Monday, December 15, 2014

I hope, I dream.

I feel compelled to write a new blog after I got so many people worried with my dark post on Facebook.

No! I don't want to die. Although I admit that one of the hardest struggles I have found about widowhood is that the life I had, pretty much died with my husband. Well, at least mine did. The hopes, dreams and plans that we had were buried with Ken. Every morsel of my being was changed because he is no longer here for me to love or be loved by him.

His vacancy left the obvious holes; no more him, no more seeing, smelling, holding, or sharing with him. As time passed, more holes appeared: no one to enjoy my cooking, no one to drive me around the countryside and no one to talk to in the intimate way I could talk to him. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so completely alone.

So, he dies. I’m still here. I am left to walk the earth without him and to carry on the plan. Carry on what plan?

It had taken me several months to come to grips with the fact that I need to create new plans. I need to dream and hope without him.

We all know that life is not fair. That life is a gift and a struggle. Life is not to be taken for granted or spent without meaning. And this give me strength to dream new dreams and hope new hopes and reshape my life into something I can live with and hopefully thrive in day after day.

The problem is that the struggle is hard. Some days, some weeks, some months are just too much for me to handle. Many times it left me wondering why? Why try again? Why move on? Why reinvent, re-imagine when so many of these days, I only end up exhausted and overwhelmed?

The only answer I can ever come up with is ... drum roll please ...there is no other way for me! I yearn for joy. I yearn to be someone my boys will look up to each day. I yearn to love and be loved.

Every day that I remember this, I build strength for another day. Every moment that I remember how much faith Ken had in me to carry on without him, I feel honored. Every time I feel the warmth of his love flow through me, I become revived a bit more.

I am revived and even given courage to take on my new dreams, my new hopes, no matter how much struggling lies before me.

So today, I will dream a bit and hope a bit. Every day I will try a bit more. And with each passing day, I will realize the new dreams, the new hopes, the new life that carries his love within me.

This new life may exist without him holding my hand, but it will never exist without him holding my heart. It will be a fusion of old and new. It will be a mix of what we wanted and what I am capable of doing without him.

I hope. I dream. And everyday I live, will bring me closer to me - reinvented.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Rainy Thursday.

I was awaken today by the heavy downpour outside. I can hear the raindrops beating rhythmically against the windowpane producing a chant of their own. "Stay in bed, stay in bed," over and over again. I can visualize the drabness of the day, the gray sky, the wetness of the street, the chill and discomfort of a rainy day. This is a perfect day to stay home.

Then I smiled knowing that rain or not, I stayed home most days in a self-imposed isolation anyway. Duh!

If you have been reading my blog, you know all too well by now that my loneliness had imprisoned me for the past four months. I made a conscious decision not to go out into the world and socialize. What for? I know that socializing with others would not automatically make me feel less alone or lonely knowing that I don't have that one person in my life who knows me better than I do. A sea full of people may help fill the void but it can not replace the closeness that I craved.

And since my isolation had prevented me to stay current with the goings-on in my town, how can I hold a conversation when I don't even have an interesting thing to talk about when I go out in public? I can't just comment about the weather all the time, can I?

My husband on the other hand was a well-read person with a high IQ that he could strike up a conversation with anyone on the face of the earth and hold his own on a wide variety of topics. I knew, because I watched him do it. He never forget anything he'd ever learned, read or saw. He has a knack of dishing out funny stories made up, or real. Of course, I know a little technique of engaging strangers in a conversation, I'm just not as good at it as he was. Sometimes I am able to threw a wise-crack in from time to time, but I am always an observer, not a participant.

Whoa...! The shrill ringing of the alarm intrudes on my journey of remembrance. I got out of bed as the heavy downpour now turned to drizzle. As much as I would love to spend this day indoor, however, responsibilities necessitate my going out. Today I have to take my car to the motor shop for an oil change -another one of those things I was forced to learn to do on my own. With Ken gone, I am faced with tackling tasks he did so well. Now you see why everyday I am constantly reminded of his absence.

