Three Years…and counting

Long-time blog readers know I lost my husband to lung cancer in June of 2019.  He was diagnosed in January of that year.  They unsuccessfully tried to remove the tumor in February.  Started chemo and radiation in March.  Was feeling terrible by the end of April when he broke his neck.  The cancer had moved and ate the bones in his neck leaving him with a broken neck that was never going to heal.

The day he broke his neck, we took a scary drive to the local ER and they transferred him via ambulance to the larger hospital.  It was a terrible day.

Of all the times in the year when I miss Kramer, the last weekend in April is always the very hardest.  There’s not a specific day that’s hard as the drama of it all unfolded over a few days.

Some people when talking about death say part of them died on the day their spouse died.  For me, that was this weekend when he broke his neck that part of me died.  I knew there was no hope he’d ever be himself again.

He wouldn’t “goose” me when I went up the stairs.  He wouldn’t drive where we were going and I’d stitch along the drive.  We wouldn’t go antiquing and fix projects together.  He wouldn’t be handling a to-do list.  He wouldn’t be able to ever go back to work.  He wouldn’t be able to be a fireman or a first responder.  He wouldn’t be the man he prided himself to be.

I will always say the hardest day of my life was the day he broke his neck.  It wasn’t for him though.  He was still hopeful.  He was still confident and that’s what hurt me even more.

I could see it was bad.  I could see the change.  He didn’t…I could no longer be his reality check because I didn’t want to hurt him.  I just let him believe as long as he could…but I knew.  I knew and it was so hard to be feeling so broken when he couldn’t see it.

I think it was then I started mourning his loss.  He lived another five weeks after that.  Four of it was mostly with him still hopeful and me hopeless.  I fought to not let him see my real feelings.  For the most part, between the drugs, he was on and my acting job, it was okay.

All of that comes back to me at this time of year…the hopelessness I felt then can still drag me down today…

I had a little sprig of sunshine though.  I got a note from Hannah.  Many of you know Hannah and her Dad own the farm where Kramer worked.

Hannah wrote:
“If you’re a fellow Midwesterner, you’ll probably agree that Thursday was fantastic weather-wise. Sunny and warm! A REAL Spring day at last! Aaaand now it’s Friday and we’re back to chilly rain. It’s hard not to feel a little discouraged, especially when you were born impatient and it only got worse (me).

So, we’re looking to the bright side on this gloomy Friday.

While working on my college final this afternoon, I needed to do some mapping. I switched my phone into street view and discovered a treasure. Our pal Rog, in May 2018, waiting (perhaps just as impatiently) for the google car to pass before heading on his way.

There’s a bigger narrative about patience here, but I’ll let you find it yourself. ❤️

Hannah attached these two pictures to her message… That’s Kramer in the farm truck.

She enlarged the picture but it got a little blurry.

Awe…I was happy to see him again.  My favorite pictures ever of him are ones like this when he was working and just being himself…long before the cancer diagnosis…long before he broke his neck…long before he left me.

I kind of felt like this photo coming was a little serendipitous.  It came when I needed it.

No worries…I’m okay.  It’s all part of the grieving and sadly, there is still grieving to do.  I am just thankful that the big grief only comes occasionally now.  This last week has been my time but it will pass…it always does.

38 thoughts on “Three Years…and counting”

  1. Kathleen R Pfaff

    I lost my oldest daughter unexpectedly November 22, 2021. Kim was just 45 years. She suffered an anoxic event resulting from a cardiac event. I grieve for her every day. Jo, you give me hope that it is barrable and that with time the memories will ease the pain….

  2. Many of us have gone through what you have, and many more will. I don’t know if I’ll pass first or my husband (likely me, though), but I know from losing my mom over 42 years ago that grief DOES lessen with time. It doesn’t ever stop but the eventually I was left with good memories and the bad faded. I was 23 when she died and hers was the first death I’d experienced & the first funeral I arranged. I still occasionally will hear a voice and turn suddenly as it sounds like my mom’s, but of course its not. I’m so sorry, Jo, that you don’t still have the love of your life with you, but someday you’ll be with him again. In the meantime you have all your lovely children & grandchildren (how FUN to have so many!) to love on and enjoy.

