He is the love of my life. I will never forget the day I got the call that he had passed: May 2nd, 2022.
He was the person who didn’t let any obstacles get in his way. He had dreams, and he was always working to reach them.
Having been paralyzed in a car accident when he was 18, he never let that change his world for the worst. It was the complete opposite. He thrived after his injury. Damn, did he ever. The most amazing, goal-driven human being I’ve ever met.
He is the love of my life. I will never forget the day I got the call that he had passed. May 2nd, 2022. Time no longer feels measurable. It has not been that long, but it feels likes like the weight of years since he was here on this Earth. At the same time, it feels just like the other day that he messaged me “love you with everything” just a few days before he passed.
I would like to talk about our love story. The man I will never forget. You were the biggest and best adventure of my life, Blake Simpson.
I met Blake in 2016 on Facebook, of all places. If you have a spinal cord injury, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when I say you this social media connects you to friends from all over the world who also have chairs. He lived in California, and I was in Michigan at the time. I remember even back then, we clicked fast and started messaging each other a lot. We could talk about what was going on in our lives, gave each other emotional support, and shared a similar sense of humor. We were both goofballs. He was just fun. I looked forward to seeing his posts and ended up getting butterflies when he’d text me. We had developed a bit of a thing. He was starting to get more into WCMX around this time. For those of you who don’t know, that is doing tricks at the skatepark in your wheelchair instead of using a skateboard. He was athletic. He was raised that way, sports were a huge part of his life growing up, and he was a natural. He used to skateboard before he’d gotten injured, and that passion never died when he wasn’t using his legs. It was admirable. He was admirable.
It was beyond our chairs, though, why we clicked. He was someone I’d felt like I’d known longer than I had. I was happy to call him a friend, and we crushed on each other at the same time. We’d wanted to meet up for a ‘Life Rolls on Event’ that was going to be taking place in Venice Beach, California. A very cool skate event where wheelchair users from around the world come together to shred. Unfortunately, it never ended up happening. Life sometimes has a way of happening. People get caught up and go their own way on a different path. That is what happened. He got busy progressing with WCMX, his favorite sport, and I was living my life doing my thing in Michigan.
Fast forward to 2019. I had been keeping up with Blake on social media. I saw that he was not only doing good with WCMX but becoming a superstar with it. He had also really gotten into the fitness world and was in the best shape he’d ever been in. It was inspiring to see him in action on his posts. He was a go-getter, and he was definitely going places. So great to see him thriving in life. He’d come a long way since we’d really talked last. We still had small talk here and there, but nothing like the conversations we used to have in 2016.
I never lost interest in him, though. I will never forget August 14th, the night of my 27th birthday…I got a happy birthday from Blake, and he told me goodnight and that he wanted to talk to me more tomorrow. I had butterflies. Instant. It had been such a long time since we’d talked like that, and it felt like the old bond was coming back. The feeling was right.
Well, one thing led to another, and he ended up flying out to Michigan from California to visit me in September. Never in my life have I ever been so excited to meet someone. I can still feel that excitement, the intense butterflies when I look back. The day he got to my apartment, we hit it off right away. We sat at my kitchen table and just talked and talked.
It felt like I had known him in person much longer than the reality. We talked about our lives. Honestly so much stuff. My home state. WCMX. I had just recently gotten into the skate scene myself, had done my first trick at the park not long before he came to visit, and he thought that was so cool. He was very enthusiastic about that. He was someone I opened up to very easily, and he later ended up telling me he’d never been so comfortable with someone right after meeting them before. He was normally very nervous with new people but didn’t feel that way with me. It warmed my heart to hear. It was a great first time meeting for the both of us. Now…the sad part….
Blake had a serious problem with his gut. He could not digest food right. He had started to be in so much pain all the time after he’d eaten, no matter what he ate. I knew this before he came to visit. We had talked in-depth about how confused he was with his body. He didn’t understand why or how that was happening to him. His quality of life was plummeting. By nature, Blake was so goal-driven. He was someone who was always on the go—always seeking adventure. He always wanted to live his best life. He wanted to make every moment count.
I felt terrible for him, knowing what he was going through. Honestly, I had never heard of anything so awful. It confused me too. He was wondering what could possibly be wrong with him. His struggles with his stomach condition tugged at my heart. I started to care deeply about him fast. That first time he stayed over at my house, he was in so much pain that he had to sleep in his chair and leaned over with his upper body lying on my bed. He could not lay down fully. It was just too painful for his stomach. I remember looking over at him when I’d woken up, and he was shaky, laying there in so much pain. I have never seen anything like that before, and it hurts my heart.
Our first visit wasn’t long, and he ended up flying back home a couple of days after he’d gotten to my house. As much pain as he was in, he couldn’t wait to see me again. We had actually become a couple by the end of that first visit, and it felt right for both of us. We had liked each other for so long; his interest in me had also never changed over the years, so we wanted to start dating, and we did.
