Single Dad Thought He’d Moved On From His Late Wife Before Unearthing This Email

Most of us tend to imagine our lives going a certain way. We think we’ll fall in love, land a fun job with a killer salary, and maybe start a family. But when the sometimes-cruel world doesn’t let us have it our way, we have to re-adjust — adapt.

By the late 2000s, Australia’s Chris Martin had just about everything he could’ve wanted — until an unpredictable tragedy skidded his life’s plans to a halt. And as he adapted to a new life, he uncovered a lost email that reopened a healing wound he never saw coming…

When he was in his early twenties, Chris Martin from Melbourne, Australia, was single. Hoping to launch him into the dating game, Chris’s good friend introduced him to a cousin named Renee. The two did not click.

Chris Martin / Facebook

Years after the introduction, however, after more than a handful of casual meetings, Chris and Renee ended up at the same party. It was there, hidden away from the thrum of music and the chattering of friends, that the two kissed for the first time.

Chris Martin / Facebook

Soon, the two were in love, and fully in the beautiful honeymoon phase. Every moment was exciting, every touch, beautiful. But for them, the phase never ended, and in just a few years, they made the ultimate commitment.

Chris Martin / Facebook

The two wed in a beautiful ceremony, and within years, they were raising a baby girl named Grace. In 2011, the couple delighted in the news that Renee was pregnant once more, this time with a boy. The honeymoon continued…

Chris Martin / Facebook

…until doctors delivered the bad news. Renee had kidney cancer and in the span of a doctor’s sentence, the couple went from planning their family to planning how to tell their six-year-old daughter that mom was very sick.

“I remember the day telling Grace that we didn’t know whether we were going to be able to beat the germs in mum’s belly,” Chris said. “If we couldn’t that meant that mummy’s body wouldn’t be able to live anymore and she’d die.”

Chris Martin / Facebook

The conversation was impossible both in its weight and its complexity, yet it paled in comparison to the 2013 conversation Chris had with his now-two children (Albi was born in 2011): at just 39 years old, their mother was dead.

Chris Martin / Facebook

Devastated and single again, Chris pulled himself together for his kids. But trying to be both a mother and a father for them — while processing his own confusion and grief — nearly drove the dad to insanity.

Renee Martin / Facebook

“I miss the companionship, the shared load, the daily debrief,” he recalled. “Those little moments in life are the things you tend not to think about, but they’re the things you miss the most.” He knew he needed a way to heal.

The kids helped. They gave him a purpose beyond himself, and more importantly, kept him focused on the present — not that hopeless, Renee-sized void staring at him from the future. But he needed something else. He needed a place to bear his soul.

So three years after Renee’s death, the Australian native started a blog — “Just a Dad.” One part self-therapy, one-part explanation to his family and friends. The blog helped single dads everywhere cope with loss and grief.

Just a Dad / Facebook

Chris wrote and raised his kids, trying to build a functioning home with a crucial piece missing. He never forgot Renee, but as the years passed, perhaps the exact sound of her voice faded to a fragment of a memory.

Just a Dad / Facebook

Time and writing ever-so-weakly stitched the wound of Renee’s passing, and slowly, Chris found happiness in raising his kids — he could smile again. That was, until 2018, when he faced yet another impossible moment in the grieving process.

Just a Dad / Facebook

Chris chronicled that moment in a 2018 blog post titled Mourning Guilt. “I was logged into Renee’s email trying to find some information,” the dad wrote. “I was simply skimming the contents when I found something…”

In this particular email chain, Renee had been conspiring with Chris’s family about a surprise 40th birthday party she planned to throw for him in 2014. Even dying of cancer, she had still been thinking of celebrating her husband.

Just a Dad / Facebook

What, exactly, Renee wrote about her husband, Chris kept to himself. Those were personal words he would cherish forever. But he shared that she’d so beautifully written about how much he meant to her. 

Chris Martin / Facebook

“It was as if I could hear her voice,” Chris wrote. “Something I haven’t heard for so long, in the words printed on the screen before me.” As he read, every emotion Chris had held back and suppressed over five years returned.

Chris Martin / Facebook

“I was overcome by the same desperate sadness I remember so vividly after she passed,” he wrote. “I immediately felt the dreadful hollowness of being alone, of never being able to have exactly what I once did, again.” He continued…

Chris Martin / Facebook

“The tears flowed and I felt terrible guilt,” he wrote. “Guilt that I hadn’t thought or felt these things for some time. Guilt that I had seemingly forgone these feelings in the pursuit of normality and, dare I say it, happiness…Guilt that I’m here and not her.”

Chris Martin / Facebook

For his readers, Chris confronted that guilt. “Like everything else in life, it too passes,” he wrote. “But it serves as a reminder – like a hammer to my kneecap type reminder, that there is more to losing a loved one than the anticipated sadness, loneliness and longing.”

“There are no answers,” he added. “No solutions or no ways to manipulate the grief journey. It just has to happen. However it pans out, I just have to trust that I’ll be okay…It’s comforting to know I still care.”

Chris Martin / Facebook

Before Chris posted his blog, he gave one last thank you to the woman he so dearly loved. “Even writing this all down has been cathartic and I feel lighter already,” he wrote. “So I guess I should say thanks, Renee, for still helping me out after all these years.”

Chris Martin / Facebook

Chris’s dance with grief connected so many other suffering single fathers who were lost without their passed-on partners. By sharing his story, he hoped to show men that it’s okay to be vulnerable after a loss. “It’s cleansing. Healing. Normal.”

Just a Dad / Facebook

To feel such a strong connection to his late wife five years after her passing must’ve been beyond painful for Chris. But something tells us he cherished the moment anyway.

Share this single father and his journey with your friends below.

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