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So, it has been 6 months since Kent passed away quietly, after really never giving up his battle.  He didn’t have a choice in the matter and some of his last words will stay with me forever, when he told me he didn’t want to give up.  Never giving up is what we are holding on to and what I try to impress upon those around me.  Keaton who is struggling with the lose of his dad and taking the next step from high school to college, sometimes doesn’t want to think about what he needs to do next, as he enters into adulthood.  He really likes being a kid and doesn’t care to grow up yet.  Kristina who is the ultimate example of never giving up, because her dad told her so, is almost finished with GRCC and her cosmetology program, and is ready to start Grand Valley in May.  I, on the other hand, give up almost daily because lately I’m just having a tough time caring about what needs to be done next.  I’ve made many strides forward, but a few steps backwards lately.  But just as we mourn the 6 month mark of Kent’s passing, we received joyful news that we will soon have our first “Cudney grandchild” which means I am going to be a great-aunt, thanks to my nephew Ryan and his wife, Annie.  As excited as I am to have a new niece or nephew,  I think I need to think of a better name for myself, such as, “super aunt” or “best aunt”.  I’ll keep thinking…

 We will be heading south for spring break and will try not to do anything that resembles being on a schedule or responsiblity.  That way we don’t have to worry about giving up while we are trying to relax and enjoy each other’s company.   As Kent always said, “it’s okay to fail, but it’s never okay to give up.”  So on this day 6 months later when we feel like we are in the middle of the ocean on a raft with no paddle, we will take the next 6 months to find our paddle and the direction God desires us to take to avoid floating amiously much longer.

February 18, 2009

You know Feb. 16 would have been Kent’s 49th birthday.  As I reflect upon that day, it is sad for me, and for my kids.  It was also a hard day for Kent’s best friend, Brian.  The day was uneventful and no one mentioned Kent’s birthday all day, and I thought it was weird.  Why was everyone ignoring the fact that it was Kent’s birthday?  So, in order to feel better about things, I talked to Kristina, who was acknowledging Kent’s birthday quietly and privately.    Kristina was having a tough time but she is strong like her dad.  Brian called around 8:30 p.m. and was just getting out of work, so he was mad at Kent for leaving him, and all the work.  Even at a sad time, Brian makes me laugh.  Brian and I are grieving together and we are keeping Kent’s memory alive by talking about it, telling stories about Kent, and remembering his funny sense of humor and his carefree attitude about life’s problems.  He never worried too much about anything because it never did him any good anyway.  He tried to impress those qualities on Brian and I, however, we still worry about things and his passing is still surreal to us.  So, on Kent’s birthday, I spent my time thinking about him and what we would be doing if he were still here…what we should be doing.  Last year his family was with us for a birthday dinner celebration, not realizing it would be his last.  This year I’m sad, but his spirit lives on in my kids and everyone he has touched.  On Friday, his memory will be with all of us at the boys basketball game as they honor him and pay tribute to their coach and their mentor who fought a tough fight, and taught them to work hard for what they want.  I’ll be there with the boys on Friday night, and with my kids, as we remember Kent and those loved ones who have passed away from cancer.  Stogie, you’ve left quite an impression on those kids and they are working hard.  They are winning and I think they are doing it for you.

Phil

I know I said was done posting but we received a comment from Phil who was diagnosed this summer at the age of 27 with MM.  I am stunned by this and am compelled to talk to him.  Phil, please let me know how we can help. 

As I am about to hit the publish button, I am reminded about this horrible disease and how it didn’t stop with Kent.  It is no longer an “old person’s” disease.  How does this disease manage to hit a 27 year old person?  In Kent’s memory I often wonder what I can do to help, with what I have learned about this disease over the course of Kent’s illness.  I still haven’t figured that out yet, but would like to be here for Phil or his family, if they have questions.

So, I guess this is the right time for my last post.  One month later.  The time has gone quickly and honestly, we have not had time to grieve.  That is not a good thing.  I wish I had a checklist of what needs to be done because feeling unorganized and a bit out of control and out of my element is not comforting to me.  I know it shouldn’t matter that the laundry doesn’t get done or the leaves don’t get raked, but there are still bills that need to be paid, cars that break down, colleges to apply for, and book reports that need to be written.  Time doesn’t stand still even when a loved one passes away.  I’ve always heard that a month after a loved one passes away is the loneliest. Please don’t worry – I’m not lonely…  My friends, neighbors, and family are taking good care of me and I don’t have time to be lonely.   I know the loneliness has yet to set in.  Actually being lonely means time to grieve, and that is okay. 

I have never thought of myself as being all grown up – I still feel like a kid and sometimes act like a kid, so changing over insurance policies, bills, and doing all this adult stuff that needs to be done is really difficult for me.  If only there was a button I could push to make all of the paperwork go away.  I guess I could just throw it away knowing more will come in the mail anyway, but that would be running, and I don’t run.  I confront and handle !!  Anyway, a month later and things generally are moving forward…I’m working, the kids are in school, and we still have dinner together as a family.  Sometimes I think about the things we are doing and wonder if Kent would be okay with how I’m doing things or with the decisions I’m making.  Sometimes I forget that he isn’t here and I just tell myself he would be proud of us and would approve of the decisions we are making. 

Dealing with two teenagers who are both handling their grief in different ways is challenging.  I am trying to give them space to handle this their way, and taking their lead as much as possible, but still trying to keep Kent’s spirit alive and using his name in everyday conversation.