    1. I cried and cried for you when you got this news, Jo. I had lost my husband 1 year before and I couldn’t believe it was happening to you and your family. Thanks for sharing your story of coping, tears and love.

  3. My worse time after my husband died was always on July 3, the day we got his diagnosis. For several years I just dreaded July 3rd. What you go through every end of April is understandable, many widows go through it. My husband died 7 weeks later after his diagnosis but he sure crammed a lot of living in it. Now I can look back at the happy times we had and be glad of the time we had together. I know you do this too.

  4. Hugs to you Jo as you grieve Kramer.

    A beautiful message and great memory photos from your friend at the perfect time for you!

  5. Hugs from Mn. At least this grief didn’t catch you off guard. Rog probably was being optimistic for you and him. It gives everyone hope. I am sad that you had that internal conflict.

    He was such a good guy! I’m glad you have all those wonderful memories of your life together. It made me smile hearing how he would goose you. You had a real love story. Many do not get that. I wish I could make the grief stay away. Prayers and hugs my friend!

  6. Stephani in N. TX

    Wonderful to get a positive surprise as we just roll along, living this life. Early in the week, I was sitting at my home office window, tapping at my computer when a large red cardinal jumped around on the shrubs outside my window. Then he jumped up on the window sill just inches away, and stayed for a bit while he sang to his mate who I could then see, had landed on another shrub. Cardinals were our favorite birds. My husband flew to St Louis weekly for a while for work, flying home on weekends and said cardinals are frequent there. Husband has been gone a few years now; hopefully, an angel was near.

  7. Oh my. Hugs to you. My husband has Parkinson’s, and I grieve his change every day. It’s so hard to see someone you love suffer each day.

    1. My heart goes out to you Becky. It’s a hard balance of wanting to squeeze them and hold on tight but knowing you’ll have to let them go. Caretakers are highly overlooked. Many prayers for you.

  8. Jo, your post brought tears to my eyes. Your post also made me go hug my loving hubby of 42 years. He’s like your Kramer, a ” push the grocery cart” kind of guy.
    I’m sending you a virtual hug to help you through this sad week, what a nice surprise Hannah sent you, just proves there are kind people in the world still- and I count you as one of them too!

  9. shirley from Calmar

    I hear you. You said it just perfectly, the way it is. Bad week for me also. Gloomy weather doesn’t improve the situation. I lost my husband May the 4th 8 years ago. My grandbabies always say May the 4th be with you. My husband wasn’t a Star Wars fan at all, so kinda funny in its own right. It is so neat that the picture is out there forever. Those little glimpses of happiness are priceless.

  10. Thank you for writing so openly about your emotions! It is helpful to many of us regardless of the cause of our grief. Wish you were close enough I could give you a hug!❤️

  11. I always want to thank you sharing your grieving process with us. You are so good at putting your thoughts on paper and helping us to get a glimpse of what you are going through. When something like the picture showing up happens, I call that a God Wink!

  12. I started following the farm blog at some point and I knew you were going to love those pictures. I grew up on a farm and 78 years later still live on a 15 acre part of it.
    I love reading about their farm and all the modern conveniences. Also love reading about the strong women there.

  13. I lost my Mother when she was only 46 and I was 19 and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and grieve. It’s been decades now. She’s been dead for longer than she was alive. That fact alone causes me such grief. Every. milestone in my life has been rough. She never saw me graduate from college, get married, suffer through many years of infertility treatments, or see the birth of her granddaughter (finally!).
    You never get over the grief, you just learn to make peace with it. Do something nice for yourself this weekend.

