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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