A Penny, A Prayer and A Legacy

The boys and I received pennies in church last week. I wrote down a prayer request and Edward put it in a basket with the other prayer requests. He brought a penny back, like everyone was instructed to by Pastor. This penny is to remind me of this prayer request.

Truth be told, the prayer was for me.

A prayer for comfort, peace, and direction. Comfort as I head into the third year without my husband by my side. Peace to fill my heart for the holiday season. And guidance for direction in my life.

I put the penny on our microwave where I’d see it often. Ironically, the boys came home with six pennies each on Monday after an exercise about honesty at daycare. Seeing all these coins is a good reminder to pray for help and lay my problems down for the Lord.

Two years ago, I went through the worst week of my life. It started on Sunday and ended on a Friday evening when my loving husband passed away. There was very little time to process how fast the end of Adam’s life came and how it all happened.

Adam and I knew the end was near. We had met with palliative care days before his last week of life to begin some end of life planning. Time ran out for any of these wishes to happen or be carried out. Instead, we had fifteen minutes in between his oncologist delivering me news we should move to hospice before our parents all came in to visit.  What a short conversation for us; for him to share his wishes for me to love again, hear him tell me “I’d be okay”. In between nurses and family that week we’d sneak in funeral questions, bank and billing questions, things at 33 you should not be talking about

This last week of his life, the last week of our marriage was full of searing pain, yet exploded with love. There was also a sense of comfort and peace. I felt this peace especially when we entered into hospice. The only way I can explain this feeling, and my ability to pray and help guide Adam to his eternal peace was from your prayers.

This week ,since the penny came home from church, I have felt peace again. Every time I saw the penny in the kitchen, I’d say “please give me comfort, peace and direction God.”  God is good; I have really felt comfort this week that I haven’t felt since he died.

I still think about about the painful days during Adam’s illness. The memories are scars left in me and honestly, I don’t ever want to forget them because it reminds me to be thankful for life, health, and our sons.

But what I can now see in this second year of living with my grief, is prayers are not always answered how we want. We practiced healing prayer every week with our Pastor. Nightly, I led and prayed with Adam.

I have to carry the burden and balance feelings of being thankful, angry, and bitter.  Thankful God peacefully took him home to heaven, free of cancer and pain. Angry my sons will never truly know their own father and madness our love story was cut short. Bitter I was robbed of a loving marriage and the life with my best friend.

And again, thankful God is still with me and answering prayers. Sending me new relationships and strengthening others to help me find my way in this new life. Giving me peace and comfort during this week where I remember Adam drifting away from me, going where I can’t yet. 

At 33 years old, I didn’t expect I’d have to rebuild my life. No “job”, a full time mommy to a baby and a preschooler at my side. But this is the life I was given and I am going to live it. I am going to love life and honor Adam’s legacy. I am going to honor my promise to him, “I’ll be okay.”

Reading, volunteering, traveling, and most of all time with his sons were the things he wished he had more of when when we talked. Coming from the man who always had a couple of books on the nightstand; would offer or say yes to help family or friends; who was always ready and willing to book a flight and go. A man who loved his sons and wife more than life itself.

Those very things he wished more of, I will carry on for him. Ironic now, how reading and writing have become two ways I cope best with my grief.  When I travel, I am able to shed a little layer of guilt and pain. Volunteering with cancer caregivers and widows helps me find a way to kick the aftermath of cancer. I will live my days to honor Adam and his legacy by being the best mom I can be to our sons. 

No regrets.

Miss you sweetie. I love you more. You’re still the best!

Support Groups & Counseling: Helpful Gifts

Support groups and counseling have provided a safe place for me to talk. To share vivid dreams and signs from Adam. People who understand my anger, awkward widow humor, and the secondary losses of losing a spouse.

The first group I was invited to was December 2015. I was not thrilled to be sent an invitation to the Young Cancer Wives support group on Facebook. 

This woman, kind enough to reach out when her husband had just entered hospice care. Their sons were a little older than ours when he was diagnosed with colon cancer two and a half years prior. 

My husband was not going to die. He was going to defy the odds and survive well into his 40s at least. Her husband died a few weeks later. We were on opposite ends of the spectrum from my perspective.

Meet Catherine.

She has become one of my best friends. We have only met in person twice but she understands me. She gets me because we are living a “what the hell happened” kind of life and finding ways to move forward. Finding ways to feel joy again.

