October 26, 2021

A Different Kind of Transformation : A Guest Post

It doesn't feel right calling this a "Transformation Tuesday" post, although the email I received from a reader named Amy started out that way. Amy is self-admittedly "obsessed with pumpkins" and she has shared Transformation Tuesday photos before of the pumpkins she and her husband, Phil, planted. I'm not talking about just a few pumpkins, either--they literally grew hundreds!


I couldn't view the photos on Amy's email, so I asked her to try sending them a different way. The response I got was like a punch in the stomach--it totally took my breath away. I told her I would hold off on posting until she wanted to share (if she still wanted to). She wrote this beautiful post to share here...



My Transformation Tuesday started out being about pumpkins; a pumpkin quilt I’d recently made, and the hundreds of pumpkins my husband Phil and I grew together this past summer.  When I first submitted it for Katie’s consideration on September 14th, I had no idea how much my life was about to transform in a shocking and tragic way.

On September 15th, Phil was on his way home from an overnight bike camping trip in the mountains with a friend. They were going downhill at about 25mph when he hit a patch of gravel or sand in the road and lost control of his bicycle. He struck a guard rail and was killed. Ambulance services were able to revive him and get a heartbeat for a time, but it didn’t last.

There are many things about that day I’ll never forget. I was brushing my teeth when I got the call and had to spit to answer the phone. At that point they had a heartbeat and told me to head to the hospital, but I had no idea what I was walking into. In the car on the way there, the worst place my mind went was to a head injury or even paralysis. I was contemplating whether it would be possible to renovate our home to accommodate a wheelchair ramp.

At the hospital they led me into a room near the ER, but no one was rushing around and I found it eerily quiet. This is when I began to get a very bad feeling. The doctor came in and started explaining a whole timeline of things – first this happened and we tried that, but got no response. Then they transported him from there to here in the air ambulance, and there was no response. Then he got here and we tried this other thing, and there was still no response.

The more he talked, the more heavy my breathing became. I was wearing a mask – one I’d sewn, with pumpkins on it of course – and I could see it puffing in and out, faster and faster with every breath. Finally I cut him off and just blurted, “Is he gone?!”

“Yes, he’s gone”, the doctor said.

In the days and weeks since, a lot has happened. First I had to call his parents, the two worst phone calls of my life. Later that day I had to make decisions and answer questions about organ and tissue donation. I had to decide about cremation services and first refuse and then embrace the idea of some kind of memorial service.

I buried myself in plans for a celebration of life that I held at our home in Colorado, which took place on October 10th. There were pumpkins everywhere, hundreds of the ones we’d grown together spread all over the tables, tent, deck, porch, and even inside the house. Seventy-five people came from across the country to honor and remember Phil.


The day was a blur for me, made all the more strange by how closely it resembled our wedding. A tent, outdoors, on a golden Fall day. Speeches by beloved friends and family. A craft cocktail bar. Music. I sent pumpkins home with everyone.

There is a tradition in the cycling community that when a cyclist dies or is killed on the road, friends and family often place a “ghost bike” in their memory. A ghost bike is a stripped-down bicycle painted white, often left near the scene of an accident as a remembrance of the person who is gone.

Phil’s Dad and friends placed in ghost bike a in late September, but I couldn’t go. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to handle seeing it. However, I did send a pumpkin there with a dear friend on the day of the memorial, a small white one that was Phil’s favorite.


It is difficult to contemplate the scope of just how much Phil’s death has and will continue to transform my life; not just my daily life now, but the ideas and plans I had about what the rest of my life would look like. No marriage is perfect but we were really damn lucky; we were best friends and partners and I truly feel like half of me is gone. It is all I can do to get through one day at a time.

I do not know much about what the future will hold, but I know a few things. I will stay here in Colorado, in this home we chose and were happy in. I will eventually spread his ashes somewhere in the mountains, in a beautiful and peaceful spot with a nice view. And next Spring, I will plant pumpkins.

19 comments:

  1. Amy this is so beautifully written. You will always have Phil in your heart. Do whatever you need during this time. Thank you for sharing with this community. We are now honored to know a little bit about your sweet angel.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Amy, that was so brave of you to share this with all of us. Hugs to you fellow Runs for Cookies reader.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Amy, I'm so very sorry about Phil. May your memories bring you comfort. ❤️

    ReplyDelete
  4. Amy I am so very sorry. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I will hug my family extra hard today. Sending you hugs too.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Amy, I am so very sorry. You are a gifted storyteller. I know it wasn’t easy for you for to share this vulnerable story. I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for sharing this with us, Amy. I am so sorry about Phil. Love and light to you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Amy, I am so sorry you are going through this incredibly difficult time. May you find peaceful days ahead.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wow this is beautifully written. I am so sorry about the passing of your beloved Phil. This genuinely brought a tear to my eye. Hold the memories close, he will never be forgotten. I so thank you for taking the time to share your story <3

    ReplyDelete
  9. What a powerful post. Amy I am so sorry about your loss. My husband is my best friend too. I can't even wrap my head around this. You are in my prayers.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am so sorry for your loss.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story - I can't imagine it was easy to write and share. I hope you find comfort with the happy memories you have and every pumpkin you see brings warmth to your heart.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Love you, Amy. This was beautifully written and expressed.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I am so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing with us. May his spirit fly high and your heart know peace.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh sweetheart. I'm so sorry. No words. Sending lots of love.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Amy, I'm so sorry for the tragic loss of your husband. I'm glad you have these recent photos of both of you. I admire your plan to plant pumpkins again next year!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Amy-My deepest condolences to you. You're a brave, strong woman and you will get through this one step at a time. Thank you for sharing your story here and god bless.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you for sharing your story! Sending love and prayers to you from this Colorado sister.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I am so sorry for your loss.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I'm so very sorry - I wish I knew something better to say but I know nothing can make this better right now. All the love and prayers and positive thoughts in the world coming your way.

    ReplyDelete

Feel free to leave a comment! I had to turn on comment moderation due to a ton of spam comments, but I will approve your comment ASAP.

Featured Posts

Blog Archive