Heartbreak

After Tragically Losing My Husband, I Found Hope Again In Africa

Photo: Courtesy of Author, alephx01 | Canva
Author with a face mask on with coffee beans

My life changed forever on November 18, 2018. In late October, my husband Dave and I had just finished a 50-mile mountain bike race through the White Mountains of Arizona. As a former firefighter, lifelong cyclist, runner, and triathlete at the top of his game, he finished hours before me, his free beer long gone by the time I arrived at the finish line. 

I could have never guessed what transpired a few months later. Within days of the race, we were off to spend two weeks in Costa Rica. It was going to be the next chapter in our adventurous life together, filled with beaches, jungles, sloths, and Toucans. But before we left for the airport, Dave was not feeling well. He chalked it up to post-race fatigue exacerbated by the fact that he was 53.

It quickly became abundantly clear that he had more than just his age and fatigue from the race affecting him as he became sicker and sicker over the next two weeks. There were some days during our trip when he was too sick to move, and I began to realize something was seriously wrong. 

On November 18, 2018, Dave was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a deadly form of brain cancer. After two successful surgeries, we returned to our normal, healthy life for a while until the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Dave’s glioblastoma returned. 

RELATED: 15 Healthy Ways To Mourn When Someone You Love Is Suddenly Gone

After caring for the love of my life and watching him lose his battle with brain cancer just four months after his diagnosis, I was completely broken and lost. I found myself fighting for my life and struggling to find purpose again after his death.

While Dave and I went on many great adventures together, there was one place that I always dreamed of going to that never made it on our travel list: Africa.

Being so broken and alone, I decided it was time to book a trip to Rwanda. I instantly fell in love with the country, the people, and the gorillas from the moment I landed on its soil. 

After Losing My Husband, I Found Hope Again In AfricaPhoto from author

Known as the Land of a Thousand Hills, Rwanda is a small nation in the heart of Africa where its people have thrived in a rich and diverse environment. I distinctly remember my first experience with Silverbacks Gorillas, and how they were just as drawn to me as I was to them. One of the gorillas leaned into me as if it was saying, “Welcome home.”

Every time I visited Africa, I wanted to find a reason to stay. Returning to Arizona without Dave just didn’t feel like home anymore.

RELATED: An Anthropologist Was Taught The Emotional Lesson Of 'Ubuntu' From Kids In A South African Tribe — And It's Something American Kids Should Learn, Too

It was during my second visit that I began to deeply connect with locals and start to form relationships with people who loved Rwanda like I do. I realized there was a collective desire to make a difference, spread kindness, and give back. I felt accepted by the community and decided to take a leap of faith by starting a coffee company to share with the world the incredible coffee grown in Rwanda inspired by the land, the people, and the mountain gorillas.

From there, Silverbacks Coffee was born! 

After Losing My Husband, I Found Hope Again In AfricaPhoto from author

RELATED: A Psychologist Explains Why You Either Love Or Hate Coffee

The mission of Silverbacks Coffee is to give back a large portion of the proceeds from coffee sold in Africa to the farmers, the conservation of the Silverback gorillas, and the Rwandan women and children that make this such a special place. For any coffee sold in the U.S., Silverbacks Coffee will give back to worthy causes through charitable partnerships. We hope to change the world one delicious cup of coffee at a time.

Our journey is just beginning. This spring we will celebrate the opening of our first coffee shop in Rwanda with the entire Rwandan community, including the President of Rwanda who regularly stops by with his wife to see the construction progress and is very supportive of this endeavor! The two-story shop will feature local art and custom-made furniture and will be a central gathering place for the Rwandan people and tourists. 

After Losing My Husband, I Found Hope Again In AfricaPhoto from author

I knew from the moment I stepped off the plane in Africa that this was the place that was going to heal me. I was right.

RELATED: How To Move Forward After Becoming A Widow: Reviewing Myself As A Spouse

Tami Loehrs was a worldwide digital forensics expert for over 20 years living in the United States when her husband and the love of her life died of a brain tumor. It was Africa that ultimately saved her life and led her to found Silverbacks Coffee.