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“His last words to me, ‘I love you’.” A story of great love and loss

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It’s an extremely tough time of year for Robin Tolsma. February 12th is the anniversary of her husband’s death. Darren was killed in the crash of flight 3407. That was 10 years ago.

As we prepare to celebrate love this Valentine’s Day – there’s something that Robin wants everyone to know: there’s nothing like a good love story; even when it includes profound loss.

Because the truth is – not all love stories have a ‘happily ever after’.

Robin says when she thinks about great love stories, she often thinks of her own with her husband, Darren, “I met him on a blind date when I was 17. The first time I laid eyes on him I knew I was going to marry him; and I did when I was 21.”

Theirs was a story of devotion and adoration. Darren went to Robin’s high school prom with her. They did everything together.

They always had fun together. She says it was amazing, “Our life became complete after the births of our son and daughter. We were, by all accounts, a very happy family. We always said I love you, and until the kids were in school, we tagged along on every business trip with him. We were in love and we had a fairy tale marriage and family.”

But, unlike the stories in books, theirs ended much too soon. On February 12, 2009, Robin lost the love of her life in the crash of flight 3407.  She was devastated beyond measure. But, she eventually figured out that she had the power to write her own story, “I lost the love of my life. BUT, our love never died; it changed.”



Robin tells me that she was fortunate to receive Darren’s wedding ring back after the crash. The inscription says ‘forever 8-29-86’  Robin’s says ‘Fver’ because she was in a car accident and needed it cut off her finger. When they welded it back together, the inscription was a bit off. It became quite the story, “We always joked that we would love each other Fver”

She reminds all of us that true love never dies, “I talk to him often and although I can’t hear him, I close my eyes and think of Darren smiling at me when he caught me dancing while cleaning, and I remember his last words to me, ‘I love you’.” My heart will always have his love.”

Robin says this year – she has a bit of a new way of thinking, “We are all blessed by the people in our lives. Whether it be a day or a lifetime spent with someone we loved, our lives are better because they were in our lives. I don’t want to remember how people died anymore but rather how they lived and how they loved. Life is so precious and I know I was blessed to have Darren in my life. Yes I wish it was longer but the time we had was beautiful and will always warm my heart. So, even today, death and grief are teaching me lessons in love.”


Mary Friona

3 thoughts on ““His last words to me, ‘I love you’.” A story of great love and loss

  • Kerry O'Brien

    Beautiful story Mary. Marriage is not always easy but stories Iike this remind me to be thankful for every day. ❤

  • Dana

    So true and so beautiful. I lost my husband 3 years ago, when I was 35. Our precious girl lost her father at 4 years old. It has taken me a while to believe and accept his loss. It was only then that I learned to cope with the loss. True love never dies. I am fortunate to see our love in our daughter. In the way the way she looks, her features reflect her father, the way she acts, the way she loves both her father and me. If only it was for a short period in my life, I was fortunate to have met the love of my life and been given the gift of our daughter.

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