May 24, 2021 marks six months since the death of former Kresta in the Afternoon producer Nick Thomm after a long battle with a brain tumor. His wife, Jen, shares some thoughts:
So many thoughts have been stirring in my heart these past months. Now, on the feast of Pentecost, and the eve of the 6 month mark of Nick’s passing, it seems appropriate to share a window into my heart.
Six months. Half a year. Without my best friend, the most amazing husband and father. Sometimes it feels as if it was just yesterday, but most times, reflecting on those last weeks and days, it seems like a lifetime ago. The seasons have changed twice now, we’ve successfully made it through many of the “firsts” since they came on immediately, and life has continued on as we have pushed to find our new normal, with the help of an amazing tribe of family and friends.
What has been solidified for me in this, is that God indeed provides the grace necessary for the moment! When I think back to the sleepless nights, pains in my body as things became physically challenging for me to care for him, or even when I look at pictures from those days, it seems surreal. It’s almost as if I’m watching a movie of my life replay. But I don’t identify as that person anymore. It’s strange. I know the grace for the moment was present because I would not have been able to do any of it alone, but now that the moment has passed, the grace needed for it is gone as well.
Immediately after he passed, I was overcome with a great sense of JOY, peace and gratitude. I was so relieved he was no longer suffering, although he bore it better than anyone I know. I was filled with gratitude for his example and the profound privilege of being the one chosen to walk this path with him. Great peace washed over me as I had no doubt he was home, even though I still pray as if he may have had a brief stopover.
I’ve also learned that grief is absolutely unpredictable! Some days it hits me hard. It could be the littlest thing, like coming across his sneakers, which I won’t be able to part with, or opening his dresser drawer to put stray clothes away. You don’t ever “get over” or finish grieving. I know there will always be hard days, brutal anniversaries, and unexpected moments that take my breath away. That will continue until the day I am called home.
But those days aren’t very frequent. The grieving process is not what I expected it to be. I’m not even sure I can articulate what I expected. I was prepared for a lot of things, but the sheer exhaustion of it all hit me like a freight train. It was worse than first trimester exhaustion with Sarah, and honestly I’m not sure I graded many papers that semester. Grief is trauma. Not only have I dealt with the exhaustion, but my unfailing memory has definitely been impacted too. I was so used to managing everything in my head and multitasking but now, it must be written down. I make lists and look at the calendar all the time. The exhaustion has started to fade and I am finally feeling like a small piece of me is returning. I’m certain my memory will return too. And I’m finally moving towards being more than what I affectionately refer to as a “bag of chips” commitment.
Also, grief is as unique as the person grieving. My experience is mine alone. So although I have shared my thoughts before with close friends, I have hesitated to do so publicly. There are so many grieving widow friends that I know are not in the same place as I am. Actually, I feel quite alone in my current state of mind. People often ask my close friends how the kids and I are doing. And I can honestly answer, we are doing pretty well. We all have our moments for sure, and it manifests differently for each of us. Just the other day after communion, Andrew started whimpering and said, “I miss Daddy.” I do too buddy! So those moments are hard. Recently David commented that he missed Dad warming up the couch because he sat there so long. He sure did bud. But we share fun memories all the time. We are so grateful for the extra time we were afforded together this past year due to the pandemic. We lived those final months out to the full!
Many were surprised when I returned to work in January. I needed some normal. For me, teaching is a vocation, and one part of me that I don’t have to question. It fills my cup. I needed them. It was definitely the right decision. Now that school is wrapping up, I will have the time, and finally the proper head space, to tackle the business of death that I needed to let sit for awhile.