuck and Ty.

I believe after reading this account and your subsequent writing that God has prepared you to give testimony of the strenght He has instilled you with. And to continue telling your testimony of how He has inspired you to write of His wonders and of His love.

May God continue to bless and keep you in His bosom. Terry, bless her heart, led me to your blog tonight. I believe God wanted me to read everything you have written about your experience.
Praise God!

donna said...

tricia, i'm so encouraged by this post. it's been a year since my sister passed away. although it's been hard, there is still trust and hope in the Lord knowing that he knows best. i pray that you and your family will continue to find comfort through our God and his lovingkindness.

AKA "Meesh" said...

Unsure of what your situation is, I'm a stranger looking to help. I'm with a non-profit, The Liz Logelin Foundation, set up for widows/widowers with young kids. If there is anything we can do to help you, please apply for assistance. I'm so sorry for your loss, but so grateful to read of your love. God bless.


Paige said...

Praying this morning for you, your boys and your family. May God continue to comfort you and give you peace.

Joel and Ingrid said...

Thank you for sharing your heart.
Praying that everyday, somehow, you are given the strength to look up and feel your help (and love) coming from the Lord.

Jason Wert said...

Words can't express the sorrow I feel for you. I will be praying for you and your family.

Mallory said...

I'm praying for your family! I am SO, SO sorry.

April said...

O Wow. I do not have the words to express how very, truly, utterly sorry I am for your loss. The fact that you could write about it and share it with the world is a testament to your faith in Christ. May you know God's peace today and always.

Wired Whimsy said...

Absolutely no words. My heart is broken for you. As a wife who deeply loves her husband, this is one of my greatest fears, and I am so truly sorry you had to live it. You and your precious boys will be in my thoughts and prayers. I am so sorry.

cmp said...

Tricia, we don't know each other but my family is currently at Trinity, and I had the opportunity to introduce your parents-in-law at a Trinity Wives Fellowship meeting. I was so saddened to hear of your husband's passing, and you have been in my thoughts and prayers.

This past year, two of my friends lost their husbands suddenly - one to a drowning accident and another to a heart attack. Both are in their mid-thirties, and both have young children - one has a two-year-old daughter, the other has two daughters under eight years old. Both, blessedly, are believers. It has been heartbreaking and humbling for us to share in their journey since their losses. I'm sure you are blessed with support and many other resources, but if you could benefit from speaking with someone who has recently endured similar circumstances, I'd be happy to put you in touch with my friends. They tell me that talking with other young widowed mothers has greatly helped them. One of them is also keeping a blog: http://dearmissaudrey.blogspot.com/

Again, I'm so sorry for your loss We pray that the Lord is close to you and your family during this time.

All best,
Chris Park

Krista said...

Tricia, Although heartbreaking, your words are beautiful as they tell the story of true love and unwavering faith. There are no words I can say to help you manage this pain. Really, there are no words anyone can say to make this easier. But please know that I am sending a hundred prayers up to Heaven for you and your family tonight.

Elizabeth - MissWisabus.com said...

I arrived at your blog after seeing that you were following mine.

I have spent the last little bit weeping over what happened to you. I am so sorry.

May our Good and Gracious God hold you, comfort you, and protect you in all the days to come. - Elizabeth (MissWisabus.com)

Graced! said...

I have nothing to offer you but my prayers to our Faithful Father. Thank you for sharing your precious story.

Blogger said...

I am so sorry. There are no words. To say I feel your pain sounds trite, but I do; I feel it too. May YaHuWaH bring you comfort.

Kat said...

I don't know you, but I cried.
"Fear not...I am your shield and your exceedingly great reward" Genesis 17:1

God bless you.

Nina said...

You write with such pathos. The reader is right with you.

I feel your pain. I am writing about our daughter's life, death, and writings. We lost her 12/15/08. I have not been able to write about her death yet; the pain is too acute. I tried once. But I know it is important to do that.

And now as so often happens with the loss of a child, our marriage of 42.5 years is slipping away. Unthinkable!

NLWilliams said...

Dear Dear Tricia
I am sobbing for you and with you and for your precious family.
Many prayers for you from our family.
God bless you.
I know He is and He will

Jonathan and Audra Payne said...

Dear Tricia,
I don't know you . . . saw your link on a Midday Connection status on Facebook. I've typed and re-typed and typed and re-typed, but I think maybe the best thing to say is, just know that you are being lifted to your Betrothed by sisters you don't even know. For as long as you need, keep writing about your grief . . . let us help lift you up in whatever way we can. May God hold you ever, ever so close.

Aching for you and praying hard,
Audra Payne

Leanna Mama said...

Oh, I'm so sorry. Praying for you.

samantha said...

What a testimony to lean on God in the most difficult time. It makes me think of what my mom would have gone through when my father passed away to cancer. Its such an encouragement to see your trust comes in God. God is more pleased with us when we continue to live in faith in Him in difficult times.
Reading your story brought me tears as well as gladness to see your faith.

melsgarden said...


We do not know each other. I found your blog by accident. Your sacred and intimate experience, and the courage that you have to share it with the rest of the world is inspiring and also healing. Your story will inspire people not to take loved ones for granted.