On my way to the motor shop, the rain had stopped. All of a sudden I no longer felt the discomfort of the wet, miserable day. The gray drabness of the day had not changed, but it no longer appeared that way to me. I was oblivious of my physical surroundings, because I was thinking of the impact of yesterday's event. It warmed my heart to know that I have touched the life of someone I should have known three years ago. He is a revelation that I never expected to come in my most vulnerable time. Yet in the same breath had given me strength knowing that even with my husband gone, part of him will still be around.

I am home now yet the smile never left my face. I could feel the warmth of the sun hidden beyond those heavy, gray clouds.

Indeed the sun is always there behind the clouds...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dear Ken,

It’s Tuesday. I sit here wishing you would come through the door after a card game at the VFW.

I have many things to tell you. First and foremost, is that I am coping and I‘ve survived. That would surely make you happy because you always put me first, and wanted to see me secure and well. Even when you were struggling with your illness, you worry about me all the time. You knew how much I depended on you and how lost I'd be without you.

But I think you'd be proud of me as I am doing okay. This past month I did exactly what you told me to do. I sold the truck, the bike, the boat, the firearms, the shop. I have returned to work, and it felt good to be in touch with the outside world again.

Most important of all, I am still here at our home. I have no desire to move elsewhere. In fact, I have finished re-roofing the house and I am now getting on changing the sidings. I often find myself wondering what color would you have chosen, but then again I figure you will let me pick the color anyway. One of the worst regrets I have is that you couldn't have lived to see the new look.

I also felt guilty for inheriting everything you have worked for, your whole life. Even though I knew you arranged it so that I wouldn't have to struggle financially. Still, many times I felt bitter that you were cheated out of the years we planned to be carefree together. You wanted us to travel more, remember?

I miss you every day Ken, but I am getting better. I won't lie that this past weeks my feelings of misery was becoming less and less as you faded further into the past. I don't lay awake crying at night anymore, nor do I get up and roam the house, sobbing and cursing your untimely death. However, I do sometimes suddenly wake up early in the morning panicked and feeling something horrible has happened. Yet as I calmed myself, I would begin to realize that I'm okay, that nothing is wrong and I let my memories go from sorrow to joy, to our happy times together. But the one thing that will never go away is how I miss sharing every day's events with you. The small, insignificant, and the major ones too. I know mostly how you'd feel and respond, but still, I miss hearing you say it...and oh yes, I miss the comfort of your big bear hug, the overwhelming security of being wrapped in your strong arms.

Yet, as selfishly as I want you here with me, I would never have wanted you to have lived a moment in the kind of horrible pain and suffering that your illness would have caused you. I have accepted that your sudden death was a mercy granted you because you were a wonderful, caring, giving human being.
I'm not the only one who misses you. Both our families miss you and you live in their hearts as well. I have talked to so many people in the community who miss you too, and they always say they can't believe they won’t see you driving around town anymore. That is the legacy of a good man.

Yes, you are not perfect. You have made some bad choices in life, but who haven’t? I was not married to the person you were then, but the person that you have become.

I still love you Ken and I always will.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


When Ken died I took the responsibility of caring for the things he left behind. I did not expect that it entails so many activities. That dealing with the practical matters regarding the estate can be very overwhelming.

But I won't bore you with the tedious legal process. I will instead talk about the excitement of the auction event I just had.

“Well Jedd, I do need to sell this shop, and everything in it. Tell me you can help me.”

I was talking to my auctioneer Jedd Dulas while standing in the middle of the shop looking at all the stuff that Ken had accumulated over the years. Tools hanging from wall to wall and equipment that covered every space of the floor. Ken do not only own many tools, he has three or more of the same item. There are items still in original boxes, and many still with price tags on them.

“An auction of this property and the items here will draw a good crowd, get you good prices and I can get this behind you so you can worry about other things.”

That's the reply I wanted to hear and I believed him.

Mick and Mike thought that auctioning off our property and everything in it will prove to be both convenient and successful. Besides, in a competitive buying environment, they believe that selling by auction is the best way to achieve true market value for our property.

And they are correct. As always.

I have never been to an auction event before so I don't know what to expect. But knowing that I am letting go of things that Ken had worked hard to own over the years made me emotional. So it is an under statement if I say I was feeling giddy and nervous the morning of the auction day. I was glad though that Mick, Mike, Pat and Jim were there to support me, and my son Cedric made sure he captured the excitement of the moment.

