As an author and humorist, Reid Champagne is known for his absurd & sophomoric observations of everyday life. While the story of how Reid met wife Carol (after being widowed late in life) is so sweet it belongs on Hallmark, his family would argue his inept & smart-ass tendencies belong on a 2020 reboot of Grumpier Old Men.
Mike Madigan died on this day in 2017, on a treacherous stretch of Orange county’s Ortega Highway, two days after Carolyn Marquardt entered Seattle’s Swedish Hospital to begin treatment for a virulent leukemia that would claim her life less than six weeks later. Without any idea of it at the time, Carol and I had already embarked on a journey that would not only eventually bring us together, but to also continue the journey that had once belonged to Mike and Carolyn.
When we live long enough, we live to watch our grandchildren grow through our children and onto a life grandparents would like to think they had something to do with. When you don’t get to live quite long enough, widowhood may ensue, and the widow, the children and the grandchildren live with what is lost and what will be missed by the one who didn’t make it.
Carol has me and I have her now, but we both live every day together knowing the life we continue to live is one reincarnated from one that Mike and Carolyn will not be able to see and experience. Mike will not see his oldest grandchild star in theater and show him her first very own driver’s license. He would not see his oldest grandson win his first junior golf tournament, his then six-year-old grandson lecture a wildlife guide on the behavior of spotted deer, and his youngest granddaughter work a room like no then three-year-old should be able to.
Carolyn did not raise a family, but she would miss knowing even what one day of retirement from a career of more than 43 years would feel like, and would not see with me anyway, the parts of Europe Carol and I have seen together.
Life makes no promises, nor offers any guarantees, except one: death is inevitably part of it, and it means one thing for those who die, but something much more significant for those who live.
But yes, these two would miss some tough times as well. Mike’s business as a private investigator might have nosedived during the covid pandemic. Carolyn would see the airline she’d worked at for four decades slide perilously toward dissolution. On the other hand, their spouses would not have had to find their way through immeasurable grief had they not died, a grief neither one would have wished on their spouse.
Life makes no promises, nor offers any guarantees, except one: death is inevitably part of it, and it means one thing for those who die, but something much more significant for those who live. We don’t merely have to carry on, but to take those we’ve lost along with us. “Mike would have loved to have seen that,” and “Carolyn would so enjoy sleeping in,” are some of the things Carol and I acknowledge that will never happen now.
A pregnant woman eats for two. A widow experiences for two. The great moments in Carol’s and my life are ours to create and experience, but we both carry Mike’s and Carolyn’s memories with us. There is no jealousy. There is a love, though, that is enhanced and enriched by two that have preceded us, and that continues to remind us our happiness and fulfillment has roots. Roots that run amazingly deep and remain nurturing. And ones that don’t die.