She gave me her number and answered any time I called. If Cat was on a home visit for work, she’d text me as soon as possible. Cat was the one who walked me through how to talk with Edward about his Daddy dying, about the funeral, about death. 

Cat provides support and offers advice as a fellow widowed, solo mother who is dating.  Sometimes we just call to say a lot of f-bombs together. Because nothing makes us feel better then talking for 15 minutes and seeing how many swear words we can fit in.

I went to this online support group she invited me into when it felt like the bottom to my life was falling out. When I didn’t know what to say to the endless offers of help, they gave me practical advice.

They shared their experiences of having babies when their husbands were on chemo. Tips on how to prep myself.  If there were any ways to prepare someone for cancer, chemo, and a newborn baby this group would know.

Women who helped me care for myself and support Adam through his surgeries, chemo, emotional ups and downs. 

Caregivers who became widows. Supporting me in a way nobody else could when it was time for hospice.

In March, I will have the privilege of meeting the founder of this group and other fellow caregivers. Sadly, most of us are now widows. It is because of these groups that I have found ways to help fellow caregivers through Cocktails and Chemo.

When Adam died, Widows Don’t Wear Black (for cancer widows) and The Hot Young Widows Club became the only reason I’d log in to Facebook or Instagram. This group of strangers grateful to have each other. All of us wishing we would have never met.  

Meet Anna 

It took a little more work to find a support group we could physically go to. Our social worker from the cancer center knew about a family grief support group through Fairview Health Services.

As I retold the events of how my sons and I arrived at this group, a woman across the circle kindly stared. She asked if she could go next.  Anna’s s husband died less then a month after Adam from colon cancer. Their story was almost identical to ours.

Fast forward to today. Anna and her two children have become an extension of our family. She is an incredibly important person in my life. 

Our oldest boys are a year apart in age, our youngest also a year difference in age. We have morning play dates and supper dates with all four kids. It is always loud, a mess, and we can never guess who will eat and who won’t. 

We rarely get in five minutes of adult conversation without interruptions but that never stops us from trying.

It is helpful to have someone nearby to relate to. Our oldest sons especially benefit from playing with another child whose “daddy died of cancer too.” As her youngest daughter and my Reggie start to identify their grief, they will lean on one another.

As mothers, we lean on one another. 

We have helped each other with dishes and laundry when the other was sick. When getting to regular counseling sessions became difficult with my new schedule, our weekly dates at the zoo became my grief therapy. 

Regardless of how our grief is affecting us in the moment, we can get each other to smile. She laughs at my inappropriate jokes. We encourage and inspire one another. There is an exchange of f-bombs when the kids are not within ear shot. (Disclaimer: young widows love the f-bomb.) 

Without social media, I wouldn’t have made new friendships.

Without our social worker at the hospital, I wouldn’t have found the family grief support group or my grief counselor.

A large part of why I am a survivor is because of these gifts.

Survival: The Biggest Gift

We survived our first 5K on a hot and humid morning. (2011) 

Survival was the biggest gift.

I do not remember much from the first six months.  Family, friends, and our nannies helped often and frequently with the boys so I could merely survive this new life I didn’t ask for.  Shock helped protect me but around July it started to wear off.

August was a wake up call when I was blessed with the shingles. Blessed? It wasn’t a blessing at the time but I can look back now and see it was.

It helped me realize several things. My antidepressant was NOT working. I was on such a low dose but honestly, never felt like I needed it. My medication was increased when I got the shingles because people in their 30’s get shingles from lack of sleep, stress, and a low immune system.

I turned into a zombie from the increased dose. I was exhausted and no amount of coffee or naps helped. In November, I couldn’t take it anymore. Six weeks later on a new medication, I am not exhausted anymore. My highs actually feel high and I can feel the lows too. My mood has leveled out and I can function better.

I needed to find ways to get quality sleep and take better care of myself. While I have not found the answers to simplifying life with two busy boys, it has improved.  The new medication and taking melatonin before bed has greatly improved my overall health.

In November, instead of turning to wine to drown my sorrow, I joined the YMCA. I can workout while they boys play; instead of trying to exercise at home with them literally under my feet, asking for a snack every two seconds. I am enjoying exercise again, something I got away from when the lows became more frequent then the highs. It has been key to my mental and physical health.

