Unconditional Love

It’s been three years.  One would think I’d have worked through my emotions about losing my niece Jody to cancer by now.  I haven’t.

This came up on my Facebook feed a couple of weeks ago and my immediate thought was, “I need to share this with Jody”.  It’s been three years since breast cancer took her away.  One would think I wouldn’t think those thoughts anymore.

For those of you new here…Jody was my niece.  She was only 4 years younger than me.  You can see us in the photo below with her brother Jeremy.   You can read more about our relationship HERE.

I spent lots of time in the back of Jody’s parent’s station wagon.  It looked much like the one in the first picture of this post…that terrible green and woodgrain.  The backseat was backward just like in the picture.  We would sit back there and sing…Some of our favorites were the Seasame Street theme song, Do-Re-mi from the Sound of Music, and Top of the World by The Carpenters.  Back then there weren’t recordings to sing along with so it was all acapella.  I’m sure we sounded terrible. Well maybe not.  Jody had a great voice!!   We sure had fun.

As September rolls around the anniversary of Jody’s death comes.  I’ve been trying to figure out why I haven’t been taking it the best.

Part of it is that I know Jody really did love me unconditionally.  Some people flip the saying “unconditional love” around but when it came right down to the wire, they don’t.  Jody did love me like that and is one of the few people who I ever really felt it from besides my own kids and husband.

Jody was with me and in my family, growing up at the same time.  Many of my perspectives about my brothers or parents were the same perspective she had.  She knew all of my history.  We loved the same movies…listened to the same music…wore the same styles…lived through 80s hair.  She knew how straight my hair was and how hard I struggled to make it curly.  She knew my hair wouldn’t take a perm.  She lived through home perms with me.

She knew the boyfriends before I met Kramer, my husband who passed away.  Jody knew it all and loved me in spite of it all.

I really miss that kind of relationship, and the hardest part is that there is no way to get that with anyone else.  I can’t go insert another person into that…man, I miss her.

Nowadays I get more teary-eyed over Jody vs Kramer.  That bothered me and I’ve tried to understand it.  How can I get more teary-eyed over Jody?

If you all remember, 2019 was a hard year for me.  I lost Kramer in June and then Jody in September.  Cancer took them both.

I think I was still in shock and heavy with grief over Kramer’s passing when Jody passed.

Being I lived with Kramer, grief was there every day.  I was constantly reminded he had died when I didn’t hear his alarm clock…when he didn’t come home from work…when we didn’t do our usual things…when it was me who changed the furnace filter…when I ate supper alone and slept alone.  When grief is thrown in your face every day, you eventually have to work through it.  That’s how it is with Kramer.

I talked to Jody regularly.  We texted often…but it wasn’t every day.  I depended on her emotionally but not physically as we didn’t live in the same house and lived two hours apart.

I think I could only handle so much grief at a time…I think grief for Jody got set aside.

I’ve come to a place where I feel okay with my life without Kramer.  Do I love it?  No, but, I’ve been alone for three years now.  I still miss him terribly and always will but I can trust myself a little more now.  I probably won’t get teary-eyed in public.  Well, I might get teary eyed but nothing super noticeable.  I can handle the triggers and keep them at bay much better.  I can talk about him.  I can tell the good and bad and not memorialize him as perfect.  I can handle the house and yard.  I can make the decisions without trying to figure out what he would have done.  I’ve come to a new place I don’t really have a word for…maybe acceptance??

I think all of that work I’ve done on grieving him has opened me up to now work through the grief of losing Jody.  It’s both a blessing and a curse…wonderful that I’ve gotten through the toughest part of grieving him, but awful because I’m that much time further away from my life with him.

The good thing I know is that I’ve done this.  I’ve grieved before.  I can do it again.  I know it gets better and most of all…I know grief is part of life.  I know that grief only hits really hard if you were truly loved and loved in return…and the hardest grief of all comes from the loss of those who unconditionally loved us and we felt that love.

I’ll take unconditional love even if it means grief in the end any day.  The love is worth the pain.

No worries…I’m totally okay.  Just hit a rough spot.

Love you Jody!!  Thanks for the 49 years but more than that, thank you for unconditionally loving me.  That love did and still does mean the world to me.

26 thoughts on “Unconditional Love”

  1. Everyone needs a Jody in their life. But it’s only the most Blessed that actually do have that kind of friend /family. I always feel touched by your grief between May to September. I’m so glad you have awesome children who are there for you. I know it’s not quite the same as a spouse or best buddy that really lets you be yourself- the good the bad and the ugly.But I’m glad you are able and willing to share what they meant to you, with the rest of us.

  2. Thank you so much for your very honest thoughts about your niece Jody, and your grief and how it has played out in your life. How blessed you were to have a wonderful husband and a niece who doubled as your best friend too. You’re right, there are not many people that you can truly say love you unconditionally. May you be blessed as you work through your grief, and celebrate the beautiful person she was, and all the good times you had together. Blessings to you, Jo.

  3. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on grief and the process of it all. Losing someone who has known you the longest and loved you so is a struggle. I’m sorry she is gone from you and her family.