I chose today to end my blog, not really knowing what to say.  God answered that question for me today when I opened my mail. I received one of the most touching notes I have received throughout this journey.  It was a note from my Aunt Millie.  She married my Uncle Milt many years ago, and he passed away unexpectedly, several years ago.  It was a very painful time for our family, and only a short time after my cousin and their son, Kevan passed away from complications of diabetes.  Aunt Millie has been down this road twice and I always thought she handled it with grace, even though it was evident how difficult it was for her.  She told me how their love ran deep and strong and for many reasons she chose to handle her grief alone.  Everyone handles grief in their own way, and I know we are all handling Kent’s loss in our own way.  Aunt Millie said that she is proud of me…and that means so much, even though I really don’t deserve it.  She said we are a whole lot stronger that we think we are and she wishes me wisdom and strength in the decisions I will be facing with Kristina and Keaton, and told me that Uncle Milt always told her to “run it through your system many times and then stay gounded in what you decide.”  Those words mean so much to me because I loved my Uncle Milt and getting a little of his wisdom will stay with me for a long time.  Just as we all miss Kent and the way he was grounded and stuck to what he decided, it is what made him the special person he was. 

In closing, Aunt Millie enclosed a verse that she memorized and said during her moments of weakness and I would like to share it with all of you to hold on to in tough times.

If I should die and leave you here a while, be not like others sore undone, who keep long vigil by the silent dust and weep, for my sake turn again to life and smile, nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do, that which will comfort others souls than thine, complete these dear unfinished tasks of mine, and I, perchance, may therein comfort you.

I will never know the kind of love and friendship that I have felt for the last two years. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, friends and family.  Stay strong and keep the faith.                                                                    

                                                                                 With love, Kim

October 9, 2008

One week and one day later.  Our family is adjusting to our new life.  We will never quite be normal again, but we will carry on knowing this will be a process.  My brother-in-law Kendall called me yesterday and we chatted for a while, talking about our time together this summer, and how grateful we are that our family was able to spend time together, getting to know each other, despite our different lifestyles.  Our lives in Michigan, working normal jobs and going to school – a rather typical lifestyle but one that we have chosen and one that we love.  Kendall’s life across the country, living a simpler life filled with time for reflection and as Kendall always tells me, “no worries.”  I grew to really take comfort in that phrase and Kendall did help me keep things in check and calm.  Keaton always says he likes having Uncle Kendall around because when he is here, the house is “calm.”  I told Kendall that so many people wanted to meet him at Kent’s funeral which speaks volumes about Kendall’s character and unselfish lifestyle.  He taught us all something about gentleness, compassion, and life.

I could tell some incredible stories about the people in our life and what YOU have all done for us.  Knowing that pretty much everyone we know has touched our lives in some form or another in the last couple of weeks, this blog would never end.  For now, I will continue to post until I get some of my thoughts down on paper, and to make my mother’s friend, Nancy Evenson, happy.  Nancy, I’ll think about you in the morning when I’m drinking my first cup of coffee as you start your day by reading my blog.  For tonight, I’ll end by sharing a “Kent” story.  We were at Keaton’s tennis regionals today, his last high school tennis match.  One of Keaton’s best friends, Charlie, plays third singles.  Charlie made it to the final round at regionals today and played a hard last match and fought to the very end, keeping us all biting our nails and hopeful for a first place medal.  Charlie’s mom looked at me as Charlie was regaining momentum after falling behind and said she now knows where Charlie gets his drive from…it is from Kent.  She said Kent taught Charlie how to fight hard and never give up.  Charlie did great and he didn’t give up, and Kent would have been very proud today.

Services Clarifications

Visitation will be held at Stegenga Funeral Parlor, 1601 Post Drive, Belmont MI on Friday from 2:00 until 4:00 and from 6:00 until 9:00.

Take 131 N of I-96 to the Post Drive exit and you are there. 

Funeral Services will be held Sunday at 4:00 at Mars Hill Baptist Church (Visitation at the church from 3:00 until 3:45)  3501 Fairlanes Ave SW, Grandville, MI

The church is in an old shopping mall.  When you reach the appointed address, you will see the Visser YMCA and PlayLand.  They are on the east side of the mall.  Enter at that driveway, the church is on the west side of the mall.  NOTE: There are no signs for the church.  You can enter through any entrance EXCEPT the south entrance.

The family would like to extend an invitation to join them for light refreshments at the church immediately following the service.

October 1, 2008

I am saddened and my heart aches.  Kent passed away rather suddenly this morning at 4:10 a.m., but he is at peace.  We are extremely devastated but recognize the alternative is much worse.  He is with our Heavenly Father and his earthly father, and for that we find much comfort.

My brother sent me a note with a poem that I want to share with you.  This poem is for everyone fighting cancer and for the families of loved ones having been inflicted with cancer.

What cancer cannot do:  Cancer is so limited, It cannot cripple love, It cannot shatter hope, It cannot corrode faith, It cannot destroy peace, It cannot kill friendship, It cannot suppress memories, It cannot silence courage, It cannot invade the soul, It cannot steal eternal life, It cannot conquer the spirit.

Visitation is scheduled at Stegenga Funeral Chapel, 1601 Post Drive NE, Belmont, MI on Friday from 2-4 and 6-9.  Funeral services will be held at Mars Hill Church in Grandville on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. with visitation an hour prior to the service.

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