Okay, so you might be asking yourself, “Why is she sharing her medical chart with us?” Antidepressants get a bad name and some people assume they are for the weak or grieving. I think that is absolutely wrong. I was on an antidepressant in college for about six months. Sometimes these medications are long term and sometimes they help your body and mind get through stressful situations until you can maintain balance again. There is no shame in asking your doctor about a prescription.

Exercise. Simple right? Simple to skip, that is what I think. I go through phases this last year where I think, “Why even try to be healthy? Adam exercised, ate well, and lost weight the years before he was diagnosed and it didn’t matter. Eating organic didn’t matter. Drinking only once a week didn’t matter. Why will it be the difference if I exercise, eat well, and limit my (bottles of…) wine?”

Honestly, I don’t know what to believe is the right answer to prevent cancer anymore. Fitness didn’t prevent Adam’s body from overproducing cancerous cells. I do know it was one of the things he did that helped his body and mind feel better. Exercise helped him feel in control of something. It helped him survive when he felt terrible.

I think about us going to the gym together over the years. The body pump and cycle classes we went to. The session of yoga classes he took with me at a studio. Imagine Adam in yoga? Yeah, it was as hilarious as you are imagining! He did it though and never complained. He started running with me one summer and we ran a 5K. He even stepped in and ran with my friend when I was injured so she didn’t have to run the race we planned to do together. We walked the river boulevard probably a hundred times when we lived in St. Paul and biked by the river.

When I get in a rut and don’t want to exercise, I think about Adam. I think about him going for a walk when he was wearing his pump for chemo. I think about him walking after his surgery in summer and how every step was like climbing a mountain for him. Getting back to fitness has helped me feel better overall and has been a big factor in surviving.

I survived a lot this year. Even something as simple as eating and going to a body pump class brings a constant flood of memories with Adam. I trust I will survive all the happy and sad memories next year too.

Survival, the biggest gift of 2017.

 

 

 

Merry Christmas Adam’s Pack

Julianna, Reginald (19 months) & Edward (4)

I am grateful for the blog posts I wrote this last year, the status updates on social media, and the pictures I took. These help me remember the pain, the good times, and the accomplishments. My hope in sharing these with you is that in some way, my blog helps you. 

Why do I want to remember the pain? This is really very simple for me. I want to remember the heartache because it is from pain I have grown. It is how we all grow. 

If I have learned anything this last year, it is to be grateful. It is “okay, to not be okay.” It is to find ways to be patient amidst trying times. It is to continue living and loving fully, with no regrets.

We have enjoyed all of the holiday cheer mailed to us, thank you! As we close out the year, I am going to share with you each day a gift 2017 brought. Stay tuned this week of Christmas to hear more about them. I will share a little cheer, some hope, and a lot of honesty. 

Here is a preview of The Gifts of 2017 we were blessed with. 

Survival was the biggest gift.

Support groups and grief counseling were the most helpful gifts.

New hobbies were the gifts that helped find joy. 

Going back to work was the hardest gift to accept.

Organizing and starting the Minneapolis Cocktails and Chemo Chapter was the most rewarding gift.  

Dating was the most unexpected gift.

Edward, Reginald, and Matilda were my favorite gifts!

We wish you a blessed Christmas and New Year.

Live, Love, No Regrets.

Julianna, Edward, & Reginald

My Adam Story (Eulogy)

I met Adam in the first grade at Our Lady of Lourdes. For those of you who may not know me my name is Chris Witt; or as Adam would call me, “Witter” or “Manchild” which I became known as after moving in with Adam and Julie four years ago.

I talked to Adam, maybe, five times a year on the phone, and after a few minutes he would always say we should hang up so we have something to talk about when I get there. This might be more than five minutes, but after being friends for 29 years, there are a lot of memories to be shared.

My earliest memories of Adam began around the fourth grade when I was still reading the boxcar children books. He showed up to school with the new book he checked out from the library by Stephen King. I remember thinking that was pretty cool. I had my mom take me to the library and I checked out my own Stephen king book. After about 50 pages and a few nights of nightmares, I hung it up and left it to Adam to tell me what each book was about as he cycled through them.

I remember our first sleepovers, playing pool in his basement and Adam showing me his wrestling ring and all of his action figures. What stands out most about our earliest of memories, was getting dropped off at his grandma’s farm with BB guns and walking around trying to shoot pigeons. I doubt we got any but regardless we found a common interest in hunting which became a big part of our friendship.

