For Chris Martin, life had worked out exactly as planned. He met a woman named Renee, fell in love, and began to build a life with his new wife. Chris got everything he'd dreamed of in life until one day, tragedy turned it all upside down.
The loss of a loved one is never easy and the healing process has no set timeline. That process was made even more difficult when Chris discovered a lost email that reopened all his wounds. Read on to see what secret Renee was keeping from her husband the entire time.
There Wasn't A Spark When The Pair First Met
Chris Martin was in his twenties when he first met Renee. The Melbourne, Australia native was single at the time and looking to put himself out into the dating game. One of his good friends introduced him to a cousin named Renee. Unfortunately, they didn't hit it off.
Chris went on to see other people as he navigated the world of dating. Getting married and starting a family was likely the least of his concerns—after all, he had to find a lady first. It would take revisiting the past for Chris to get to his future.
The Spark Finally Came
After their first meeting, Chris and Renee would occasionally see each other in casual situations until one day, they ran into each other at a party. Whatever spark was missing at their initial meeting somehow ignited itself at this party.
It was there that they found themselves drifting away from the music and the other people to be alone and really get to know each other. That night, one thing led to another and the two shared their first kiss. It was all downhill from there.
They Were In Love
It didn't take long for Chris and Renee to fall in love. From that point on, it seemed that they were perpetually in the honeymoon phase and nothing could go wrong. All the time they spent together, every laugh, and every kiss made everything feel like it was meant to be.
It was a stark contrast from when they were first introduced all those years ago. They remained in the honeymoon phase until the very end.
They Married And Started A Family
Considering how much their relationship blossomed, it was only a matter of time before they decided to make things official and tie the knot. Their wedding ceremony was gorgeous and they had a lot to look forward to in their marriage.
Within a few years, they welcomed a baby girl named Grace. By 2011, they discovered that they would be growing their family once again when Renee found out she was pregnant with a baby boy. It seemed at the time that their joy was endless.
The News That Turned Everything Upside Down
Chris and Renee were riding high off the joyful news of their second bundle of joy until one day, they weren't. Not long into her pregnancy, Renee heard some terrible news from her doctor.
It turned out that while her baby boy was growing inside her, Renee also had kidney cancer. The news came as a crushing blow to her and Chris, who not only had to grapple with the gravity of what this meant for her health but also had to find a way to explain this to their daughter Grace, who was six by that time.
They Had To Tell Their Daughter
"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, and if we couldn't that meant that mummy's body wouldn't be able to live anymore and she'd die," Chris told ABC Radio Melbourne.
They decided to dub Renee's cancer "germs in mum's belly" in order to shield Grace from the truth about cancer. As young as she was, they didn't want her to have to hear about the ways cancer affects people's lives. "At the tender age of six, it's not something you contemplate," said Chris.
A Devastating Loss
Renee went on to give birth to their son Albi the same year she received her diagnosis. While raising a newborn and caring for a six year old, she now also had to deal with cancer treatments and the crippling uncertainty of her future.
Two years later in 2013, Renee lost her battle to kidney cancer. She was only 39. Chris lost the love of his life. Still, he had to keep it together enough to let Grace and Albi know that they just lost their mother.
Chris Was Thrust Into Single Parenthood
Heartbroken and filled with grief, Chris couldn't spend too much time wallowing over Renee's passing. Not only was he a widow, but he was also now a single dad. He was left alone to raise his two young children on his own and had to put up a strong front to nurture them.
Chris supported Grace and Albi through whatever grief they felt but deep down, he was still grappling with his own. As a newly single parent of two young kids—who was also grieving—it's understandable that he was lost and upset.
Juggling Emotions And Responsibilities
Only parents who've been in Chris's situation can attest to how trying those first couple months, or even years, are on the surviving parent. "It's that whole journey of grief. Trying to be a mum, trying to be a dad at the same time, and also trying to process your own feelings and emotions," he said.
"It's a daily struggle for me to try and wear both hats and [recognize] which one I should be at the right time." Chris was still trying to heal, both for his kids and for himself, but he also needed to be their parent.
Times Were Tough When He Missed Her
Soon after the loss of Renee, Chris had to take on all of her parenting duties in addition to what he already did as their father. The job of a single parent is a busy one and Chris rarely had time to ruminate on his feelings, especially when he missed Renee.
"I obviously miss a lot, well, nearly everything to do with having Renee in my life. I miss the companionship, the shared load, the daily debrief. Those little moments in life are the things you tend not to think about but they're the things you miss the most," he said.
His Kids Helped Him Pull Through
But while single parent duties certainly added a lot to his plate, it was his kids that also helped him through the toughest times. "Luckily for us it was a long journey through cancer and I think maybe subconsciously [the kids] got an idea of how things were tracking," he said.
"To be honest, if it hadn't have been for the kids, I don't know where I'd be at this stage. They really helped me through the whole thing." After all, he still got to hug his kids and see their smiling faces that looked so much like Renee.
His Kids Taught Him How To Live In The Present
While Chris was worried so much over how he was going to handle life moving forward as a widowed single parent, it was his kids that taught him the valuable lesson of focusing on the present, rather than the future.
"Kids live so much in the present, they deal with emotions and thoughts and everything in the moment... I was a bit put off at the start, and as time has gone on since we lost Renee these two kids have taught me so much about living in the now and not worrying about the what ifs and what could be's," he said.
Chris Coped With His Grief In His Blog
Despite having the support of his kids, as well as friends and family, it's understandable that there are some emotions that continued to swell in Chris's soul. He needed a place to vent and let it all out.