There isn't anything more exciting than watching a bidding war take place over our stuff. Like any typical estate auction, there are equipment, tools, construction materials, furniture, electrical items, firearms, vehicles, property … all sorts of things.

Looking around the crowd, I think that most bidders came to buy fairly specific items. There are those who came merely for construction items and tools, while there are those who came for the vehicles and still those who just want firearms and still others who came solely to bid for the shop.

Jedd started from the items on the trailers and worked his way to the bigger ones and concluded with the firearms. He stood in front of a crowd of bidders and recited the bid he has, and the bid he wanted in a rapid fashion. Items were sold in as little as 15 seconds … typically concluded with the word, “Sold!” I was mystified by the fast-talking and repetitive numbers bellowing through the air as the mood built up. I could not keep up with numbers. It was so fast I could not even make out where he was at, by the time "sold" was called. Maybe that's just the way it should be so he can keep the bidders attention and get them emotionally involve. The fast rhythm seems to suggests an urgency, and sends out a message that one need to make a decision quick.

And quickly they responded, hence despite the massive number of items to sell, it was over by three in the afternoon. I was pleased by how my auction turned out. Everything was sold and I know those things will be put to good use by those who have bought them.

Now that is over, I can start worrying on other things...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


The past three nights have been rough. I am experiencing rapid heartbeats again which prevented me from getting a good night sleep. Why do I have these panic attacks just when I am trying to sleep?

I thought I have dealt with my grief the right way. For the past months, I had allowed myself to wallow in my misery. When Ken died, all I did was talk and write about him. It kept him alive - the memories, the laughs, the good times, and even the bad times. I have photos of Ken around the house, in my tablet, as my screensaver. I turned on my computer and say hi to him. I asked him to help me get through the day. He may be gone, but he is in my sight at all times.

I would drive around the county tracing back the road where we have been while listening to his favorite songs. It was hard at first, but now I find it strangely comforting. I conjured him up, I think of what he might say if he was with me - although it cannot be as funny and spontaneous as Ken would have put it.

I also blogged about him incessantly and even though the pain didn’t totally retreat, somehow, it lost its hold on me … until evening comes.

Perhaps because I always end up playing the “what if” game in my mind each night. Once I let it in, it consumed me. I was not so much exhausted with the process of grief, but more about how busy my mind has become with everything but that. I would lay awake at night going over and over How, Why, or What if. I became obsessed, convinced that if I worked out How, I could have change the event and he would still be alive. I also think of all the times I did not tell him I loved him or hugged him, for it is never enough now that he is gone.

It’s almost three months since Ken died but I don’t miss him any less. I can still trace the crater where he once stood. Although slowly I have come to embrace the awful moments, the sad moments, the inevitable times when I remember he’s no longer at the end of the phone, or at the VFW playing cards, or driving somewhere around town.

I am hopeful though that sadness, like everything, is not permanent.

Jim and I will visit you on Memorial Day, Ken. Till then.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Empty Closet.

Cleaning out Ken’s closet presented a significant challenge. It's amazing how much clothes he accumulated over the years.

It became obvious to me that before I met him he liked seeing an overstuffed closet because it mean he can put off doing laundry one more day. Actually, Ken rarely shops, but when he does, he always end up buying more clothes than he can wear.

As I was taking each item out, I cried and was blind sighted by grief. It is because I find mementos of things we did together in the pockets of his shirt and jackets - ticket stubs, handwritten notes, receipts and toothpicks. Yes, lots of toothpicks. As I went through each item, certain memories came to mind. I savored these memories and allowed myself to drown in whatever feeling it manifests.

My tears turned into sobs and smiles into laughter. And it felt perfectly okay.

I knew I have to give away his clothes, shoes, and other personal item because seeing them in his closet was more than I could bear. They gave the impression that he would be back. But of course, he won't.

By the way, when I say “cleaning out the closet,” it is not just the bedroom. It included his work office, the garage, the basement, the shop and the pile of papers that have accumulated since he died.