As we started high school, our friendship grew. I remember one Friday night we didn’t have anything to do. Adam and I sat on a park bench in town and hung out until we figured out what we should do next. We would laugh at the same ten cars driving across town and wait for them to come back once they reached the city limits. I think we called it “park benching”, so for the next few years it was the running joke when we couldn’t figure out what to do on a Friday or Saturday night.

Adam was very wise for his age. In physics class, he knew that neither of us were any good at math, nor did we have much interest in physics. Adam would cleverly sit next to the smartest person in the class and made sure to chat him up so that we could copy his work when we needed to. It was also around this time, Adam figured out I was an easy target for a laugh. I would always be the butt of his jokes and it was impossible to be mad at him for it. From that point on, almost every conversation would turn into a way for him to make fun of me in some way.

Through the years I played football and baseball with Adam. In the tenth grade, we went to Thief River Falls which was at least a three hour drive. We found our seats next to each other on the bus like we always did, and then complained neither of us had any room. We swore the next time we would sit with someone smaller, which never happened.

A memorable New Years Eve in the cities with friends. Where there was Crown and Bacardi with these two, there was always an emrace!

It was toward the end of high school when our friends decided to build a fish house. I don’t recall Adam ever putting a line down, but he was always there with us and the fish house became the weekend hangout spot. When it came time to take the fish house off the ice, Adam didn’t want to miss out on an adventure so he tagged along. We started loading it up in the middle of the night, in the rain no less. Around midnight or so when things weren’t going so well, I smarted off to Travis and He immediately tackled me onto the ice and I got completely soaked, Adam was laughing so hard he slipped on the ice and landed on a 2×4 we set under the fish house. By this time, we all started laughing uncontrollably. From that point on, Adam was always at the fish house, but always seemed to be busy when it was time to take it off the ice.

As luck would have it, I ended up being Adam’s roommate for the last year he was in college. By this time he was coming into his own as a writer and would often proofread my papers for me. With the quality of my research, I am confident Adam was the reason I was able to graduate college. There were nights I would be studying in my room and Adam in his. After awhile, he would walk past my room and I would hear the beer fridge open. He would make his way back, stop in my room, set a beer down and then go back to his room. This would continue on for at least 3 to 4 more beers.

Listening to music and going to concerts was a huge part of our friendship. Somehow, Adam could always get tickets for any show he wanted to go to.  In all, we have been to shows in 6 states.  I can only guess we went to between 50 and 100 concerts However, I do know, in the last 16 years there have only been 5 concerts that I didn’t go with Adam.

September 26, 2015 we went to our last Sevendust concert. The best we could count, we had been to over 50 Sevendust concerts collectively.

Adam’s mom said he has always been a fan of music. When she would take him to polka shows, he would go up to the front so he could see what was going on. When we went to concerts, we would decide to stand in the back and watch the show. As soon as the intro music started we would look at each other and without saying a word make our way to the front of the crowd and then meet up at the end of the show.

Adam’s last concert, Hatebreed on 10/7/16. Earlier that day, they found out Adam’s cancer was growing aggressively.

When I took a job in St Paul, I called Adam and asked if I could stay at his place for a while until I found a place of my own. Without hesitation, he cleared it with Julie and told me I could stay in their basement for as long as I wanted. It wasn’t long after I moved in that both Adam and Julie gave me the nickname of “Manchild”. The three of us would sit in the living room laughing and talking. In the course of a few months Adam almost made me a basketball fan. That summer Adam got into riding bike, so Julie and I followed suit and got bikes too. We would ride down the trails and called ourselves a bike gang. Everyone knew when we were coming because Adam was always a half mile ahead of me and Julie on the trails.

One of the few times Adam had ever taken a serious tone was when I was sitting next to him on the couch before a Packers game. I had already known they didn’t like to watch the games with other people but Adam told me: “a lot of things can be forgiven between friends, but when it comes to the Packers, things aren’t forgiven” I am pretty sure he was half joking but he never cracked a smile so I just assumed he was serious.

If you didn’t know it, Adam was afraid of heights. One spring, he was at his in-laws for maple syrup cooking and DuWayne asked him to go up on the ladder to get some materials down. Adam, not wanting anyone to know he was scared of heights, went up there anyway. Julie laughed as she shared this story with me. Adam was very proud but also was also panicking at being up past the third step on the ladder.

