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‘Til Death Do Us Part

Forty seven years and six days after we spoke our wedding vows; we were forever parted by death.

In the middle of an August afternoon, my husband laid down for a nap and never woke up.
He is on the “Blue Side of Heaven” now……as Alan Jackson sings…..telling everyone about me and hugging our loved ones who went before. I am sad and guilty and angry and lost. I did CPR until the paramedics arrived….but none of us could save him. I feel sorry for him as there was still so much more we……he…..wanted to do! I am angry because we hadn’t planned on this…..his parents lived well into their 90’s……why couldn’t he????

mourning, widow, dealing with grief, sadness, family, husband, life goes on 

I feel lost and clueless; unsettled and without an anchor. I have lots of love and reasons for living…..the greatest being our five grandchildren. He wouldn’t have wanted them to have to learn about death so early. And now I have his pictures all over the house and the kids talk about what a great cook he was and I am not! They are worried Santa will leave less presents around the tree since there will be none for Grandpa. They ponder how Santa knows this; does he have a phone number for God?  They love having turns sitting in his chair, watching his TV…..and I do too!

It’s been a rough couple of months.

My heart is full and my mind is sad and I want to write it all down. I am alone after so many years with this man….my newspaper man. He was my editor from the day we met working on the college newspaper at Western Michigan University.  Now…..here’s a disclaimer everyone……this is the first piece I’ve written since he passed away. He was my editor and cheerleader for almost 50 years….so I don’t have his expertise to literally call on in the other room….or email it to him and ask “whadaya think?” 

I save old letters. I re-give letters. I kept the letter my mother-in-law wrote to my husband on his 40th Birthday telling him about the day of his birth……a snowy January day in Chicago. I gave it to him this year on his 70th Birthday to enjoy again.

We kept a copy of the letter my husband wrote to his father the day his Dad turned 96!  I just gave that letter to our son last month on his 44th Birthday….five weeks after his dad died.

Now I am again saving letters and cards and messages……wondering how I’ll ever write again….how to write from my broken heart where once everything flowed through seamlessly. I’ve woven love and life and family into my writing ever since I was a kid. I bound everything I wrote…. letters, diaries, essays and observations, notebooks from Marriage Encounter and our travel journals…. into two big binders which I labeled Write From The Start for the earlier years…..and Write From the Heart for the rest.

Continue reading this post on Joan Stommen’s blog, Gramcracker Crumbs

Joan Stommen

I am a teacher, mom and grandmother of five. I retired after 33 years in education to help care for my mother AND my daughter's new twins! I write about families, education, fitness, aging gracefully and the bits and pieces of my life. Becoming a widow has given me another platform on which to share my thoughts and feelings. Over the years I've written for newspapers, taught writing skills to college students, classroom teachers and children of all ages. My blog posts have been featured on More Magazine's online site as well as other blogs. I enjoy Zumba, hiking, scrapbooking, reading, subbing and learning to cook! In addition to drafting my parents' love story and my memoirs, I'm looking for a writing coach position.

Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com

Sunday 5th of January 2014

Hi Joan! I missed this when it first was published and just had a chance to go back and catch up. What a lovely tribute to both you and your husband...it is so clear that you had a deep love and respect for one another and I can only imagine how difficult such a radical change is in your life. Thank you for sharing both your joy from your memories and the sadness that is sure to be a part of it all. And congratulations on your courage and strength to write about it. ~Kathy

joan stommen

Monday 6th of January 2014

Thank you for reading and commenting, Kathy. I couldn't write for so long because I didn't feel comfortable sharing such personal feelings.....but I have found this writing and sharing....to be very comforting and healing! My strength and confidence is growing; support and caring words from writers like yourself really helps! I am pleased to be part of your blogging group, Kathy! Joan

Joan Stommen

Friday 15th of November 2013

Thank you, Elin. I am touched that you could feel our love.....the essence of us. It is healing to write....not comfortable to share.Your comments are affirming and i am most grateful.Glad to discover your blog.....heading over now! Joan

Elin Stebbins Waldal

Friday 15th of November 2013

Joan, Thank you for opening us up to your heartache, what pours through is the incredible love you shared with your husband, a legacy which lives on in your heart and in the hearts of your children and grand children. "Write from the Heart"-simply beautiful.

Joan Stommen

Thursday 14th of November 2013

Thank you, Nicole. I appreciate you understanding and feeling my loss.I hurt for my children and grandchildren as well. It comforts me knowing he is with me; that somehow he is guiding me. Much love to you and your parents forthe coming holidays. Joan

sisters from another mister

Thursday 14th of November 2013

Tears fell for you here .... My parents both turn 70 next year and celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in February. I cannot imagine one of them without the other, they bicker, they tease, they love and they love some more. They too have 5 grandchildren ... Your heart is full - I love that, I hope you share all of your stories here ... Sure he will be reading along and critiquing as he goes ...

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