I started boxing up his belongings. Every shirts, and pants, and vests and jackets. I packed every bit of his that remained.

Or so I thought.

When I looked at the basement closet I saw an organized chaos that comprise the packed spaced room. More work clothes, boots, more jackets. It was evident that he had not accessed the basement closet in years. And yet Ken had held on to these things because he was trying to hold on to pieces of his past, much like I was attempting to hold on to pieces of his.

I did not start small. I hauled everything all at once because this is something that must not be repeated. It is an action of permanence. Once these items are removed, they are removed completely. Whether I decide to have a garage sale, donate them to charity, or give them to a friend, they will immediately be put to use by those who need them.

But there were things I couldn't, and wouldn't, part with. The no-brainers were the books from his childhood with inscriptions from his parents. Personal correspondence stayed, and so did name badges for events he attended and old greeting cards. The army jacket, now hangs in my closet next to my own clothes. Very occasionally, I bury my nose in it.

I did not realize that sorting through tangible memories can be more difficult than grappling with the intangible ones. They can shape and reshape memories in my head.

I guess objects, in their very concreteness, tell a more relentlessly truthful story.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Almost "There".

Those of you who had been following my blog would have noticed that I began to write a little bit every week after Ken died. That's because I want to record my current state of emotions. I am not embarrassed to openly express my feelings because they are real and writing about them is something that provided me with an excellent emotional outlet. I wrote some, cried some, reread and cried some more each time I returned to write another post.

You may ask if that's how I am healing my grief. Well, I would be quick to point out that I am doing much more than write. I am taking long walks, driving around the countryside, taking care of things at home and surrounding myself with loving friends and family. You name it, I used every tool available. I also kept on reviewing pictures, slide shows, mementos, letters and cards that will elicit pain because having these feelings helped draw out the anguish in my heart which will ultimately contribute to healing my grief. I do not strive to "get over it" or " move on" from Ken's death. Instead, I woke up each morning confident that Kenny is walking with me into each new adventure I face.

It took some time for me to get here, but I have learned how to walk with my grief. Perhaps because I felt the love and support of many as I moved forward into new days and weeks.

I would like to mention those who have helped me a great deal through this process.

First and foremost are Mick and Patrick. Their support has always been so quiet, unassuming and steady, and I know they would hate me to shout from the rooftop about it. But I have always felt their encouragement, their unconditional acceptance of my choices and the comfort of their presence. While they are sharing the same grief, they continually offer their love and understanding which has meant more to me than I can express.

To Tom, Mike, Randy, Greg and Lisa: While I don’t see you as often as I would like, I want you to know that I thank all of you for embracing me into the family. Please let me know if there is any way I can bring kindness and light into your own life the way you did for me.

I thank those who reached out, who periodically checked on me, dropped by, or sent me wonderful messages. Special shout-out to my family who were with me every step of the way - and still are. I pray for the blessings for what all of you have done and continue to do.

And last but not the least, to Jim. You are a miracle. I don't know any other way to explain how much help you have been lately. You probably helped more than you think you did.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sleepless in Wells.

I have trouble sleeping last night, as most other nights, in the past three months. So I figured I might as well put my insomnia to good use by blogging about it.

For most people, sleep is not an issue. You turn off the lights, you go to sleep, what’s the big deal?

Then picture this:

It’s almost midnight. I have watched all the shows I have recorded in my DVR, and I’ve finally gotten all settled into bed. My body felt tired but my brain is still thinking leftover thoughts from the day I’ve just had.

Hours go by.

The clock ticked, and I am no closer to falling asleep at 3 a.m. than I was at 10 p.m. Morning comes early and I find myself groggy, grumpy, and more depressed than I was the day before. It's good that I don't have a work to go to or I would not be able to concentrate on my task.

I have had more nights like this than I would like to admit.

Most times I told myself that this is just a result of being knocked off the loop. I still felt the piercing, painful sense of loss and longing. I thought that feeling this way for a few weeks, a few months, or even longer is normal since I am still able to carry out most activities and obligations of daily living. I am sure I am not a typical depressed person who’s thoughts are uniformly gloomy. I do experienced sadness in waves, often a response to some reminder of Ken but they are also interspersed with positive thoughts and memories. I am certain that my life will get back to normal and that I will once again feel like my old self.

