Steph’s FitCulture was a long-time dream of mine, yet the story I am about to share never crossed my mind. It’s the type of story that you hear about in movies, but you never imagine it happening to you. Although, it may stray away from my normal topics (i.e. health, fitness, plant-based living, anti-aging), it is relevant to living your best life so here it goes…
To lay it all out for you, I need to do the impossible and go back in time. More than seven years ago I was married to my best friend, my rock, and the father of my four children. At the time, my kids were 8, 11, 16, and 19 year’s old. In every way, he was an outstanding father and an amazing human being. Physically, he was never sick. I mean, seriously, never even a cold, a flu, a headache, or even a hangover. Like nothing! It was crazy and in my eyes, defied logic; honestly, it secretly pissed me off because there were many things wrong with his diet. “That shit will kill you” slipped out of my mouth consistently, yet he ate what he wanted. I had spent the better part of my life studying nutrition and regardless of his marriage to a crazy, vegan, health fanatic, his diet was bad.
His 50th birthday landed on Super Bowl Sunday. His two favorite teams, the Seahawks and the Bronco’s, went head to head for a very exciting game. We spent this monumental day at the Wynn Las Vegas to commemorate his big day and watch the big game. As he ordered two platters of fried buffalo style chicken wings, he cheekily looked at me and said “do not say a word, it’s my birthday and Super Bowl Sunday so I don’t want to hear about how bad wings are for me.” I quietly obliged as I snacked on the carrot and celery sticks that came with the wings (he certainly was not going to eat them). That was fine…I think balance is good and this blog post isn’t about how bad chicken wings are..I will save that for another time.
That day was February 2, 2014. Two days later, on February 4, 2014, he died of a massive heart attack in our home. He was working out and had a “widow maker,” which is one of those heart attacks that come with little warning and kill you almost immediately. My 16-year old daughter went into the garage (our make-shift home gym) to say good night to him and found him lying on the ground. Her screaming sent me and the rest of the kids running into the garage to see what had warranted her blood curdling shrill. Death is not peaceful looking. It is purple, cold, and very terrifying; it is especially shocking when it happened to a relatively young man who had a physical only a few months prior to his passing. There was nothing out of the ordinary or concerning in his bloodwork or test in October of 2013.
Needless to say, we hadn’t expected him to die and we were not prepared…nor organized..and certainly did not have our “affairs in order.” That is the moral of my story and the reason I am sharing my experience with you. Spouses and significant others sometimes unexpectedly die or hastily decide they no longer want to be married. While you can’t control these sort of life circumstances, it is important to set yourself up in such a way to minimize the carnage of such a life altering event!
When Kurt passed away, I couldn’t even qualify for a credit card!! Every bit of credit had been established in his name. Even every utility bill was in his name. So, when I moved a few months after he died, I had to put down a deposit for San Diego Gas & Electric and my sister had to put our cable bill in her name. During the hardest time of my life, where I was supposed to be healing myself and my family I was left with feelings of humiliation and frustration. Since, I had never established an account with these utilities and had no credit history, this was my new reality. Although not destitute (I thankfully had some assets), I was still in my 40s and unable to get a credit card, a mortgage, a car loan, or even establish an account for electricity without putting down a deposit. At the time of my husband’s passing, we had sold our house and were renting while we looked for land to build our dream home. He was a real estate developer and an architect; basically, he was a one man show and with his passing went our income. When I tried to apply for a credit card, my only option was a Capital One card where I had to give a $900 deposit for a credit line of $1,100. Renting a house with no credit history was equally challenging. I have not shared this story before because I was embarrassed and already had enough sympathy from friends and family that I couldn’t admit the gravity of my situation or how incredibly hard it was for me in so many ways.
It took me many years to get my credit score to an acceptable level, but seven years later, I am finally buying a house and qualified for a mortgage. So, my message to anyone reading this is… please set yourself up in a way that you’d be able to care for yourself. You should put bank accounts, mortgages, credit cards in your name and share the credit to the furthest extent possible. Sometimes it’s easier to have your significant other (the provider) put everything in their name because they qualify for it more easily. News flash…shit happens. You need to be prepared.
Ok..I promise from here on out I will mostly share with you ways to live a healthy, youthful, and awesome life. But of course there must be a few life lessons sprinkled in there because I’ve had a few.
Wow – thank you for sharing this! It matters and your story is so impactful to so many. Thank you so much for stepping out and making the world a better place. I admire you and respect you more today (which seems impossible since I hold you in such high regard). Cheers to you – and thank you! Xoxoxo
Thank you for sharing this powerful story and being vulnerable enough to relive and write about it. It is impactful and I admire your courage and drive to continue to be and do better. Love ya!
Hi Steph. I am so happy to call you a friend. At the time when your husband past away your sweet son was in my daughters class. Although I didn’t really even know you at the time. I would see you almost everyday a Pilates ( pre you owning ). I remember seeing Chase in the class the very next day . I was shocked . Somehow you manage to keep your kids above water while I’m sure it must of felt like you were sinking . I never heard the entire story until now. You are such an inspiration to me. Now you own one just on bodyrok , but a few . You are kind, forgiving and easy going . Not to mention impeccable taste and a solid business women which no one would of ever known you had no credit . Somehow you did it . Thank you for sharing that time in your life.