  14. Jo, what a blessing to have a photo of Kramer in his truck! My heart goes out to you in your grief. Your post is helping a lot of us who are trying to cope with the loss of our sweetheart. A neighbor gave me a picture of my husband raking hay, which was on his deer cam.. so thankful to have the photo of Larry! My grandsons especially love this memory cuz you can see a puff of smoke from the exhaust. ! “Grandpa’s gunnin it!” Your thoughts about what’s not in the future are so real. How we miss that everyday companionship n love!! Praying for the Lord’s comfort to wrap you in a hug from all of us.

  15. I think the photo is wonderful reminder that Kramer will always be a part of the farm. Blessings and prayers.

  16. So many things can just hit us unexpectedly–the kind that sometimes I describe as a “double whammy” -the sort that can be happy memories–or stir up the “missing and longing” for little things that were just a small part of life with our mate. Like the picture Hannah shared– After 36 years –will be 37 years Oct 1st. just recently I thought—- I can’t remember his voice. We had 30 years and a bit more together -and am grateful we had all of that. Yes– I have had tears –the last thing I need -since fighting a bad cold for 2 weeks -am tired of having to blow my nose all the time!!! Hugs — thinking of you–and hope all the hugs sent help. I know our loved one is always around us…special Guardian Angels.

  17. I’ve been grieving the loss of my daddy the last week of April for the last seven years. Not that that loss compares to losing one’s spouse yet it is a loss all the same. I feel the more we feel grief shows how very much we loved and cared for someone. I still grieve losing a close girlfriend to metastatic breast cancer 3 years ago. Helen gave it her all and was optimistic, too, clear up until the last three days of her life when she resigned herself to the ultimate task of allowing herself to go. This time every April is very hard for me but this year it has been a bit softer and gentler. You will be reunited with Kramer one day of that I am certain.

  18. Thoughts and prayers for you at this time. How thoughtful Hannah was to send the note and pictures especially at this time.

  19. I remember all of that. You seemed so strong…for Kramer, for the kids, but I know you were not. I admire you so much for that. Sometimes I think, I can get through this, Jo got thru that. Many ❤❤❤ dear.

  20. Cynthia from Nebraska

    I started reading your blog after Kramer died. I have always appreciated the way you approach grief and share your thoughts and feelings with others. Internet hugs from a stranger.

  21. I lost my 42 year old daughter last fall on her 19 year old’s birthday. She left 4 teenagers (ages 13-19) and her husband behind. Covid took her in 2 days. My heart hurts for my loss but even more for my grandchildren’s loss. I see the struggles they have not having her to come home to to share their day. We have been through the sports she so loved seeing them in and the prom of 2 daughters that she looked so forward to. I am so sorry you still have to feel that loss. Knowing what you feel may help me through my remaining years to remember to comfort them and get through the years ahead.

  22. Hi Jo, thank you for your lovely and heartfelt post about the loss of you dear darling hubby, and how you are dealing with it. May God bless you as you remember him. It sounds like you had a wonderful marriage and life with him, but I also see that you have a wonderful life now, with your beautiful family, just different now. It encourages me to see how you live your life now, because it shows me that if I ever have to adjust to life without my own darling husband, I will find a way, just like you have. God bless you heaps, Jo, hugs from Australia

  23. My husband died in Oct. 2017. In 2010, he had kidney cancer. Two days after surgery to remove that kidney in early May, his other kidney failed. He lived over 7 years on peritional dialysis, but diabetes, stroke, and finally heart problems kept adding to his suffering. I miss him every day. One of the things that I am proudest of in my life is that during that time, I managed to be there for him, oversee and care for his mother in assisted living, and work full time so that I could provide insurance and pay the bills. His mother died in June 2010 and my husband in October. Grief is an odd companion to live with. Some days it almost paralyzes you; other days it gives you such poignant reminders. I started reading your blog last fall. One of the things that drew me to come back was what you said about Kramer. It made me feel like I was not so isolated in my grief. It is a blessing that you have been able to share this with others.

  24. in the midst of such sadness, to have such a lovely friend being there for you and knowing that she had a lovely treasure that would ease your pain.

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