Anyone that knows Adam, knows he loved 80’s and 90’s wrestling. I remember one time he was excited that a package had arrived at the front door. When he opened it, it was the latest collection of wrestling DVDs he had found online somewhere. For the next several days, he would come home from work and burn the cds and then back them up on his computer and finally catalog them into order. Every night before bed he would put a wrestling dvd in and watch it. I never got into wrestling, but I have never seen anyone who enjoyed a hobby so much and was so meticulous at collecting wrestling dvds.

Organizing his wrestling collection.

Adam always called himself an “avid indoorsmen”, but actually he was much much more than that. He loved every fall to go deer hunting and he would tell us about how his family would discuss strategy. We looked forward to tweets from the deer stand and his book reviews. It always seemed like he got his deer.

Adam was reading a book as usual right before he got his biggest buck in 2008. He was going to leave his stand but decided to stay and finish the last chapter. This guy walked out and now hangs in their family room.

When we started our annual fishing trip, he figured he would come with and give it a shot. Adam mostly read and we came up with the nickname Paddington because of the hat he wore. Adam was content just being with all the guys. If it meant everyone getting together and hanging out, he was pretty much up for anything.

Looking back, Adam always made sure our group of friends didn’t lose touch. A few years back, he decided we needed to start guys weekend, so we came down to his house and it became an annual tradition. Guys weekend wasn’t enough so he came up with the idea of having meatfest, simply a day where everyone brought their favorite cut of meat. The point was that it was another excuse for everyone to get together. A day to eat meat, drink beer and hang out.

After they had Ed and Reggie, Adam was the proudest dad, but he never wanted to brag about it. When he would come over and bring Ed, you could see the glow and how proud he was. For Adam, he took pride in giving his boys their bath and reading bedtime stories. From time to time, we would get an email describing the various ways in which he was preparing Ed for his first Slayer concert. He would tell us how Ed would head bang and dance around the living room when slayer came on. He is definitely Adam’s son. While Adam did not have as much time with Reggie, he took such pride in the moments he had with him.

He was well read, knew the best places in town to get a bite to eat and was always on the lookout for the next hole in the wall place to check out. Even though he wore Slayer, Ghost or Mastodon shirts, he loved all types of music and would always be sure to tell me how terrible my latest favorite band was. On the other hand, Adam loved to look his best. When Adam started chemo, he wore his dress pants and button down shirt to infusions. When we would go trapshooting, Adam would have on a polo or nice button down and shorts while the rest of us had on old tshirts.

Adam was the type of person who had a love for life, and everything it had to offer. He gave 110% in everything he did. Material possessions were of little importance to him. Just being with Julie and the boys was enough with the occasional show, going out to eat or whatever event was taking place. One word Adam did not have in his vocabulary was no. No matter what you asked of him he was always willing to help out and didn’t put it off.

He rarely spoke of the writing he did, in fact, the only time he ever told me about an article he wrote was when the I-35 bridge collapsed and he wrote about it. Other than that he wouldn’t tell us or show us articles unless he was asked because he never wanted anyone to make a big fuss about him. It wasn’t until recently that we found out he wrote for a Packer’s blog.

Adam’s favorite writing assignment was the MN Twins. He took this photo on April 11, 2016. They had his first CT scan post chemo and asked Julie if he could work opening day. It would be one of his last Twins games.

I could count on one hand how many times a year I talked to him on the phone. He was always approachable and would talk with anyone but Adam truly spoke through his hands and a keyboard. Simply reading his emails were enough to make anyone a better writer. He was always concise and to the point and didn’t use exclamation points or “that” when it wasn’t appropriate. He was a very polite to everyone he came across, Always using please and thank you, especially to the nurses this last year. Adam always wanted to make sure everyone had a good time and was very considerate of what they enjoyed. Several weeks ago, I stopped by to visit and wrestling was on, and knowing I didn’t care for it, he switched the channel even though I wouldn’t have minded watching wrestling with him. That was Adam, always concerned for everyone else and not wanting anyone to fuss over him.

