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Hope is not just a wish, it’s an act of courage

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Faith and family gave her the strength to go on


A collection of mementos Ches Hudel keeps to remember her husband and son include her wedding rings; son Jimmy’s Cub Scout hat, knife and compass; her husband Bill’s hard hat and fishing lure.


Ches Hudel was 31 when her husband and son died. Bill and Jimmy were on a predawn fishing trip, going to meet friends at the lake, when a train barreled through an unmarked railroad crossing and hit their car.

Ches was left to raise three daughters, the youngest just over a year old.

Somehow, time passed. Life, as it tends to do, went on. This past January, Ches turned 70. Her daughters are now in their 40s. More years have slipped by than numbered her age when Bill and Jimmy were killed.

It’s so simple to relegate time into big chunks. We speak easily of something that happened 10 days ago, six months ago, and, in Ches’ case, 39 years ago.

Yet each simply spoken lump is laden with moments with conversations, with full moons and thunderstorms, with birthdays and holidays, with prayers and homework, with a thousand bowls of cereal and countless walks to the park.

We never forget our loss. But thank God for the human spirit, for its resiliency, for its ability to turn torrents of tears into trickles, laughter into something that no longer feels guilty. We begin allowing ourselves to eat at memory-filled restaurants, to move from the city where our loved ones are buried, even to fall in love again.

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