He returned to Michigan about a month after, and this time we spent a good three months together at my apartment. He experienced his first-ever brutal Michigan winter. Having never seen snow like that in his life, he was initially excited about it. Then, when it really started to stick, he hated it. I was right there with him. Being stuck indoors for five months most times because of a wheelchair was no way to live. During the months we were at the apartment in Michigan, his stomach issues continued to get worse and worse. So many nights, he’d sleep in his wheelchair with his head on the kitchen counter. The pain levels were increasing, and no matter his diet changes, nothing seemed to make much of a difference. I’ll never forget the night he said it felt hard to breathe because the pain was so bad. We were so close to calling an ambulance. There were a number of intense nights. I’d stay up with him, rub his back, and try to comfort him however I could as he was going through this.
January 2020 came around, and we ended up flying to California to stay with his mom for a bit. Blake’s mom was always there for him, and she had been and always continued to do absolutely everything she could to help him. She is a happy-go-lucky, strong-willed woman who welcomed me into her home as if I was already family. She picked us up from the airport the day we landed in California, and we all went out to dinner together. We had a great time that night, lots of laughs. I could see where Blake’s got his sense of humor.
The reason we went to California was so he could see doctors in his hometown with hopes they could help him figure out what was going on with his stomach. No doctor understood what was going on or why for months. He had ended up getting diagnosed with Gastroparesis, which is the paralysis of the stomach. Off and on, I’d fly to California to visit him at his mom’s house. I was very grateful for her welcoming me into her home. He had also come to visit me twice in Michigan. All the while, he was still in so much pain. Nothing was really getting better. He continued to fight the battle, though, the warrior he was. He would go to the gym and actually introduced me to the gym world. He’d go to the skatepark sometimes with me, sometimes by himself. He continued to live his life the best he could with all the pain, but he was often bedbound.
As time went by, he ended up getting a doctor in Los Angeles at one of the best hospitals in the world, USC, and they, too, were in complete shock by his stomach problems. They said he was the most severe case of Gastroparesis they had ever seen. He was struggling. Big time.
I had one goal and one goal only, to do whatever I could to make him as comfortable as possible. To be there for him and to help in any way. I told him, “I know I can’t take your pain away, and I don’t pretend to think that I can, but I want to be that one thing in your life that goes good. The one thing you can look forward to”. Even though I told him this, there were times he was afraid he’d lose me and worried I’d lose interest as he was becoming more bedbound and not able to do many activities outside of the house or even in the house. I reminded him that his deteriorating health would never make me change my mind about him. I said, “if I left, that means I don’t love you. I love you”. I told him that I loved him for his soul. Who he was deep inside. His strong warrior heart. He was truly remarkable. In so many ways. So wise. And so strong where it mattered most, mentally. It was unconditional love between Blake and me.
In August of 2021, I moved out to California. What a blessing to have found a nice place in town not far from his home. He still needed to stay living at his mom’s since he was becoming more ill by the day. I wanted to be done with temporary visits and turn the long-distance relationship into one where I could be there for him as much as possible. My move across the US was the biggest, boldest and best choice I’ve ever made in my life. I have no regrets coming out here. To this day. Better quality of life in so many ways. My only regret is not living here sooner. I was so happy I’d be around instead of just texts and calls.
After I moved here, his health took a turn for the absolute worse. He ended up getting two pressure sores on his bottom that soon turned to stage 4 ulcers which are the worst you can get. He was home a lot and didn’t come over to my house much at all. Due to his Gastroparesis, he was unable to consume much food at all. He was lucky if he got 300 calories a day. He became malnourished.
The Blake I knew was shriveling up before my eyes. It was beyond sad to see. Never once did I love him any less through all of this. In the last few months of his life, he got sepsis from those horrific ulcers and was admitted to the hospital. He was in and out of the hospital several times. I was very scared for him, not knowing what would happen. I knew he was a fighter, and he’d remain a fighter. The battle was getting terrible, though. A few times, I put gauze sponges over the ulcers where I literally saw his exposed bone, and I had never seen anything so scary in my life.
The love of my life was falling apart. It tore up my heart. I cried right there before him the first time I saw the ulcers in person. It was so sad. When he’d come over to my house or I’d go to his to visit, I tried to take care of him as best I could. He felt so bad we weren’t going out doing things or going on dates, and this would eat at him. He was thinking of me even at his worst. I told him, “presence is the best present of all,” and that it meant the world to me to be there for him.