But it is still a pain in the butt to have routinely restless nights, to find it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep, to toss and turn and watch the clock, to feel too tired to get up but not tired enough to fall asleep.

Also because my eyes look tired all the time. Oh well...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Thank you, Kenny.

There is discipline in A Soldier you can see it when he walks,
There is honor in A Soldier you hear it when he talks.
There is courage in A Soldier you can see it in his eyes,
There is loyalty in A Soldier that he will not compromise.
There is something in A Soldier that makes him stand apart,
There is strength in A Soldier that beats from his heart.

A Soldier isn't a title any man can be hired to do,
A Soldier is the soul of that man buried deep inside of you.
A Soldier's job isn't finished after an 8 hour day or a 40 hour week,
A Soldier is always A Soldier even while he sleeps.
A Soldier serves his country first and his life is left behind,
A Soldier has to sacrifice what comes first in a civilian's mind.

If you are civilian - I am saying this to you.....
next time you see A Soldier remember what they do.
A Soldier is the reason our land is 'Home of the free',
A Soldier is the one that is brave protecting you and me.
If you are A Soldier - I am saying this to you.....
Thank God for EVERY SOLDIER Thank God for what YOU do!

~ by Angela Goodwin ~

Thursday, April 17, 2014

One Down, More To Go.

Ken has lived in this same house for over thirty years - this house where so many memories linger.

It is so hard to be in the same house without him. This is his house, and it felt like he should be here, just around the corner in the kitchen or in the TV room. Every space is filled with his life – his medicines and classic car magazines, his tools and his cards.

His belonging surrounds me.

From his shaving kit in the bathroom, his hearing aids on the night stand, to his keys by the door. Everywhere I turn there is a reminder of Ken.

Although some of these items can be comforting, many, are just small and painful reminders of his absence in the house. There is a part of me, which want to leave the house the way it is, a perfect time capsule.

How could I possibly change this house where Ken has lived half of his life? I want so much to hold on to everything forever.

But I know I can’t. There it is. It sucks. So what do I do?

Sadly, the reality is that there are some items that need to get taken care of sooner rather than later and sometimes big decisions need to be made. Add to that, there is no getting around it. Logic tells me that I need to sell some of his belongings and I know I can part with them without feeling guilty.

The other day, I sold his truck.

The trip from the house to the buyer was incredibly difficult, because let’s face it - I am letting go of something that Ken is so proud to have. Driving behind the truck on our way to the buyer was quite emotional because it triggered memories of our many trips around the countryside. But as tears started to well up my eyes, I realized that I may have given up the truck but I am keeping the most precious item – the wonderful memories of our life together that I can revisit over and over again.

With that in my mind, I felt better and was able to go through the sell without breaking down.

Next stop, the daunting task of clearing his shop, his closet and selling more motor vehicles.

God help me.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Grief 101.

If death is inevitable, irreversible and universal, then why was I not equipped with the first-hand knowledge of how to deal with it?

I was not taught in school the subject titled GRIEF. I did not have the subject of grief sandwiched between Math and English. When death invaded my family circle, no one sat down with me to explain how the family dynamics would change. None. It is simply amazing that something as much a part of life as birth we avoid discussing at all cost. No wonder I am so unprepared for the emotions and changes grief brought into my life.

Allow me to walk you through my grief.

When I am paralyzed with grief, it affected me emotionally. I became numb and everything seemed to move in slow motion. I am not sure of what is going on around me as my emotions are unpredictable. I am confused, irritable, depressed, have bouts of weeping, afraid and angry. I felt helpless, lonely, sad, guilty and I could not concentrate as I am preoccupied with thoughts of Ken.

Then the physical. Grief throws a punch in my gut. It seemed like chemical changes were taking place in my body while I am under duress. I have stomach aches, headaches, tight neck and shoulder muscle, difficulty sleeping, racing heartbeat, lack of appetite, nervousness, difficulty breathing, chest pains, and fatigue.