Adam’s diagnosis didn’t define him, and it certainly didn’t define our friendship. What it did do was make me realize that aside from just being friends and going to concerts and whatever else we could find to pass the time, this person has been at my side through every up and down I have ever faced and I right there at his side. Adam knew everything about me and I knew everything about him. We have been friends for longer than I can recall. I came to realize there wasn’t a day that we didn’t exchange emails or text messages. Without talking on the phone we always knew what was going on in each other’s lives. This last year was devastating for not only Adam, his wife, kids and family, but everyone he has touched in the 34 years he was with us.

Bringing AC back home with his mom from New York after his surgery 2016.

In the last year I saw a man who didn’t know what the future held for him, someone who was scared, hopeful, uncertain, brave, courageous and above all determined that he would come out on top. Even with every setback, he was still Adam. He would send the usual texts, joke around and was still there to help when asked. Adam was the strongest, most courageous person I have ever met, he didn’t lose the fight, his body gave up well before his determination gave in.

While each of us hold a special place in our hearts for Adam, this was just my Adam story. We each have our own story to tell about a person who we may have recently met, or known most of our lives, but the one thing we all have in common is that we were blessed with the opportunity to know one of the greatest, unique characters to have lived. As we all sit here with heavy hearts, wondering how we can move forward without such an amazing person, I look back and think about how lucky each of us were to have him be a part of our lives. The memories, gestures, personality and mannerism’s will not be forgotten.

When you look at his two boys you see Adam through and through, but Adam will live on through those who knew him and they will have pictures and the stories that go with them. Even though Adam is gone, his children will know their father through each of us here and the memories we share.

He fought a courageous battle, and while we may sit here and not know how to get through tomorrow, we will wake up and it will for lack of a better term, suck. The next day will probably suck too. But one day we will get up in the morning and take a baby step and it will hurt a little less, even though the next day might be a step backward, eventually we will start taking more steps forward than back.

The grieving process doesn’t happen overnight, for some it takes years, but eventually we will all find a way to live our lives without someone who meant so much to us, while never forgetting what they meant to us. Adam may have left this earth, but he lives on in each of us and the memories we have of the time we spent with him. If you look around this church you will see we are not alone in our grief, we have Adam’s Pack, just like Adam was always there for anyone he could help, We have each other to lean on, so no one needs to endure this pain alone.

I will leave you with a quote that seems poignant for both Adam and those he left behind:

Reggie White once said “God places the heaviest burden on those who can carry its weight”

We now walk forward with that weight.

Buck Sevendust IMG_1614 IMG_1314 Ice Fishing IMG_1614 Fathers Day Witt & Adam NYE Witt & Adam NY Bike Gang at Wedding

One Year Ago

A year ago, we all said good-bye to the one and only Adam Czech.

I have been searching for the words to describe this past week, this past month, this past year.

Searching for those words to tell you how I have survived this year.

I don’t really know. If I go back and read what I have written over the last two years, the story I read reminds me.

Our sons, Edward and Reginald who help me find the joy every day. Our bulldog Matilda, who has been a faithful companion and the best comforter to my tears at three am. My faith, which gives me a promise that I will see Adam again some day.

Our friend, Witt, who has kept a promise made when Adam died one year ago. The promise that he, along with our families and friends would always be there for us. A promise I learned Adam asked him to keep a month after he was diagnosed with cancer.

My parents, who have watched me cry and listened to my anger over life, and supported me in any decision I have made. They have been asked to do the unthinkable and help their daughter grieve losing her husband. A loss that started the day he was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.

Our families, especially both my parents and Adam’s parents who have never said no to me when I have asked for help with the boys. Our friends, especially my widowsisters who understand this life and are always there for me. 24/7.

Year one has been a blur. I learned that every happy moment, will always be “happy-sad” because Adam is not here. I know that every dark wave of grief will be followed by a period of calm.

I learned to smile and laugh again. I learned how to have fun in this next chapter of my life. I have discovered the heart is capable of expanding to love again while never losing my love for Adam.

A year ago, we entered hospice on November 17. A day later, Adam passed away. While we were in hospice, I found a peace that didn’t know existed during death. I will leave you today with a very personal peace of my journal. Something I have thought about sharing for 365 days, but never felt it was right.

Today I feel is the right time. Looking back on the last two years, it is unbelievable the twists and turns, the pain, the anger, the love, the help and peace I have felt. Often all at the same time.

