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Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Last Post

Friday, November 17th would have been Scott's 45th birthday.  Although this birthday occurred during a very busy and emotional week in which my mother moved to an assisted living floor at Lantern Hill and started hospice, we made sure to take a moment on his birthday to "just be" together. The kids, Jan and I started the day gathering together for a birthday breakfast in Scott's honor before we started our busy day.  As we sat and enjoyed the large buffet of breakfast foods, we shared 45 things that had happened to us since Scott passed away that we'd like him to know.  At first 45 things to share seemed like a lot but when we reached 45, we realized we could have gone on forever.  Below is our list of 45 things that happened in the past year and a half that we wish Scott could know (and maybe he does already know).  These are in no particular order and are written as if we are talking to Scott:

  1. We purchased an amazingly comfortable couch from La-Z-Boy that has 4 reclining sections and a swivel recliner chair.  We know that you would love sitting in them both.
  2. We went to Arizona with Auntie Jen and learned how to ride horses which was a little outside our comfort zone.  JJ's horse walked away with him on it before he learned how to ride it but he had fun anyway.  
  3. JJ went to basketball camp this past summer and won the Camper of the Year award - an award given to a camper with good character and good skill!
  4. Paige made her confirmation at the Presbyterian Church at New Providence and found a home in that church.  She wrote an amazing letter of affirmation.
  5. I bought a new car without your stellar negotiating skills but I think you'd be proud of my negotiating skills.  I just couldn't negotiate face to face.  The phone and email helped me tremendously.
  6. Grammy talks to you with Katelyn while looking up at the moon.  Katelyn says she sees you up there.  That is pretty magical.
  7. JJ started and finished 7th grade and had a great year.  
  8. Paige started high school and got her varsity letter in swim.  This was a big accomplishment for her.
  9. I went to the top of the empire state building for the first time in my life.  I thought of you while I was at the top and wished you could have seen it too.
  10. Grammy braved the waves in Nantucket without you.  Fortunately they weren't too big!
  11. JJ beat Papa in cribbage and loves to play the game a lot.  He's gotten quite good at it.
  12. The kids are teenagers now and doing teenage kinds of things - you can imagine.  Jeez - wish you were here to go through this with me!
  13. We now have fish as pets thanks to JJ's carnival game winnings.  Danny, the orange one,  is the only one who survived.  But we've added two more so that he'd have friends.
  14. We moved Nana B. to Lantern Hill in January to be close to us in New Providence.  We love having her near by us.
  15. JJ learned to mow the lawn in Iowa with Papa Ron.  He stayed an extra week in Iowa this summer on his own.
  16. Papa taught Paige and Dylan how to drive a stick shift in his red truck before he sold it this summer.  
  17. I have become the master of the grill in your absence.  My specialties are skirt steak, marinated chicken, and cedar wrapped salmon.
  18. Grammy meditates about you every day when she looks up at the sun as she wakes up in the morning.
  19. JJ started running track in the spring.  It would be no surprise to you that he likes sprinting the best and he's fast!
  20. We went to Nantucket with Ben, Laura, Katelyn, and Brooke this summer.  It was FUN. :)
  21. We cut down our own Christmas tree in 2016 (with the help of friends) and then we took a half day off work and school to put it up and decorate it. 
  22. Grammy says that Julie is taking care of her...her example is the help with her cell phone.  We now have 5 on the family plan - Paige, JJ, Grammy , Nana and me.  haha!
