The world stood still … or so it seemed, as we hurriedly packed our bags, left our dog, and drove away.
Three months prior, we heard some terrible news. Jack Hasenmyer, my father in law, had been diagnosed with stage IV cancer … and it was all over his body. We heard estimates of his life expectancy ranging from two weeks to ten years, leaving us full of confusion – unsure how to feel, process, or plan for the following days.
The night before we packed our bags, a slew of texts filtered in with concern about Jack. Then came a text around 10pm with news that they were calling an ambulance to take him to the ER. We were asked not to rush down, but to hold off on the 4 hr drive until we knew more. So, we waited. Tried to sleep. Did our best not to let our minds wander. By 4am more texts came rushing in … it was serious. Really serious. His colon had ruptured and doctors expected it to be a matter of days.
Our hearts dropped.
How could this be?!
Only a few days prior, they were up visiting us in our home and he seemed so full of life, even in the midst of chemo. One evening, after being lost in conversation with my mother in law, I went to find him to let him know it was time to go meet Dave. Where was he? Up on the roof, hammering one of our gutters back into place! How could it possibly be that not even a week later, his body was completely failing this talented, generous, capable man?!
Our car couldn’t get there fast enough.
We arrived to find this amazing man lying in a hospital bed, with his loving wife by his side, who hadn’t slept all night – for a long, long time – still looking oh so lovely with her bright eyes, pained by grief yet so full of love, hope, and goodness. We awkwardly hugged him as he reached for his side, in pain from our embraces that jostled him. Instead of uttering one word of complaint, he cracked jokes and shrugged his shoulders when any mention was made of his condition. He was a man of honor … of strength, courage, love, laughter and joy. No one could change that – even in pain – he would continue to be that man to the very last day.
The next five days were filled with tears, hugs, sobs, and laughter as he was moved to a private hospice facility to make him comfortable in his final days. One of my most beautiful memories will always be of one particular afternoon. It was one of the most beautiful pictures of love I have ever witnessed. Suz, his wife of 46 years, crawled into bed with him when he was too weak to put his arms around her. She kissed his face tenderly; stroked his head, now bald from the radiation and chemo; ran her hands through his, which were too weak to initiate touch; whispered sweet, beautiful words like honey to his heart that had loved her for so long. Tears rolled down her cheeks … and ours.
In a world of divorce, conflict, and broken relationships, these two souls loved through the pain, the conflict, the disagreements. They loved well. To the very end.
I can’t tell you how many times I found myself thanking God that I got to know such an amazing man … and that I have the privilege of being a part of such an incredible family.
Jack Hasenmyer took his last breath on Wednesday morning, August 21st, with his beautiful wife in his arms.
As funeral preparations were made, stories written about his life, and songs practiced for the service, time continued to stand still.
Life seems to stop when you lose a loved one. … And yet, somehow the world moves on. Somehow life continues, even if it feels as though it’s stopped.
Our hearts are broken. … And yet, we have to believe that somehow, they will mend. He will certainly never be forgotten or replaced, but somehow we will fumble our way through learning how to do life without him. My children will never get to know their grandfather. Our October wedding celebration will be missing someone so significant. We won’t know who to call when we’re stuck on our next house project, or when we need some art advise.
Jack, you are, and will be, missed. Our worlds aren’t the same without you.
Thanks to all of my gracious clients, who allowed me to be present through such a difficult time. Please continue bearing with me as we begin to learn a new normal, and as I navigate my inbox and task list in the midst of all this.
This photo was taken by my husband during our first trip down to visit him after finding out about the cancer. To me, it is one of the ways I will always remember him … serving, building, creating with is able, artistic, capable, strong hands and a paint covered ladder.