I've Learned A Lot In The 10 Years Since My Wife Died

by AJ Coleman
Originally Published: 
LEFT: Cassandra Photo ; RIGHT: Courtesy of AJ Coleman

This post is dedicated to my late wife, Cory, who passed away 10 years ago.

I’ve often said that life is like a roller coaster ride–it begins with excitement and uncertainty, it’s full of peaks, valleys, twists and turns, and before you know it, it’s over.

And sometimes a legacy is born.

Without question, a lot has happened in the past 10 years since Cory passed away. As you might expect, my lifestyle changed drastically. I was a single dad for eight years, now remarried. Career changes took place. Most importantly, my daughter is now a thriving 11-year-old.

Courtesy of AJ Coleman

Sometimes I find myself asking, “Did 10 years really go by?”

When looking back over the years, it’s normal to ask yourself: “Am I better off today than I was 10 years ago?” However, I don’t think that’s the right question to ask. Can we honestly give a fair assessment?

The better question is: “What have I learned about myself over the past decade?”

For me personally, that’s a tough one to answer. I could highlight various achievements and setbacks, but instead I’d rather share something from the heart.

I started writing five years ago to help others overcome personal challenges. By sharing my wisdom and philosophical views, I hope to offer an alternative perception on life and provide guidance on how to navigate uncharted waters.

I discovered that deep down, my writing is self-reflective about Cory’s death. Little did I realize that while helping others overcome their challenges, I would be helping myself too.

I rarely speak about Cory’s passing, as words cannot fully describe what I’ve been through. But through writing, I’m able to formulate clear perspectives and insights.

As time goes by, certain memories fade. It’s not intentional, it’s just the reality of life and time. Life carries on and brings about new memories, pushing older memories out.

May 18, 2019 marked the ten year anniversary that Cory ascended to the heavens above, leaving my daughter and I to carry on her legacy.

Each year, May 13th marks the 8-day mourning period for us—and all of the memories come rushing back in vivid detail.

During these eight days, I can recite every hour, every minute, of our relationship. From the moment I met Cory, to the moment she was admitted into the hospital, to the moment she took her last breath.

Three days later, she was laid to rest. Cory’s legacy began.

10 years later, Cory’s legacy continues to live on within us. She touched the lives of many with her smile and laughter. She made others around her better and brought joy to those who knew her. Cory’s strength and bravery as she battled cancer served as an inspiration as she defied medical science by living long enough to see our daughter’s first steps.

But in the end, she left this world far too soon.

The truth is, I miss her every day. I often look to the heavens seeking her guidance, which helps me find a balance. I believe she’s transcended into an angel, protecting my daughter and I each day. The past year, I’ve seen several instances that can only be explained by that logic.

Coincidence, or paranormal activity? Who am I to say?

As for my daughter, she was only one when Cory passed away. In her bedroom, my favorite photo of Cory and her, taken when she was nine months old, sits framed on the shelf. My daughter cherishes the photo and hugs it whenever she feels sad or needs to be comforted. Although she doesn’t have any recollections of her mother’s presence, she carries Cory’s legacy through the stories told by those who knew her.

Ten years.


Has it really been 10 years? I’m suddenly at a loss for words as I can’t believe Cory has been gone that long. As I take a deep breath, I try to reminisce.

Circling back to the question, “What have I learned about myself within the past ten years?”

Courtesy of AJ Coleman

So much has changed and so much has happened. I became a widower at age 33 and was trying to comprehend the realities of my life. I was determined to overcome challenges. Sometimes I prospered, other times I didn’t.

Over the last 10 years, I’ve learned there will always be setbacks, heartaches, and pain. But it’s up to you to keep those feet moving. No one can do it for you. You’ve simply got to rise above to overcome. And for that reason alone— that mindset—is what propels me forward each day.

Our time on Earth is precious. You never know when your time will be up.

You can live life in defeat and sorrow, turning a season of mourning into a lifetime. Or you can live to the fullest, take advantage of every opportunity, and turn setbacks into positive gains.

My daughter and I choose to celebrate Cory’s legacy, not mourn her loss. She is forever in our hearts and always with us. Somewhere, I can only hope Cory’s looking down from the heavens with a smile.

For Cory… we keep those feet moving.

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