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.