A few weeks before he passed away, he got moved into a hospital home. Picture a regular house with a hospital setting inside. He had his own room. His own bed. A tv. Access to the backyard if he wanted some fresh air. It was such a good setup for him. He didn’t feel like he was just stuck in the hospital. My heart was happy for him to be in such a place while his body was trying to heal. I told him so the last time I saw him in person, which was on Easter. That day he was lying in his hospital bed. I was sitting in my chair next to the bed, holding his hand. I looked at him and told him, “I can’t wait to start our life together once these sores are healed up, and your gastro doctor helps you manage your stomach pain .”He looked at me with the saddest eyes and said, “yeah, if I can ever feel well enough to actually have a life again .” I told him, “even if Gastroparesis continued to keep you bedbound and the doctors weren’t very successful with managing your pain levels,
I’m not going anywhere. I love you, Blake. We will have a life together no matter what kind of life that is.
He squeezed my hand. That day when I left to go home, he was in so much pain with his stomach that they were close to calling him an ambulance for the emergency room. He turned over onto his side and closed his eyes. Taking deep breaths, I headed out that night so sad, and it was heartbreaking.
A couple of weeks later, I got the worst phone call of my life. News I never expected to hear. Blake had been having seizures and went into cardiac arrest, and he had passed. When I heard that, I could not believe or register what I had just been saying. Blake? Blake Simpson? The one who fought and fought and fought to hang onto life? He was gone? How could this be? I froze emotionally. Here we are, almost two months since that tragic day, and it still doesn’t feel real.
I have been through a lot in my life. I had a lot of hurt in my heart. If you’ve read my previous articles, you’ll be familiar with my life story of how I became paralyzed and my struggles….but nothing compares to what I feel right now. The pain I’ve been feeling as I’m writing this. Losing Blake hurts. Like hell. The grief that comes with losing the love of your life to death… turns your whole world upside down. It makes you feel like you’re trapped in a nightmare you want nothing more than to wake up from. Time freezes, yet it flies by so fast at the same time. I lay awake at night longing to cuddle up with him, and I have to remember we can’t do that anymore. No more hugs, kisses, affection, no conversations. No more waiting for his texts or calls. No new memories are to be made. No more talking about our future together. What we envisioned. The emptiness.
Knowing he is flying as an Angel in Heaven now, I’m here to live this life on Earth and grow old without him. That is the deepest, most intense feeling of sadness I’ve ever experienced in my 29 years.
It is all memories now. At the end of the day, memories are all any of us will have. That, and of course, the most important thing of all, the love in my heart for him that will never go away no matter how much time passes. I wrote Blake a thank you letter, and I’d like to show you all. There is a lot I am so thankful for, even as my heart is shattered into a million pieces.
Thank you for sharing your feelings, desires, and dreams with me. You opened your heart up to me and inspired me in the process. I am so thankful to have been by your side, seeing you continue to thrive in life, whether at the skatepark flying like Peter Pan in your chair or at the gym. Thank you for introducing me to the gym world and for helping me figure out a workout routine. For reminding me that even though lots of this world is not built for us wheelchair users, there is still a way. And there is a way to get results in the gym, even as a paraplegic. You just have to be brave enough to try and see what works for you. I gained so much confidence at the gym with your help. Thank you for helping me realize that nutrition really does matter. My eating habits are much healthier than they were before I met you. You motivated me in so many ways. You encouraged me and showed me that the only one stopping me from becoming the ultimate and best version of myself is that voice in my head that will try to tell me otherwise.
Thank you for inviting me to visit beautiful California with you. Thank you for giving me a reason to finally spread my wings and get out of Michigan for a better quality of life. Thank you for trusting me and being comfortable enough with me so I could be your nurse at times when you needed me. Thank you for taking the time to show me how to care for you the best I could and for being patient with me. It was an honor, never a burden, to do all I could for you. I will look back at those times and forever have a warm heart, knowing I could help you somehow. Thank you for being in my life. I’ve never grown so much as a person in my life as I did with you. Words will never do justice to how much you changed my life.
“Shortly after you passed away, I found out that I got the grant for a skate chair from the Kelly Brush Foundation. I wanted to tell you so bad right away, and I’d told you would be the first to know if I got it. You are the one who wrote my recommendation later, explaining who I was as a person and how that chair could change the quality of my life. You wrote such a beautiful letter. Thank you. I know you are so happy that I am getting this chair. Every time I am at the park, I will think of you. You will shred with me in spirit. Always.
I hope I make you proud with whatever I end up doing with my life. You were so motivated and inspired me to make my life what I never thought it could be.
Yes, as couples do, we had our fair share of ups and downs because no one and life is not perfect, but we worked through it. We never gave up on each other. I would have never left you, as bad as your health declined, and if it would have continued to. I’m so glad you know that your heart is what made me love you. It was never about how you looked or what you could or couldn’t do. Our relationship was real love to the very end and beyond. You are still with me. Everyday. In my heart. That is where you will stay.
When I see you again, your health will be 100 percent. We will no longer be paralyzed. No more health concerns whatsoever… “see you later” will no longer exist. Things will be what they could never have been here on Earth for us. Beautiful and eternal life full of health and love. I love you. So much. I will look forward to reuniting with you again one day for the rest of my time here.
All of my love. Rest In Peace, Blake Simpson.
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