The following is a text conversation I saved with one of my best (and also widowed) friends. I saved it so I wouldn’t forget the peace I felt among the pain on that cold November day I saw my husband take his final breaths.

The death experience is almost a beautiful thing. It is so spiritual. Adam is afraid, but I am helping to calm and guide him. He’s not ready yet. It won’t be long but it won’t be soon. 

“I’m sure you are doing an amazing job. There is nothing more intimate than being with the love of your life fully in their time of death. Nothing as tragic and heartbreaking either, but your presence is giving him peace in his transition and that is such a gift. “

It is so odd. You know what I mean right? I feel relief but I am afraid I’ll feel guilt. And I am sure I will. I leave him 2-3 hours a day every other day and it’s too much. 

“It is odd. There are so many emotions at once. There is no wrong emotion. You aren’t crazy to feel peaceful. He’s at a point where he can’t come back from, he can’t live this way, there’s no suffering where he is going, that’s why you feel some peace.  My prayers went from Stop This!!! to Just let it be peaceful, let him know how loved he is, within days of each other . . .I can’t stop the pain you are going to feel. Trust me, I still feel it.”

Am I crazy that I feel peaceful? I know I won’t when it happens. Is it prayers? Does this really happen to spouses? 

I feel like it’s the calm before the storm. Last night I was so scared. Today, now that we are here, I’m not as scared. I’m sure this feeling will come back.

“Nothing you feel is wrong. We were telling stories and jokes off and on the whole time. Watched an awesome Packer game the night before (Jim) died.” 

It will be heartbreaking helping the boys. I’ve told him he will always live on in me and the boys. The boys will know who their daddy is and they are half of him. They have his DNA. If I ever (date again), I’ve told him they have to marry me and you because I will never stop loving him even after he is gone. I will love him more and more every day after he is gone.

“You are so right. I love Jim as much if not more. And he will always be my husband and the dad of my boys.”

He is very alert but not as sharp as 2 days ago or 1 day ago. He knows this and it scares him. The nurse and I talked to him about being okay to take the medicine to feel better. Only God will decide when it’s time and I told him, God won’t take him until he is ready.

He’s asked will he get to see his parents again? I said in the morning. The boys? Yes, in the morning. I told him he isn’t ready to go but he will know when he is. It is scary because nobody can tell him what exactly it is like. 

“The unknown is awfully scary. The medicine should help his anxiety….”

Indeed. He wanted ME to talk to him tonight and not take Ativan. What an honor. I was able to calm him to sleep. Amazing .

“That is amazing. Such an honor.  Some people never experience the love we have. So blessed in spite of this.”

We are. The social worker here said he was in awe, said at our young age, only knowing us for an hour, we have experiences and love most will never ever know or touch. Heartbreaking and blessed. 

 

Adam and Edward

On one Fall day in 2016 Edward stayed for lunch after preschool as Adam and Julie were at an appointment. I heard the backdoor open and said, “Edward I think mommy is here to get you.” He jumped up from the table and came into the hall with me only to be surprised, It was daddy! “He squealed with delight…”D-A-D-D-Y” and ran down the hall. As he approached Adam with me at his side, Adam knelt down to his knees to embrace his precious son! For you see, Adam was so weak in his body, however his mind fought so hard to make this trip inside alone to pick up his son. As Adam embraced Edward, he looked up at me and said, “Thank you and I mean Thank You for everything”. I smiled with tears in my eyes and told him no problem, I am here for you all. Just call…
A few short weeks later I said my final goodbye to this amazing man, Adam Czech. I didn’t know Adam really well before this time, but I felt like through all the stories I heard, I knew he was an amazing and dedicated husband and father. Forever in our hearts…ADAM!

State wrestling Hilarity

Adam was my Partner In Crime for five years covering the state wrestling tournament for the St. Cloud Times. Anyone familiar with this event knows that it’s a three-day grind, and trying to find humor is not only necessary, but required, to get through it. While watching a match, I heard something I thought I’d never hear (then remembered this is the state wrestling tournament). Upon returning, Adam noticed I had tears in my eyes. “Fenton, are you crying?”

I replied, “indeed I am.”

“What happened?,” he asked.

My response: “So, I’m watching this match when a teenage boy comes down to the front row to find his father, where he promptly and with authority proclaims ‘Mom needs her chew.’ ”

Ahhh, the memories of state wrestling with Adam!

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