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Life without Colleen, Pete O’Farrell’s Journey

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I have been living my new life for just over a year. It is not one that I would have ever chosen, but sometimes you don’t get what you want. My wife Colleen passed away on January 14, 2010 from Triple Negative Breast Cancer. We had an amazing ten years together that I treasure more and more as time passes, but now what? I made a promise to her that our kids would not forget her. One of her greatest fears was that since our children were so young, only four and six at the time, they would grow up not knowing their mom. Even though I sometimes feel like a poor substitute for the real thing I constantly tell them details about Colleen. We listen to her favorite songs, talk about her likes and dislikes, and I let them in on her pet peeves and silly little things that made her so special. Colleen was one of the happiest people I ever met. She found joy in the simple things in life and loved to share that joy with others. I could, at times, be a bit of a homebody, (Any of you that know me are saying, “no way, not you”. But alas, it’s true.) and I am so thankful that Colleen taught me to loosen up and live a little. It’s not easy being a dad, a substitute mom, and the person responsible for keeping alive the memory of an amazing mom. But I need to make sure that our kids have some kind of knowledge of such a great woman. As my children get older I can pass to them more of Colleen’s possessions, but more important right now is passing on her values and her optimism. My measure as to how to handle both my day to day life and any real challenges I face has become simply, “What would Colleen do?” When the kids don’t pick up after themselves, or do a bad job brushing their teeth, (Michael, I’m talking to you!), my first reaction is to let my Irish temper get to work and be upset with them. Lately I have begun to be able to take a step back and wonder how Coll would handle the situation. This usually helps me arrive at a calmer and more sensible resolution. Simple things like that are part of the new me. This self improvement regimen is something I need to do to keep things positive in my home. I can still get crabby with the kids, but I try to emphasize to them that we have to be a team. Without Mom our four man roster has been cut by 25% so we need to work together and help each other out. I am so grateful to Colleen for all that she gave me. Her love for her children, her zest for life, and her bravery were all shining examples for our family and for others as well. As we were happily spending the years we were given, she was unknowingly preparing me for my life without her. I miss you everyday Coll, Love, Pete


Written by Pete O’Farrell

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