The Day

June 2nd 2019 is the official day noted as the death of my husband Kramer.  It happened in the night so to me and the kids, it seems more like it was the day before.

But officially:  Today is the one year anniversary.

Not so long ago I was watching a Ken Burns’ miniseries on The Roosevelts.  It was noted that this was the diary entry wrote on the day his wife died…

…an “X” and then the words “the light has gone out of my life”.

he had is much worse than me.  “On Valentine’s Day of 1884, just 36 hours after the birth of their only daughter, Alice (named after her mother), 25-year-old future U.S. President Roosevelt held his young wife in his arms as she passed away from undiagnosed Bright’s disease. Incredibly, just hours before, in the same house, he had already said a final goodbye to his mother, Martha. She had succumbed to Typhoid, aged just 48.”

What a incredible man to pull through that tragedy.

…I can say, I fell his sentiment.  I truly did feel like the light was gone from my life when Kramer passed.

What a blow it was to me….what a blow it was to the family and to the kids.  When I married Kramer back in 1986, I had no idea our life would lead us to Iowa…we were Minnesotans.

This was definitely and 80’s wedding, right??
I had no idea that so many of the men in this picture would be balding.  I had no idea that the two people by my side in this photo…Jody and Kramer would both be gone and I’d only be 53 years old.  Sadly one of our groomsman has passed from pancreatic cancer as well.  Can you believe four of us in the photo have struggled with cancer?

So often when we attend a wedding we imagine the couple years and years and years down the road as an old couple sitting in rocking chairs on the porch in their 80’s.  Sadly, that isn’t what happens to many couples.  It didn’t happen to Kramer and I.  Kramer was plucked out of the world while we just starting to have a life of our own.  The kids had moved out.  We were starting to have grandbabies.  We were just getting to the good stuff.

The light did go out of my world when Kramer passed.

A year ago, I was so wrapped in shock and grief that I couldn’t image getting to this day, but here I am.  Baby step by baby step, I got here.  There were days and times I thought “this is too much”.  I still have those moments but the moments pass and slowly, the light flickers again.  It will never be the same.  I will carry the grief of his loss for forever.

I will forever miss his talent for fixing anything and everything.  I’ll miss his sayings like:  “God didn’t put it together so I can get it apart”.  I’ll miss the look he gave me over his glasses when I said something stupid.  I miss his noon phone call from work every day.  I miss cooking for him and normalcy it gave me.  I miss him poking me in the side and saying “GOOSE”.  I miss the fun we had together doing projects.  I even miss the smell of cow poop and farm he always carried with him home from work.  I miss “stepping into his office”.  That’s what he called sitting on the porch and drinking a beer.  I miss so many things…

I will always say that Kramer was so good at grounding me…and also great at giving me wings.  As a spouse, I think that’s a wonderful quality.  He let me know that home was with him….but he was supportive if I wanted to try new things and stretch my wings.  That meant so much to me and thankfully, I still feel that same sense of grounding and flight to this day.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t do a little public service announcement in this post.  Kramer died from lung cancer.

Image result for lung cancer awareness month
Kramer was a smoker but not everyone who is diagnosed with lung cancer is or was a smoker.

Man with lung cancer symptoms Royalty Free Vector Image
Please know not everyone has all of these symptoms.  For a long time, Kramer would cough and I’d question his cough.  He would say, “I’m not coughing up blood.”  You don’t have to cough up blood to have lung cancer.  Kramer never coughed up blood and he had a large mass.

Kramer would have only had two of shown symptoms.  He did cough.  He was more tired.  Another symptom some charts show is wheezing.  Kramer did wheeze.

Diagnosing lung cancer is so easy.  All that happens is a chest CT scan done.  It takes about 10 minutes.  It’s easy,  not invasive and quick.  If you are a person who has smoked for over 10 years, you can talk to your doctor and request a scan.  Kramer requested a scan after I badgered him to do so.  He talked to his doctor and his doctor was totally on board.

As with any cancer, the earlier cancer is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can happen and the more successful the treatment will likely be so it’s important to be proactive.

If you yourself smoke or you have a loved one who does, this is not meant as a post to convince you or them to quit smoking.  I tried that with Kramer and know better.  People quit when they want to quit, if they want to quit.  So smoke if you want, but please be proactive about monitoring your lungs.  Have a chest CT done if for no other reason than a baseline to compare a later scan to.

When Kramer passed, the light really did go out of my life.  I will never be the same person.  I am coming through …I’m actually proud of myself as this has all been really hard but, please, oh please, if you smoke, get a chest CT scan and save your family much of the pain this last year has brought to me and my family.  You can do so much to lessen your chances or the chances of loved one dying from lung cancer if only you test.  Please don’t take the light out of your loved one.

28 thoughts on “The Day”

  1. So sorry for your loss. This will be a hard day but hopefully you’ll remember more of the great memories than the sad ones. Be extra kind to yourself today and know that lots of people are thinking of you and your family today.