Beloved sister in Jesus, I've been there. I am weeping with you--so, so grateful you have Abba father not only to get you through somehow but lead, escort, carry you through triumphantly. When my husband got terminal brain cancer, we prayed, "Lord, help us to do this RIGHT, to learn every single thing you want us to learn through it." I sense you are willing to do the same thing, to endure the pain IN SUCH A WAY that you glorify the Lord--AND (the personal pay-off) receive the joy, with Robb, that is set before you both. Jessica at

Melanie Dobson said...

Thank you for sharing your heart and your story.

winstead family said...

i do not know you, but i am praying for your precious family in this very moment.

Mwaks said...

Oh! Tricia. My heart sympathises with you and your family. Tricia, I love your courage and boldness of narratimg you sad story. God will continue to bless you and streghthen you faith. Together with my family we are praying for you. God bless you!

Mwachisenge Brown Mwachinga said...

Oh! Tricia. My heart sympathises with you and your family. Tricia, I love your courage and boldness of narratimg your sad story. God will continue to bless you and streghthen your faith. Together with my family we are praying for you. God bless you!

Mwachisenge Brown Mwachinga said...

Oh! Tricia. My heart sympathises with you and your family. Tricia, I love your courage and boldness of narratimg your sad story. God will continue to bless you and streghthen your faith. Together with my family we are praying for you. God bless you!

Michele Shank said...


jamiewhitewyatt said...

I am praying that the Peace that Passes Understanding continues to be stronger in your life each day. It was a gift that you were with your husband, instead of finding him gone, because you know you were TOGETHER when he went home! Praying for you to find God's perfect plan, for you and your precious children, as you navigate these difficult waters....
Jamie from GA

Debby said...

I am so, so sorry for your loss. I was told about your site from a friend. I lost my husband in January, and she thought it might be helpful for me. You are so, so brave and my heart goes out to you and breaks for your loss as well as my own.
God bless you and your children. I will hold you in my heart.

Heather said...

Hi its Heather Bechter (Liska) I dont know if you remembered me but we went to school together, and I just read your story and it touched my heart. As I was reading it tears built up in my eyes. I am so sorry for your loss of you loving husband. I know its been a while since he has passed. But I just wanted you to know that you and your children are in my prayers.
Let God Be with you and your children...Heather

Family said...

oh i am so sorry..... i too expereinced tragic loss of my husband last september. my heart wept while reading your recount of that day. i have tried to document "that day" through writing too but just cant... i just cant. You are so brave. thank you for sharing. oddly there is comfort in knowing that I'm not the only one. Brave sister in Christ.... thank you.

Laura Thompson said...

I have been following your blog since February when I came out from California to visit a friend here in Colorado. Her sister, Jodi Brown, told me about your story, and I have followed it every day since. Every morning that I read your blog, I pray for you and your two boys. I pray that whatever you need for that day, the Lord will provide it. I pray that the comfort and support will come like manna, just what you need, when you need it.
I can't tell you how many times your story has been Gods words to me at just the right time. Thank you for opening up your heart to so many and allowing us, total strangers, to witness what HE is doing for you.

Blessings and hugs,
Laura Thompson

Kate said...

I'm crying at your loss, Tricia. May our Lord strengthen you each morning, and give you what you need for that day, trusting He will do it all again tomorrow.

Emily said...

I was shown this blog by a friend and my heart breaks for you. I lost my dad to brain cancer three months ago and although I didn't loose my husband I feel your pain. Your story shows the raw emotion that often people don't talk about. Thank you for sharing it and you and your family will be in my prayers.

Erica said...

My heart truly aches for you and your boys. Telling the story had to have been truly tough for you as it was truly hard to read but I know that writing is a form of processing. For me it is anyway. Your love for Robb and his for you is sl beautifully evident. Your strength inspires me. Your words eloquent, honest and heartfelt.

Sonya Schroeder said...

Hi Tricia my name is Sonya and I am friends with Janelle and she introduced me to your blog today. I am so blessed to have read this story and your love for Jesus Christ. I look forward to getting to know you better. As I am sad for you and your loss I have peace knowing that you have the Lord by your side to guide you through each min,hour,day, week, month and years until you see your precious husband. Blessings to you sweet Tricia!

melissa winkelman said...

I sat here and cried at my desk at work after my mom sent me the article and I wanted to read the story. You are such a brave and admirable woman, not that having known you since we were little kiddos at CHCS would have made me ever think any different. Other women should take inspiration from your story and know that the pain they may feel in the loss of a loved one may never fully heal, but through celebration of that loved one's life, pain can turn into joy.

Mrs Turk said...

I'm not quite sure how I came to your blog today, but once here I couldn't leave again without taking time to tell you how deeply your story touched my heart. I am so, so very sorry for your loss.

The next few days as the anniversary of Robbs death near must be indescribably hard for you - please know that I, and many others are praying for God to provide you and your family with the strength and love you need to see each other through. May Robb rest in peace.

Kim Chitwood said...

Dear Tricia, Although we've never met I feel a bond with you. On December 17, 2013 I lost my husband of 23 1/2 years. He died unexpectedly of a heart attack. It was upstairs in our home. I am am mom of 4 teenage children. The hurt aches so badly. Dano was my love, life, teacher, pastor, and best friend. Thank you for writing your story. So much similarity. Kim