Healing My Heart Through Action
My fly fishing story begins a little less than 10 years ago after my husband passed away. My first love, Tony, was a huge part of my life because we grew up together and fell in love at a very young age. We met in junior high school at 12 years old, started "going out" at 13, moved in together at 22, and got married at 27. He passed away tragically and suddenly in November 2009 when we were both 31 years old. It was impossible for me to imagine a life without him.
After we got married, Tony told me about fishing with his dad as a child and wanted to get back into it. I got him a spin rod & reel and a tackle box full of lures for his birthday and off he went. It was his happy place, his own thing that he did either alone or with his friends. I was never really interested in joining. Over the years he began talking about fly fishing, he wanted to try it out. I saw an opportunity when he broke his spin rod late in the season during 2009 and secretly planned to buy him a new fly rod for Christmas… but he was gone by Thanksgiving.
That first year was the worst. You hear it all the time, "the first year is the hardest." It really is. When he died, I made a pact with myself that I would do everything in my power to make myself happy again. I would want him to do the same and I knew it was up to me to make it happen. The first several weeks, I struggled to get out of bed and start a new routine. I found new things I missed about him almost daily - all the things I took for granted, all the little things.
I had an amazing group of people surrounding me with love and support and couldn't have gotten through that time without them. The friends who lived nearby became a huge part of my healing journey… They were the ones I called late at night whenever I couldn't bear the thought of sleeping alone in my house.
The summer following his death, I began fishing using his tackle box and whatever fishing things of his I could find. I wanted to connect with him in a new way and begin to heal my heart. My girls already fly fished and let me tag along, so I watched them, learned from them, and became inspired by them. My mom got me a starter rod and I ran to the river. The catharsis I found there changed me - when you're on the river, you're involved with everything around you and can find such peace in the cast, the river, the air, the fish.
Even though I fly fished whenever I could, I never thought much about the fly fishing industry. I didn't read articles about fly fishing women or gear for women because I had my own little group in this awesome girl-power bubble. We would go to the fly shop to get flies for that day and head up to the river. There was never much beyond that for me.
It wasn't until I actually wanted to buy new gear that I found how limiting it was for women. I got so frustrated that I couldn't find waders that fit right or that I didn't know where to go to ask anyone. All my friends had men's waders, so that's what I got. The waders didn't go over my boobs. I started researching and discovered this amazing subculture of women trying to change the industry with innovative women's gear, groups, ideas... disrupting the status quo.