I also struggle spiritually with grief. As a logical creature that love control, I am always trying to connect the dot to make sense of something. But when I am being forced to accept the death of my husband, there really is no connecting of the dots. I have to accept that I can not be God and that I too will die some day. But even that in mind, I still become irritable, withdrawn, felt abandoned, distant and isolated.

Death affected me emotionally, physically and spiritually. It is monumental. Grief feels like an emotional bottomless pit.

I need rest.

Some people say that keeping one self busy may help. But I don't feel like going back to work right now as I feel emotionally and physically exhausted. I need more time to calm my mind. It is simply too difficult for me to think about the next hour much less the next day or month.

Hey, don't worry. Things will get better. I will survive.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Still in the dark.

I woke up today in my new normal – scared and lonely.

The frenzy over memorial preparations had died down. Most family members and friends had drifted back to their normal routines, while here I am, left alone to ponder the questions, “What do I do now? How do I begin to take the first step on the road back to happiness? Will I ever be happy again?

My happiness is gone along with the death of my husband.

When Ken and I first found each other, we experienced a joy unlike any we had known before. Many were the times when we just stood in awe looking at each other, wondering how the miracle had ever happened.

Now, all I have left is intense grief. It seems like grief has no time limit or boundaries and this one will certainly last a lifetime as I will always mourn the love I have lost and the happy times we would have spent together.

Ken will continue to be a part of the fabric of my life whether I can see him physically or not. Every day I feel like there is a large hollow spot in my heart.

It is not necessarily painful or even lonely. It is difficult to describe in words other than a hollow place, that nothing or no one could possibly fill.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Memorial.

We did it!

We gave Ken a memorial service that truly honored him and gave him the send-off he deserved.

While the memorial service is a farewell, it was also a celebration of life and happiness that Ken has brought into our life. It was a bittersweet remembrance of wonderful times shared with family and friends. Memories that will forever live on in our hearts and minds.

The first part has Pastor Chuck reading the passage from the Bible about a time to live and a time to die. I heard these words hundreds of times, but this time they seemed to speak directly to me. It somehow explained to me that I will still hurt and at times be overwhelmed with the pain, but in time, I should be able to relate to my loss in a new way and seek ways to move on with my life.

The second part was the sharing of stories. Siblings and friends reflected on the funny side of Ken, his interest, his career, his passion, his mischiefs, his tenderness among others. These elicited some laughter from attendees. From the stories shared, I gathered that Ken has not lived a perfect life by any means as he had certainly made his share of mistakes. But it also allowed us to admire the strength of character that he had displayed throughout his life. It is nice to hear stories about Ken that I haven’t heard before. On special days, or any day, remembering these stories will make me smile as I reflect on the difference Ken had made on someone else’s life.

Then, there was the slide show. Photos that was able to capture 65 years of his journey. A fitting tribute that allowed those who might not have known him very well to have a glimpse of the life he had. This was the toughest part because these photos speak volumes. They remind the viewer of the happy times spent with Ken and most of us did not succeed in holding our tears as we watched it.

Finally, the three volley gun salute done by the Wells Color Guard. I never thought a salute can wrench emotion from one’s soul. I simply cannot hold back tears when shots echoed through the streets of our town and TAPS was played. It was a signal that lights has to be extinguished, that the ceremony has reached its completion.

I thank everyone who came to celebrate Ken's life with us. I am touched by the gesture of profound love and admiration you all have shown to my husband.

But most of all, I'm proud of my new family. They helped me get through this tough times and they promised to continue to be there for me for tougher times ahead. Thank you guys. I am truly blessed to have found Ken because I also discovered you!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Black or White.

I am in panic mode.


Thinking about clothes is the last thing I want to do especially at this time when the memorial service is nearing. I have a lot of clothes, the fruit of 4 years of thrift-shopping and bargain-hunting. And yet, when I checked my closet, I found that literally nothing I owned was appropriate for the event.

In the Philippines, when a family member dies, we all wear white. I was thinking of doing the same, till I realized it would seem odd. Black is still the norm here and at present I don't have a black outfit. I was thinking of buying a black dress, however it is too cold to wear one. A black pants and top would be more appropriate but finding one to suit the occasion is not easy. I scoured so many isles of different department stores looking for one yet none has caught my fancy.