  4. My last sibling died 5 years ago September 7. He and I were only 18 months apart in age and he was my older brother, the one I played with. I still miss him and can get teary eyed too. Right now I dwell on the good times we had, his gentle ways like our dad. So go ahead and grieve for Jody now, she is worth that. We love people and then they are gone. My husband died 25 years ago September 9 and while I still miss him, the grieving has finally stopped. Death and grief are part of life and we just have to go through it.

  5. 2019 was a hard year for you. I can only imagine what you went through and still go through losing two very close, loving people in the same year. You are so strong and have come so far. It is okay to have all these emotions yet for a missed loved one.

  6. Grief has no rules. There isn’t a one size fits all. We all grieve differently. I do know that in my experiences it never goes away. It sneaks up on me randomly. I could be fine one day and the next every little thing brings it all to the forefront. Something that doesn’t bother me 20 times all of a sudden I can’t get past it. I do agree with you when you say living with it you go through it a bit differently than someone that you aren’t living with. I still have moments that I want to pick up my phone and call, text or message someone I have lost. I try to relish in the moment because it brings back such wonderful memories (no matter how painful it is to remember they are no longer here) because I get to remember. You are grieving the way you need to . We are only human after all.

  7. Cynthia from Nebraska

    There’s no right or wrong way to grieve, no set timing, and even the order of the stages of grief can be different! I’ve found there is not necessarily logic to it, either. Your conclusions are wise, hugs from afar.

  8. I appreciate you sharing your grief and love with us. You are an important part of my day even though you don’t know me. Sending hugs and prayers to you!

  9. I’m 75 and have lost a lot of family and friends through the years. Some from car accidents, some from cancer, some just old age, but it doesn’t lessen the loss and grief. I recently (in June) lost someone very dear to me and I think about him almost every day and can’t quite come to grips that he is no longer around. Time truly is a great healer, but it doesn’t seem like it when we’re in the middle of grief and loneliness. It will get better, but only with time. Thank God you have a close, supportive family and you keep busy. I’m sending hugs and prays of comfort your way.

  10. I think our chosen life partner is the hardest to grieve. Just as you describe, the many moments each day that don’t happen leave such a hole both physically and emotionally. I think a time comes that we adjust to that absence as “normal” at some point even though it is never going to be OK. Jody’s death and grieving was “shelved” for this time and now you’re “ready” to grieve her as well.

    Be kind to yourself, as you’ve learned so well and shared with us through your many life experiences.

    Hugs to you Jo.

  11. In the words of our dear Queen Elizabeth II, “Grief is the price we pay for love”. Such true words and so timely for everyone, sooner than later. It is in our grief and our tears that we find peace and healing. It is fine to feel the way you do. You will once again rejoin your niece, Jody and your dear husband and feel the joy that you are missing now. God Bless you, Jo.

  12. One of my friends, 96 at the time, said that the hardest part about getting older was there was no one left who knew her when she was young. I think about that often. Grief is different for everyone. For me, the analogy that was meaningful was to think about a hole in a favorite coat. Thread by thread, memory by memory, you mend the hole. It will never be as good as new, but it will be sturdy and usable. Grief can still kick you in the gut, but it won’t knock you down.
    You and Jodi were like twins, on the same wavelength.

  13. I read your blog every day. This one touched my heart. I lost my Dad and my brother this time of year. I was close to both of them, the same memories. It is hard. Some years I suggle. Thank you for telling us about Jody. Somehow I feel less alone.

  14. Through you , I read all of Jody’s blog. I have been wondering how her husband and kids are doing. Could you provide an update?

    1. Hi Kathleen.
      Yes, I can provide an update. The oldest three are off starting their sophomore year in college. Each of them is doing great. Stacey is on track to graduate in three years…very typical of her. She’s a go-getter. Zach is big into show choir and music. Matthew is a great soccer player. He was so excited about his birthday as he was finally a teenager. For about 24 hours, all five of the kids were in their teens. Then the next day rolled about it was the triplet’s birthday and they turned 20. So fun. Jody’s husband is really doing a great job managing them all. Life is different for them all…but still good. I can still see Jody’s influence on them. I love that!!

  15. Joanne and Helen touched on what I wanted to convey. It is so hard to lose someone who “knew you when.” For me it was my sister who knew the family stories, the words that brought on the giggles, danced the schottische down the hall, taught me to sew, and on and on.

    May the love and laughter that came before your loss sustain you through the days ahead. Blessings to you and yours.

    1. Jennine. Life without my husband is so different but I’ve come to a point of acceptance. I’m sure you’ll get there too. HUGS!!

  16. I just lost my brother on August 2nd. It was sudden and a complete shock. He had no spouse or children, so all of the duties have fallen to me. Nothing prepared me for having to handle my brother’s funeral and estate.

    Random things will happen that bring him to mind. Like you said with Jody, we had that long background. I’ve known him since he was born. We had the same parents, the same siblings, shared memories. Now, my siblings are gone. All of our older relatives are gone. Grief is hard.

    Sending you love, hugs, and continued healing.

    1. Oh Janet. How kind of you to honor him one last time by caring for his estate and final wishes. Many comforting wishes to you and your family as you mourn his loss.

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