Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

Right Now, Okay is the Best Answer I Have

Sunday, September 1, 2013
Posted By: 
Julie Steele

Today, we welcome guest blogger, Julie Steele.  Julie's husband passed away from cancer 19 months ago after battling the disease two previous times.  Julie lives in Wheaton with her three children, ages 20, 18 and 8.  Thank you for your contribution, Julie!

I recently talked to my husband’s aunt.  Someone I felt very close to since my marriage. She was the only sibling of my mother-in-law.  My mother-in-law passed 10 years ago and since her death, my husband and I grew really close to this aunt.  We visited two or three times a year despite her distance (she lives 6 hours away in summer, 18 hours in winter).   My children have formed a bond, enough so that my son would spend two weeks in the summer to help her and her husband with their farming.   We were tight. 

Then, 19 months ago, my husband died.  It was his third battle with cancer.  He was victorious the other two times.  We hoped for a third.  We were not as lucky this time.  He passed away on a Sunday and we set the visitation and funeral for 6 days later so that family from a distance had time to travel.  We were blessed.  Many of our family attended but the aunt that we were so close to said she did not have enough time to get there. 

I want to be the bigger person.  I want to be the one who understands and forgives.  It hurt my heart that she did not attend.  Her own two children did spend two days here despite their farming chores. 

I was wanting to put it behind me but was reminded again recently when she said to me, “When I ask how you are, you never say fine anymore.  You just say, Okay.”  Truly, "okay" is the happiest face I can put on right now. 

I lost the love of my life that I was blessed to be married to just shy of 25 years; the man who was the father to my three children.  The man who understood me like no one else ever had. 

By definition, fine means “Being in a state of satisfactory health; quite well”.  I don’t think I can be consistently “quite well” for a long time.  Yes, I have great moments with my children and family.  But being in a state of quite well?  I have a long way to go. 

I think many people who have not walked our journey do not understand.  I feel that they expect that after a year, all the healing is done.  What they do not understand is we get scabs that help us go on each day.   But what they don’t realize is that the scabs can be torn off at a memory, an event, or a familiar sensation.  Then the pain is just as raw as the initial injury.  The best we can hope for is a new scab will take its place. 

I would love to say to this aunt, “Okay is good.  Fine is a goal.  I am on a journey that has many paths, some forward, some backward and some that just lead in a circle.  Perhaps at the end, fine will be there.  Until then, Okay is the best I have……”


I don't want to be miserable, so I've struggled so hard to say "I'm fine." Maybe too hard. Now people really don't understand why I'm "ok" or "not so good". I think that people who have never gone through it, think that things will just get better each day. Not the case for me..... Thank you for writing this!

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