I am looking for something conservative, subdued and comfortable. Although the service will not be held in a religious place of worship, I would still want to look respectful. I need something that will make me feel dignified and strong. I know I will be spending a lot of time on my feet, and that my mind will be on many other things, that's why I need something I would feel entirely comfortable and happy wearing.

You might argue that the point of the memorial is to show my love, share my burden of grief, and to celebrate Ken's life. It’s not a fashion show, nor a place for others to judge my attire (and those who do, probably have no need to be there). But it's an event I may have to revisit over and over through pictures and videos and I want to see myself looking tasteful and polished.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Hanging in There.

I continue to grieve the physical finality of losing Ken and I am trying very hard to come to grip with the fact that I will not see him again in this life.

It is not easy.

Everyday I wrestle with the feelings of loneliness and anger of being alone. Sleepless nights and the pressure of sudden responsibilities had taken a huge toll on my physical and mental energy. Even routine things seem to take more effort. It felt like all the strength had gone out from my body. I didn't see a reason to get out of bed. I had to use all the tricks I had learned just to get the day started.

Many people tried to comfort me but unless they have experienced loss, they can't fathom the sick, gut wrenching feeling that come with losing someone. My husband was everything to me. He took good care of me in every way and made all the major decisions. Now I feel so scared and alone to be doing all I need to do, things I've never done before and not having my greatest supporter by my side is truly worrisome.

When Ken was still around, part of his strategy for enjoying things is to share it with me. He would take me to the lake to watch the birds that have migrated there, or look for deer and other wildlife. We even traveled north to witness the changing of the leaves. I took that photo above in one of our trips. Everything always seems better when we share it together. But now that he is gone my ability to enjoy these things had declined, especially since he made me feel important and loved in a daily basis.

When people asked me, "How are you doing?", I would normally respond " Hanging in there."

But I don't even understand where is "there". Is it a definite destination? Will I even know once I get there that I am finally "there"? Will I feel a lot better knowing I have arrived?

Or maybe, it is just a process. I hang on till I turned a corner - a corner of acceptance. Not necessarily the acceptance of losing Ken, but accepting the emotions that come with it.

Oh I wish I am "there" already.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Obituary.

Kenneth Roger Mikolai, age 65, of Wells, Minnesota, suffered a stroke on February 20 and passed away on February 22, 2014, with his wife at his bedside at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis where he had been a patient since June 16, 2013.

Kenny was born in Mankato, Minnesota, on October 29, 1948, to Roger and Joan (Willaert) Mikolai. He grew up on a farm east of Wells, in Faribault County. He attended St. Casimir's Elementary School and graduated from Wells High School in 1966. He served his country in the US Army, enlisting in January 1969. After completing basic training in Missouri he spent a year in Vietnam as a Traffic Controller. While on active duty he was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and Army Commendation Medal. He was honorably discharged in October 1970.

Prior to enlisting in the US Army Ken worked at FM Stamper in Wells. After his military service he worked for Nordaas American Homes of Minnesota Lake, building base structures for homes in Wells and nearby towns. After leaving NAH he was part of Mikolai and Harris Construction and later Ken Mikolai Masonry Construction until his retirement.

Ken married Cathryn Elaine Herbst in 1984. They were divorced in 2002. On February 8, 2011 Kenny married Judy (Odette) Bautista in a civil ceremony in Blue Earth, Minnesota. Ken and Odette enjoyed touring around the countryside in his truck or on his Harley. In his earlier years he enjoyed playing card games with his friends at the VFW, cooking at the VFW for special events, boating, fishing, and meat processing at the family farm. After he retired he still liked playing cards or simply tinkering around in his shop. He also enjoyed watching old movies at home or listening to his vast collection of old songs. He was an avid Minnesota Vikings fan always watching every single game of the season. Before his stroke he was searching online for the team's probable 2014 draft picks.
Ken was an active member of the American Legion and the VFW. He served as Quartermaster Commander of VFW Post 1778 from 1974 to 1975.

