Post #1,499 – 10 Years A Widow: Non Sum Qualis Eram


Today is the 10th anniversary of becoming a new creation. Ten years ago this morning Joe suffered a stroke caused by a blood vessel rupturing at the base of his brain.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17

I went kicking and screaming into this transformation. It is the day I came home from work, pressed the button on the answering machine and found out what Non Sum Qualis Eram truly means.

The History Behind Non 

My coworkers and I were sitting at our desks working crossword puzzles on a winter day when I worked for a savings and loan.  I do not remember the clue for the answer, but I looked up “Non Sum Qualis Eram” in the dictionary (this was BG – Before Google) and I discovered it meant

I am not what I used to be

I cracked up laughing. I told my coworker that is what I want on my tombstone – I am not what I used to be. It is true. When you die you are not what you used to be. You are a new creation.

Well, that is not what is on our marker out at the cemetery.


Putting This Post Together

When I started putting this post together, I thought it would be how I summed up the last 10 years of being a widow instead of a wife.


Instead, it begins a series of lessons, opinions, and observations based on my experiences during the past 10 years.  They are a mixture of good, bad, and ugly. They are intended to prepare you a teeny, tiny bit for what you may face if and when you become a widow. Because that is what I do best, educate, inspire, and train – just call me your Grief Cheerleader.

So come along with me on a journey of looking back and fondly remembering while moving forward with life as a new creation.


Oh and if Non Sum Qualis Eram is not on our marker – what is? A line from Joe’s favorite song from The Phantom of the Opera:

Think of me, think of me fondly when we’ve said goodbye.


Bio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while managing call center teams, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of chocolate, red roses and golden retrievers and is an amateur photographer.


Sewer Rat Series Part 3: Rommie & Michele Mutate Back To Normal

Today is the 3rd installment of the Sewer Rat Series. Rommie and I are mutating back to our normal forms from that of Michaelangelo and Splinter.

“Gone With The Wind”

The dehumidifiers and fans are gone from the basement so the house is quiet again. Never knew how much I appreciated this quiet house until those silver and blue monsters moved in.

Rommie seems happier and spunkier.  She even ate her breakfast this morning, something she has not done in days.  She would however eat dinner.


Now we enter the in-between stage.  The stage of waiting and getting estimates to tear down the basement walls and rebuild them.  Bye-bye to the wallpaper going down the basement steps and bye-bye to Joe’s wallpaper for his man cave that I never liked.

Wallpaper on the way down the basement steps.
Wallpaper on the way down the basement steps.


Wallpaper in Joe's "Man Cave." (light blue and gold diamonds on white background)
Wallpaper in Joe’s “Man Cave.” (light blue and gold diamonds on white background)

Now I get to pick a color and paint the walls. Most likely a shade of white to brighten up the place and make it look bigger. (No, Mom it will not be Sherwin Williams Antique White as it is too dark for the basement.)

My Vision

My vision for the former basement TV room includes 2 corner cupboards, (sitting on top of concrete blocks because the basement will flood again, it’s just a question of when.) a gas fireplace, and a picture of an Irish castle ruins resting on top of the mantle (I already have the picture).

As for furniture, something comfy with legs. When the basement floods, the furniture can be turned over and the legs wiped off.

What My Vision Does Not Include

I do not envision a TV in the room.  This room will be a quiet place to get away and read books or maybe even take up sewing. I found some old t-shirts and sweatshirts that would make great pillows.

“Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again”

This adventure was stressful for both Rommie and me.  If Joe was here, we would have worked our schedules out so both of us were doing 1/2 days instead of me missing 3 days at work. The stress would have been less as we both would have been shouldering it. But it is not possible to have Joe here and there is no man in my life at present with whom to share this adventure.

So this widow goes it alone, pressing onward everyday and working to rebuild and deal with all the challenges life throws at me.

More articles about the basement’s transformation from “Man Cave” to “Michele’s Cave” will be forthcoming.



I Am A Griever

I am a griever.

I am a griever in the sense that I grieve when death strikes, but then move forward with life.

I believe in the power of grieving, in the power of crying and letting grief out instead of keeping it bottled up.

However, I do not believe in forever grieving a loved one’s passing.

Why would I grieve Joe’s move to heaven every day? That would be very selfish of me. He is in paradise and to grieve over that fact 24/7 six years later is wrong.

Special Occasions

Yes, there will be occasions where grief will surface, like when his niece gets married later this year. I will go to the cemetery with a silk flower arrangement in the wedding colors. I will have a few choice words for him as he should be here to give his niece a hug and to welcome his new nephew into the family.

After leaving the cemetery I will go to the wedding and reception and enjoy myself. It will be an example of joy and pain co-existing with joy winning the day.

How I Think Of Joe

When I think of Joe, I live out what is on our marker at the cemetery:

“Think of me, think of me fondly when we’ve said good bye.”

You musical theatre lovers will recognize the song “Think of Me” from “The Phantom of the Opera.”  It  was Joe’s favorite song and sung by the character Christine Daae.  It seemed appropriate to put the phrase on our marker.

Focus, Focus, Focus

My focus is on the positive – Joe is in heaven with God, Jesus, his brother, mother, father and the rest of the Kearns family who moved to heaven before Joe.

There will come a time when your focus will also be on the positive memories and the fact your loved one is in paradise – where there is no pain and suffering and life is grander and more beautiful than here.

2 Years

If it has been more than 2 years since your loved one’s move to heaven and you are still in an active grieving mode, I have one question for you – “Why?”

Think of him fondly while moving forward with your new and wonderful life.

It will not be easy but nothing worthwhile ever is and life here is still worthwhile.