365 Days

It was about 365 days ago that I had to sit my kids down and tell them it was time for them to go home.

Kramer has passed away on the 2nd.  The funeral was the 5th.  I was swirling and desperate for alone time to process all that had happened.  I’m a person who processes better with alone time.  At some point I had to set the kids free and strike out on my own.  Kramer was gone.  This was now my life…This was now their life.  To be honest, I think this sent a good message to the kids that we weren’t allowed to get stuck in grief.  Certainly it was okay to be feeling grief but it wasn’t okay to not pick up and take a step forward.

I can’t believe that this all happened 365 days ago.  It was definitely a one step forward at a time process…and baby steps at that for me and for them.  I didn’t imagine I could make it this far….I’d never really imagined life without Kramer so I didn’t know what to expect.

I am so thankful that we can easily talk and share stories and joke about Kramer now.  The other night we were at the supper table.  All the kids were home except Buck and his family.  I had made a huge “breakfast for supper” meal with pancakes, sausage patties and eggs.  We all laughed as many of us were drinking a beer.  Kramer’s big saying was that “beer goes with everything except pancakes”…and here we all were with a beer and eating pancakes.  We all smiled and toasted him…with some of us agreeing with his statement…beer and pancakes really don’t go the best together.

Along the way we have done some really positive things to help us all deal.  We have all been super open about our grief.  We talk to each other and say we had a tough day and we call each other and share that.  Grief shared is grief halved.  It really is.  I can’t tell you how many times Kalissa and I have rehashed the last day of Kramer’s life.  Talking is the key to processing all the feelings…all the wondering…all the wishing.

I have changed so much in the last year.  Somehow 12 pounds fell off me without me trying or realizing it.  It is just new habits and less baking.  My previous life with Kramer involved so much food.  My life now, especially since the childcare kids aren’t here, has less food in it.

My attitude towards things has changed so much too.  I’ve realized what’s important.  It’s like a weird calmness is around me.  I always worried if I could handle the death of my husband.  I wondered if I could sit and hold the hand of someone passing away.  I wondered if I could be the widow greeting people at the casket.  I wondered if I could be the sole homeowner and make things work.  I wondered if I could handle the finances and make the decisions….I’m doing that all…and although hard, I’m muddling along and I’m okay.

I don’t worry like I used to.
I don’t stress like I used to.
I’m not bothered as much.

That has been the blessing behind the pain of grief.

I was in the doctor’s office the day of my PET scan.  I was in the waiting room.  A lady in there was irate.  Her whole body was full of anger.  She had been waiting.  There was a mistake in her care.  She was going to let everyone know she was angry.

Our conversation went something like this…
Very angrily she said, “Which doctor are you seeing?”  I told her.  She said, “Well good for you-you don’t have my doctor.  I’ve been waiting here for 40 minutes and then they tell me I have to do bloodwork.”

I told her that I’ve learned to always do my bloodwork a few days in advance and I do it at my local clinic.  She, still super angry said, “I do that.  They didn’t do one of the tests.”  She then went on to say in a booming voice that she was so mad that she was sick of all of this and she was going to quit going to this clinic as they were screwing her over and she needed to mow her lawn.

I calmly told her about the wonderful and amazing experience we had with Kramer during his diagnosis with lung cancer and then death.  I said that everyone was only ever kind and considerate of us.  I told her how compassionate everyone at the hospital and clinis was to us.  I went on to say that because of our rural location we could go to several different clinics and hospitals and we wouldn’t dream of going everywhere else.  Then I told her a mistake was likely made with her things and I was sorry that happened.

She expressed her condolences and really calmed down.

Then I asked her about her lawn.  I said we used to live on a farm and we had 4 hours of mowing to do.  I asked her how many she had.  She had 3 hours worth.  I told her that I remembered how frustrating that was especially when it had to be squeezed in between rains.

She was calming even more.

Years ago…I might have been a little more like this lady stressing about things that were annoying (I would have been more tactful but it would have bothered me)….things that delayed my busy “important” day frustrated me.  Now these (what are now) trivial things don’t bother me so much.  It just is part of life.  That doesn’t mean I don’t get frustrated…I do.  But I keep it at frustration and don’t get angry.  I’m better at realizing what I need and asking for it…or if there’s something I don’t like, I say.  I don’t let anger and frustration build anymore.

I think the more calm me came after I realized how short life really is.  I realized in the scheme of things, a missed blood test matters little compared to a lost life.  I realize a lawn that needs to be mowed is just a lawn that needs to be mowed.  It’s not the end of the world and not worth fretting over.

I am sad at times that it took his death and the last year to get me here…but I’m very happy I made it this far.  I didn’t think I could do it…but I survived the first year.   I am keeping the house up.  I’m figuring out the finances.  I’m making the decisions.

I didn’t really realize that until a few weeks ago when we were talking between our family deciding how we were going to handle covid amongst our family.  Were we going open our lives to see each other or not?  Buck said, “Mom, as head of the family, you need to decide.”