Ken is survived by his wife Odette and stepsons Alquin, Benjie-Al, and Cedric Dy. He is also survived by his sister Dorothy (Mick) and Patrick O'Connor of Lino Lakes, his brothers Tom of New Hope, Mike (Gloria) of Pemberton, Randy of Minneapolis, Greg (Kellie) of Palisade, Colorado, and his sister Lisa and her husband Bob Long of Miami, Florida. Ken is also survived by nieces Tricia and Mindi, nephews Jeremy, Barry, Tim, Bridger and Logan. Ken was preceded in death by his parents Roger and Joan, grandparents Albert and Anna Mikolai and grandparents Henry and Therese Willaert.

A Memorial Service will be held from 2:00 to 3:00 pm on Saturday, April 5, 2014 at the Wells Community Center located at 189 2nd Street SE. A celebration of Ken’s life will continue until 5:00 pm.

A private internment with Military Honors will be at Fort Snelling National Cemetery at a later date.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Great Medical Team.

I was so thrilled and touched to get a card in the mail from the SCI/D unit of the VA Medical Center today. But reading the messages in it made me cry because once again it brought back memories of the last eight months I had spent in the hospital with Ken.

It felt so nice however to know I am being thought of. I did not expect that the doctors, nurses, therapists and staff would continue to think about me after I left the hospital for good. Every single one of them had given Ken and I such wonderful care and support. I know that my life will forever be touched by everyone who cared for Ken, rooted and cheered him on.

FYI, Kenneth room has a virtual revolving door. If a nurse or aide leaves, another one enters to stay with him. He was on one-on-one watch 24/7. They were very patient with him even when he was difficult to deal with at times. Ken was a fighter. He fought hard to stay with me when so many odds were against him. And with the help of the SCI staff, he fought even harder.

I thank them for being there with me when I was scared and does not understand what was going to happen next. They showed me so much compassion.

Thank you so much guys!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Have I Told You...

Have I told you Kenneth had died?

No, I guess not.

Maybe because all I have done since he passed away is sleep and cry. I just don't know if life will ever have meaning for me again. I ached for Ken every day, and I still search for him at night, as I used to do when I would check on him. I talk to him sometimes, all alone, but obviously I don't hear anything back. I just want him back! And yet I know he will never be back. How do I move past this grief? How do I move on? I know I should have seen this coming, as his recovery was like an obstacle course in the past eight months, but I was woefully unprepared for this kind of loss. I think I didn't want to believe it could happen.

When I got home from the hospital after Ken died, I was overwhelmed with emotions. Grief - how could he be gone? And anger - how could he leave me? I was just about ready to renovate his bedroom! I was already planning for activities we can do together when he is finally released from the hospital. I am excited to hear his voice echo in our house again.

Right now our house felt empty. There are no other voices/sobs I hear but mine. I shed tears as I walk around the house knowing that I am now alone. We have spent only three years together, yet we created so many memories. Losing Ken had changed my entire life. I feel completely lost and totally uncomfortable making even minor decisions. Not that I haven't made decisions before. But... Ken was always there. And now he was not.

It has been a month to this day since Ken left me. The first week was mercifully numbing. Much of the time I sleep walked through the things I had to do. So numb that I was often completely unaware of what was going on around me. The next week I went from depression to panic attacks, back to depression to not sleeping, to sleeping too much, to never leaving the house, to not wanting to go back to the house. The weeks that followed were both utterly full and completely empty ... full of activity yet empty of life. I felt cut off from everything that I thought was my life. But there are preparations I need to do, people I need to talk to which somehow brought me out of my darkness, only to find myself standing alone and confused on some strange and unfamiliar shore, full of feelings and memories, but also feeling utterly lost. The town I have come to love suddenly look like a different place, often odd and distanced. I am are not sure how to cope with life in general, and sometimes I even wondered if I even want to try.

I didn't think it was possible to think about someone as many times a day as I think of him. I am missing Ken so much.

Yes, I will always miss him and I know that the sadness will remain forever. But he brought me so much joy also. I am grateful for the three years I had spent with him, that I was blessed with his goodness and love. I will always have that love.

I am grateful that he is resting now and has no more worries.

Goodnight Ken. Sleep tight.


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