  23. JJ made honor roll 1st marking period of 8th grade.  Woo hoo!
  24. We spent New Year's Eve with friends and did the mannequin challenge.  It was a fun night but Mommy missed you terribly at midnight.  
  25. Donald Trump is the President of the United States of America.  I would love to hear you talk and talk about that fact.  I already know what you'd think though.  
  26. Grammy (and we) are grateful for your work on trying to save the environment.  Climate change is making a big impact on the weather.  There have been lots of natural disasters this year :(
  27. We learned how to play Mario Cart this year.  It's fun to do together but Mom is really terrible at it.
  28. Paige is working hard to make healthy changes in her diet and lifestyle.  We are all trying to support her and do it with her. You'd be proud of her and you were a great example for her.  
  29. We bought a volleyball net and ping pong table for the backyard.  We have spent lots of time together using them both while playing music in the summertime.
  30. Uncle Ben taught Paige how to eat lobster on Nantucket.  Paige has some good taste in food - just like you.
  31. Iowa beat Iowa State in Football this Fall and we watched with the Feeneys.  They wore Beat Iowa shirts and we wore Beat State shirts.  We will forever continue to be loyal Hawkeye Fans.
  32. Paige went to Mexico with the church to build houses for people in need.  It was a life changing experience for her.
  33. The Spoerl Brainstormer team raised over $20,000 for Voices Against Brain Cancer and donated directly to Dr. Lassman to continue to research to find a cure for this awful disease.
  34. Paige's Relay for Life team was 32 people strong and raised $10,000 as the Spoerl Brainstormer team.
  35. Paige continues to sing.  She is in concert choir and women's choir at school and part of the Salt band at church.  Her voice is a beautiful!
  36. By choice, JJ didn't have a birthday party this year but he went on a church retreat on his birthday weekend and helped others instead.  You'd be so proud.
  37. Paige helped the Heartworks organization on her 14th birthday.  She and friends gathered there to decorate a gathering/party room for families going through difficult times. They made some beautiful canvas paintings and we could feel your presence there with us that day.
  38. We went to several shows and concerts including Dear Evan Hansen on broadway and the Imagine Dragons concert.  It's been fun doing things together.
  39. Thirty second hugs are still given out by Grammy and received by others, the kids in particular.
  40. We went to Kalahari water park and the kids each brought a friend with them.  JJ and Tyler screamed like teenage girls on the waterslides.  You would have cringed. 
  41. Paige bagged food for people in need at Thanksgiving time in 2016 with friends.
  42. Papa Ron has cured his hepatitis C with a new medication that was discovered.  He is having another hip surgery in December.  Watch over him. 
  43. Ben and his family keep your memory alive with pictures on a special shelf in their home and they talk about you to Brooke so that she'll know her Uncle Scott. 
  44. I met someone new.  He's kind, smart, and loving.  The kids like him.  JJ says he's made a new friend.  I think you would be happy that he brings comfort to me and adds happiness to our home.
  45. Nana started Hospice and often talks about how you were like a son to her.  She hopes to see you and my Dad when she leaves our physical world.  The thought that she might get to see you again soon brings me comfort.
We continue to talk about Scott every day to keep his memory alive in our home and our lives.  We will always miss his presence in our every day lives as he was one of kind and a very special man, husband, father, and son.   We try to live our lives as he would have wanted us to live them with strength, resiliance, happiness and love.  