Part of me wanted to break down and cry when he said that…the other part of me wanted to rejoice.  I didn’t want to be head of the family.  I wanted Kramer to be here.  I wanted him to be head of the family.  But, the reality is he’s gone.  Someone else had to step up.  Someone else had to be “the head”.  I guess I did it.  The kids recognized me as “head of the family”.  How bittersweet.

I have the best team of kids behind me.  They have proved themselves time and time again to be the kids Kramer would be proud of.  I know I sure am.  Over this past year, they’ve all been right by my side.  I love them so much for that…

So here we are…365 days ago the agony of the 129 days of Kramers lung journey saga had ended.  The funeral was over.  The cake pans were returned.  The leftovers were in the freezer.  It was the day the Kramer family pulled up our bootstraps and started trudging ahead back to the new lives we were to build after the death of our husband, father and grandfather.  We all miss Kramer terribly but I think he’d be pretty proud of us all if he could see us today…time to pull up those bootstraps and trudge on ahead.  We have a new year to get through…one step at a time, even though some days, it’s just a baby step.

21 thoughts on “365 Days

  1. Anita B

    God has given you strength and wisdom, and you pass it on to your lovely family, and to us, your blog friends, who look forward to hearing from you every day.

  2. Janet R

    You have weathered an awful storm and come out stronger on the other side. You and Kramer raised some wonderful, beautiful children and I’m so glad they are there to support you and you are there to support them.

    Thank you for sharing your life with me ❤️

  3. Judith Fairchild

    Been reading you’re blog for about a year and a half. I appreciate the way you handled everything that was thrown at you in this time. You have set a great example of how to engage in doing the seemingly impossible. I salute you.

  4. Stearns Carol

    Thank you. I needed that. Everyone in the world needs this right now. There is so much angst and trauma it is hard to know what the truth it. A devotional that I do had this today. Give all your worries to God as he cares for you. 1Peter 5:7.

  5. Em

    I’ve just discovered your writing and I’m gutted. I’ve read two of your articles. One where you talk about losing your husband and this one. You have experienced my greatest fear and come out ahead of it. Thank you for writing about your pain and showing me how to have grace even when troubled.

  6. Donna

    I’m honored to consider you a friend and am so blessed with everything you have shared. Thank you from the bottom and the outer ends of my heart.
    Love and prayers

  7. Karen

    I am a longtime reader of your blog, and usually lurking in the shadows without commenting. But today I just want to say that I am sure Kramer is watching, and he is indeed proud of all of you!

  8. JANICE RUSSELL

    You are a good person; it shows in your writing and in your heart. You have been through a bad year but you have figured out that despite your loss you can and have gone on. We never know what is coming in the future. My husband died of Alzheimers about 16 months ago. He was the last man on earth I would have ever thought would get Alzheimers but he did. We had a long goodbye, stretched out over many years. I learned long before his death how to manage our affairs. But I didn’t do it with the grace that you did. You are a wonderful example for your children and they are blessed to have you.

  9. Debbie B

    You have had a year of growth and strength and wisdom and have done a beautiful job. You are a great “head of the household” for the family to look up to. Kudos to you and the family for the way you have handled all that . I’m know Kramer is proud of you all. Thanks for being a great friend and sharing your journey. Take care and God Bless!

  10. The Joyful Quilter

    Well done, Jo. I applaud your courage to move forward. Forward in the face of your grief and forward in the presence of COVID-19. As always, thanks for sharing your journey with us.

  11. Elle

    Good morning Jo :-) Your ability to express the deep feelings, angst, love and grief of the past 494 days of your life along with your entire family, is remarkable! Kramer lives on through you all. God Bless you all.

  12. Janine Baker

    As always, Jo, you have handled everything with such grace & heart. I hope that the other lady went home that day feeling a little bit better because of you & that kind heart. Keep being such a wise and wonderful “Head” to all of us and our families-we need you & your wise words and cool head during these trying times. Love & Hugs to you and your whole family!!!

  13. Marilyn

    Thank you Jo for sharing so much with us. You are an amazing woman. The trials and tribulations, you have faced with courage and grace. Blessings to you and your beautiful family.

  14. Kim J LeMere

    You and your family have had a terrible year and you have shared the journey with us all, thank you for your honesty in how this past year has been for you. I appreciate your writings and how you tell it like it is.

  15. Ruth

    How wonderful, making that Angry Woman feel her concerns were “heard and acknowledged.” You were able to step out and share relevant parts of your own life that were the same as hers. It’s a hard step, becoming the head of the family as you have. You are Doing Good!!

  16. lynn bourgeois

    Sending you hugs and kudos. hugs cause we all need them, and kudos that you have made it through the year with such positive spirit. There are days when putting one foot in front of the other is enough. You have accomplished much in the 365 days

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