In 2016, three years after Renee passed away, Chris decided to start his own personal blog called Just a Dad. Chris used his blog as an outlet for his own self-therapy and also to keep friends and family up-to-date on how he and the kids were holding up. But as it would turn out, Just a Dad turned into a safe space for support as well.
Things Started To Get Easier
As the days wore on, Chris continued to write while raising his and Renee's kids in her absence. He obviously never let a day pass where he didn't think about her and tried to keep her memory alive, especially for the kids.
Things started to feel better for Chris, despite the gaping Renee-sized hole in their family. He started to get the hang of being a single parent and it definitely helped that he now had an outlet with his blog. It seemed that he would be able to move forward with his life.
Time Heals All Wounds – Or Does It?
Chris kept on with his blog over the next few years. It took quite some time but before he knew it, he was actually smiling again. Chris focused on the happy and rewarding aspects of raising his kids, hoping that he was making Renee proud.
Things started to feel so much lighter, in fact, that days would pass and he didn't feel sad about Renee's absence anymore. Of course, it didn't last long. One day in 2018, everything felt as if it all going to come crashing down on him.
The Discovery That Shook Him
In 2018, something happened to Chris that made him question everything, including his feelings about Renee. He wrote about what happened in a blog post from February 2018 titled "Mourning Guilt."
"I was logged into Renne's email trying to find some information," Chris wrote. Regardless of whatever information Chris was trying to find, he was "simply skimming the contents" when he came across something that made him stop in his tracks. He couldn't believe what he was reading.
Renee Was Keeping A Secret
What Chris found was an email chain between Renee and Chris's side of the family. "My usually un-sneaky wife (she couldn't hide a secret for the life of her) was conspiring with my family about my 40th birthday celebrations back in 2014," Chris wrote.
Chris was dumbfounded. Even as cancer was taking over Renee's life, she still found the strength and love within her heart to do something wonderful for her husband. All the grief that Chris thought he was rid of suddenly came rushing in.
Renee Cared A Lot About Her Husband
"I found some humbling and beautiful words she had written about me and what I meant to her. It was as if I could hear her voice, something I haven't heard for so long, in the words printed on the screen before me," Chris wrote.
Though Chris didn't divulge exactly what Renee had written about her husband, one can be certain that the words came from the heart. Chris could see just how much Renee loved him and just how much he really meant to her. As heartwarming as it was, it suddenly made Chris feel terrible.
He Was Overcome With A "Dreadful Hollowness"
While reading all the loving words that his wife wrote about him, all the emotions that Chris managed to suppress in the years since Renee passed suddenly came to the surface.
"And it floored me – in more ways than one. I felt humbled by her endearing words. I was overcome by the same desperate sadness I remember so vividly after she passed. I immediately felt the dreadful hollowness of being alone, of never being able to have exactly what I once did, again. The dears flowed and I felt terribly guilt course through every [fiber]," Chris confessed.
Chris Felt Incredibly Guilty
Right after Renee passed away, Chris thought that he would never be able to move on with is life now that his wife was no longer there to share it with him. Even though he found relief in raising his kids with the help of his blog, he didn't realize that those feelings of grief could suddenly come back in an instant.
What's worse, he couldn't even fathom that while he was learning to get over his loss, his wife's enduring love would come back to remind him of everything that they had gone through. He couldn't help but feel guilty.
He Couldn't Believe He'd Lost The Feeling
When someone experiences a loss, you'd want them to be able to find relief from their grief one day. It did happen for Chris eventually but as he read Renee's emails, immense guilt began swelling inside him.
"Guilt that I hadn't thought of 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 wasn't upset until I read the words. Guilt that I'm here and not her," Chris confessed on his blog post.
Chris Needed To Process His Guilt
Chris vented to his readers in an effort to confront his guilt. "Now I know that grief is a journey without end... there are commonalities in everyone's journey, and guilt is definitely one of them," he writes.
"And like everything else in life, it too passes... But it serves as a reminder – like a hammer to my kneecap type reminder, that there is more to losing a loved on than the anticipated sadness, loneliness and longing. That there are no answers, no solutions or no ways to manipulate the grief journey."
Chris Was Grateful That It Happened
Chris was feeling guilty over the fact that he hasn't thought of his love for Renee and the love that they shared when she was still alive. He was too busy trying to move through his grief and trying to raise their kids, so it's no wonder that his feelings of love were put on the back burner.
"For now, however, in a weird kinda way I'm glad it happened. It's comforting to know I still care. It feels good to connect with deep emotions, to acknowledge things I perhaps have ignored lately in lieu of more superficial pursuits," he wrote.
Chris Had To Thank His Late Wife
When he had a chance to write out what was going through his mind, Chris was able to sort out his emotions and reassure himself that he was still going to be okay. Before he signed off on his post, he wrote a message to his wife.
"Even writing this all down has been cathartic and I feel lighter already. So I guess I should say thanks Renee, still helping me out after all these years," he said finally.
A Way To Cleanse And Heal
Chris channeled his grief into his blog, which actually ended up connecting him with so many other single parents—especially single dads—who also felt completely lost after the loss of their loved ones. With every post that he writes, Chris wants to reassure parents that it's okay to feel vulnerable, even if you're the one who has to keep it together for the family.
He added, "And contrary to popular belief, guys do like a good old sob every now and then, even if they don't admit it. It's cleansing. Healing. Normal."