This post is my last.  I thank all of you who have read it over the past 11 years and have offered my family and me words of encouragement and support throughout the most difficult days of our lives.  This blog was a way for me to gather my thoughts, express my feelings, and I hope, maybe, to help some of my readers in similar situations.  

Love to you all. 

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Emerging from a Cocoon

During the past month our so, I have felt as though I've been emerging from a cocoon from which I had been using to protect myself from the outside world for a while.  After Scott passed away, I felt it difficult to engage in world happenings and even sometimes in the lives of those around me.  Even though I knew life was happening all around me, I wasn't sure I really wanted to be a part of it.  My saddness and lonliness was so deep that I didn't have much emotion left for anything else.

But lately, things have changed.  With the long days of summer and the busyness of life, I find myself engaged in what is happening in the world, outside of my own little world.  It's like re-entering life with a fresh outlook and a hopeful spirit.  Some days I wake up early and go for run and other days, I stay in my PJs and drink my coffee slowly. Either way, I look foward to the early morning time to "just be" and start my day.   I'm trying to move forward little by little, trying to enjoy life's moments, one day at a time.  This isn't what I imagined or planned my life to be but I know Scott would want me to be living it.   So that is what the kids and I continue striving to do.  

So far this summer, JJ has spent time with friends playing basketball, swimming at the pool, having sleepovers, and going to camp.  Paige spent a week in Mexico with our church working hard building houses for people who can't afford them. It was a life changing experience for her and she wants to return and do it again in 3 years.  And as for me, I made a summer to do list for which I am trying to complete at least some things each day - keeping busy most of every day helps me to keep moving forward.   We spend lots of time with friends and family and have the usual upcoming trips planned to Nantucket and Iowa with the Spoerl relatives.

So as I emerge from my cocoon, I am happy to be greeted by warm, sunny summer days spent with good friends, family, and new experiences and people.   And although I still have moments of deep saddness in which I mourn Scott and miss his presence in my every day life,  I now have some moments where I feel hopeful about the world in which I live and the days that lie ahead.   As always, I hope Scott is happy with the choices I'm making for me and for our famiy and the everyday decisions that I make in my world.    

Happy Summer!


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Walking Heals

On the one year anniversary of Scott's death, just 2 days ago, the page in my Healing After Loss book was all about walking.  How apropos! As this weekend is all about walking.  The book described how healing going for a simple walk can be.  It can heal your body and your spirit.  It can help to clear your head and lift your spirits.  But this weekend, walking means even so much more.  Walking is about healing those who are suffering from cancer, both in spirit and in body.  It is about coming together to help one another.

Yesterday,  Saturday, we particpated in the Valerie Fund walk in Verona park for my niece, Katelyn (Scott's brother Ben's daughter).  The Valerie Fund is the organization that helped Katelyn and her family through her battle with liver cancer when she was only a baby.  We gathered together, yesterday, to give support to all the kids who battled or are currently battling cancer.  We walked shoulder to shoulder to show her and her family our support and love of Katelyn --- wearing our tiaras and crowns as Princess Katelyn's Royal Court.  We walked to let them know they are not alone, that we support them every step of the way.  We walked with them to help them heal from the emotional effect that cancer has on everyone.

Today, we will walk together again.   We will walk to join together to be Scott's Voice in the fight against brain cancer.   We will continue the walk that we started 10 years ago in 2007 when Scott was leading our team.  At the end of his speech in 2007, he said "We’ll be back here next year...bigger and stronger to continue this fight." He was right -- we returned every year possible to continue the fight.  And each year the team grew bigger and the money that we raised grew bigger too.  This year is no different.  When I checked yesterday, we were 110 members strong.  So today, Sunday June 11th, we will walk shoulder to shoulder again to raisee money to find a cure for all those still battling brain cancer.  We knew Scott would need a cure some day,  a cure that we knew did not exist.  So we walked year after year to raise money to help the researchers find that cure.  We never gave up and I'm not giving up today.  I will continue this fight for him, in memory of him, in honor of him.   The Spoerl Brainstormer team will walk today to collectively be Scott's voice in the fight against cancer and to continue to help all those still battling today.

Walking can heal.  It can heal our bodies and our spirits.  I'm hoping someday that walking together will help to heal all those diagnosed with cancer, that a cure will be found as a result of the millions and millions of people who walk each year to raise money to fight cancer.   If you would still like to support our team, please click the link below.  And thank you to all of you who already donated.  It truly means the world to me.

To Donate to the 2017 Spoerl Brainstormre Voices Against Brain Cancer team, go to:


Thursday, June 08, 2017

One year ago....

One year ago, I spent my last night with Scott.  Here is our story....