  2. Paulette Voit

    My husband passed away from cancer over 14 years ago. I was dreading that first anniversary and when it came I felt like I could not breathe. All the life has been sucked out of me. Little step by little step I was able to push forward and at the end of the day I said to myself you made it! You’re going to be okay. I have many ups and downs all the time but I know with God’s help I’m going to make it. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  3. You are so strong Jo. I admire you so. I am sure it is Kramer who carries you through now. He sounds like he was a strong, confident, sensible and caring man. You had a great life together, much more than many will ever experience and so sad it was cut short. Together you raised a great family and each and every one has Kramers qualities. Wonderful kids. I hope you can take comfort in that.
    On the Roosevelt story, I think you meant Teddy, not FDR. Still a wonderful story and I feel perfectly describes when someone loses their spouse. My father lost my mother and he too lost his light that day.

  4. Thoughts are with you today. I am so impressed that you advocate for others, even on this day that’s so hard for you. You are so generous.

  5. Anniversaries are hard after someone you love passes, but as you have noticed, there are many of them, not just the day they die. With Gods grace, we remember the happier anniversaries and the love shared through many years. Blessings to you Jo.

  6. Hugs and prayers to you and the whole family. I know it’s been a hard year and you miss him dearly. But you are all so strong and will continue to be strong and carry on. I’m so glad I was able to attend Kramer’s celebration of life. It was beautiful gathering of family and friends. Continued blessings to you and the family. Hugs!!!

  7. You are one of the strongest most grounded people I know. Yes it has been a painful year but you have survived and will continue to do so. Kramer would be very proud of all of you.

  8. Thank you for sharing your innermost thoughts, Jo.
    You are a such a good person, and your family is blessed to have you. God bless you. God bless little Gannon also. My prayers are for him and his testing.

  9. God be with you today and everyday- bringing to you peace. May your joy be brighter than your sadness. God holds you close to Him.

  10. Peggy Fanning

    Thank you for sharing your story. Also, thank you for the wonderful work you do with your blog. I trust each year will get easier and the memories sweeter.

  11. SusanfromKentucky

    Thinking of you on this day, Jo. This past Saturday was the 3 year anniversary of my husband’s death. Still a hard time. Take care of yourself! <3

  12. Angie in SoCal

    Thinking of you today, Jo – it’s hard to go one with such a large piece of your heart missing. May happy memories and our Lord sustain you. Prayers for you and the wonderful family you have.

  13. Jo, I read your post this morning with great sadness and empathy. My husband Tom passed away 4 months ago on Feb 2nd. Had it been marking something other than his death, he would have been so tickled to have a personal tie to the 900-year palindrome of 02/02/2020. He and I were together for 40 years, married just shy of 35 years. He was 67 and I was 61. He’d left the workforce early to take care of the house and chores, while I was/am the earner. It worked well for us and gave us both lots of free time and energy for travel and other fun. We never felt the pull to have children. Our life was good and just what we wanted, though I regret to say some family members looked down on him for our non-traditional roles and choices.

    Five years ago he received a devastating diagnosis, discovered by accident. That began the roller coaster as some doctors were totally pessimistic while others felt he would stabilize. Eleven months before he died he began going downhill with a series of hospitalizations, resulting with in-home hospice care for the last 5 months. During those 5 months he showed improvement and even the doctors/nurses were shocked that he passed when and how he did. Tom was firmly convinced he would stabilize and live, and even had me and the hospice folks believing it sometimes. I thought about that when you mentioned months ago about going along with Kramer’s “it’ll get better” mindset. I’m actually glad now that Tom felt that way as I think it was better for him to die in hope.

    I came across your blog while I was Tom’s caregiver, after seeing one of your quilts in a magazine. I’ve wanted to say this for a while but didn’t have the strength. Your honest and moving accounts of your experiences have helped me so much through this period. It helps me know I’m normal when I still call things “ours” instead of “mine,” or burst into tears from some seemingly insignificant reminder of better times. Thank you, thank you for your compassion and truth-telling. I’m sure your life is much harder than it looks and admire you for your ability to keep going. I’m not religious, however I do keep you in my thoughts and hope your health issues are resolved with the best possible outcome. I’m glad you’re still mindful of your health as it can be pretty hard to care about yourself when grieving. Thank you again.

    Yes, the light is gone.

  14. So glad you had the grounding and the freeing support, Jo. That’s a great marriage. Hold on to those good memories and continue to take that next breath. Thanks for sharing your life with us.God bless you.

  15. One year yet? This means I am reading you for more than two years! I love to know about your life and family and work. Stay strong. You and your family are wonderful.

  16. Susan the Farm Quilter

    Praying for you and your family on this difficult day. It is never easy to lose a loved one, no matter their role in your life, but your ability to share your road has made it more understandable for those of us who still have their spouses and will allow us to exhibit more empathy for those around us who are going through that deep valley, as well as help us when it is our turn to walk that road. You are a blessing to so many through your blog. Thank you.

  17. I am so sorry for your pain, glad and a little jealous that you had such a happy marriage with good memories. good luck and wishes for a happy future.

  18. Linda Jarnecke

    My husband Ron died from leukemia in the spring of 2008. We were married for 28 years. There are times when I dream of him and miss him. But life has opened a new door for me…I moved from Missouri to Iowa, met a man in 2012 and dated for a couple of years…married in 2016. Life does go on and gets better. And I have found a new peace in my life the last couple of years…quilting. Know that you are not alone and that someday a new door will open for you also. Take that first step across the threshold…beautiful things are waiting for you there as they have for many.

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