A day or maybe two prior to Scott's last day (it's hard to remember), the hospice doctor told me that she wouldn't be discharging Scott home - that he would spend his last days there, at Overlook Hospital.  The relief I felt was immense.  You see, I had chosen Atlantic hospice because they had beds at Overlook Hospital in case our family was unable to care for Scott in anyway.   Scott was having trouble breathing and couldn't swallow well at all.  It was scary - so scary.  I learned how to clear his airway and administer meds.  But then he also had these bloody noses... So much blood and I couldn't stop it.  The final days weren't always peaceful.  They were scary and painful.  So when the doctor told me that they would help me through those final days, I was forever grateful.  I sobbed.  I cried because I was relieved to have help but I mostly cried because she was telling me he was at the end, the very end.  That was terrifying. 

On our final night, I stayed up late playing songs for him.  Slow, peaceful songs and laying by his side so he knew I was there with him.  I told him I loved him and felt the love he had for me.  I always felt that love, he made sure of that.  I didn't know, though, that it was our last night. But looking back on that night, I think I knew it in my heart.  The next morning I went through my usual routine of sitting at his bedside and visiting with our friend Tom who brought me coffee every morning and came to see Scott.  The kids didn't go to school that day and came to the hospital to be with Scott because we didn't know how much time he had left.  Then Tom's family all came too...his youngest daughter was graduating 8th grade that day but she told her family that they had to stop to see Scott before graduation...she knew too.  Somehow she knew.  

Sometime mid to late morning, the hospice Doctor told us that Scott didn't have much time left.  I asked her if she meant that we should all stay at the hospital?  She said yes.  How she knew this, I don't know.  But I think it is a rare thing to know exactly when you're loved one is going to die.  At some point, a short time later, I noticed that Scott's breathing became more labored.  I asked the family to gather around his bedside...Ron, Jan, Paige, and JJ.  JJ was hesitant but ultimately joined us.  We all held onto some part of Scott...his hands, his toes, his head...he was surrounded in a circle of love.  Then I asked Jan (Scott's Mom) to start praying ... It was very shortly thereafter that Scott took his last breath.  

And now, here we are, one year later.  I told Scott so many times that I would be ok.  That I wouldn't like it but that I would be ok.  I think he needed to hear that....he needed to know that I wasn't going to crumble and leave our family to flounder and tumble.  He needed to know that I would continue to raise our children with the values and morals that we, together, held.  I hope that he is looking down on us thinking that we are doing ok, even if our grief, at times, still feels so deep and our sadness, at times, so great.  

On this day, the 9th of June, 2017, the kids and I are spending the day at the beach. I can't describe how much I love them, how I see Scott in both of them and how that brings me such happiness.  He would be so proud of them.   Ron, Jan, Ben, Laura, Katelyn and Brooke will be joining us at the beach, too.  We will smile, laugh, play and we will share stories.  And we will cry.  We will all miss Scott, as we do everyday.  But we will try to remember how he loved life and how he would want us to be living life now too.   And that's all we can do.

I miss you baby


Monday, May 29, 2017

Purple Rain on Memorial Day

Memorial Day is officially the last "holiday" that we have celebrated without Scott in our lives anymore.  I remember back in the day when we used to head down the shore straight from work on the Friday before Memorial Day, turning up the Bruce in the car on the way.   We would invite friends to my parents house on LBI to help us open up the shore house for the season and then enjoy it the rest of the weekend.  What a carefree time and such great, great memories!

Fast forward to last year...the last Memorial Day we celebrated together.  This one was so different from the early days of our relationship.  Scott woke up early in his hospital bed in our family room turned hospital room, about 5:30am. I heard him stir and I got up from the couch that I slept on every night to be close by him and climbed into bed with him.  At this point he couldn't communicate verbally much at all but he was looking off to the right of his bed into the air like he was seeing something there.  He said something like "wow."  I had read about the hallucinations that brain cancer patients see nearing the end of their lives and so I asked him if he was seeing something there and he said yes.  He then said what I thought was "purple rain."  I said "purple rain?" and he replied "yes." Now Prince had died only about one month prior so I thought this was strange and maybe I had misunderstood him so I attemped to confirm his words.  I first asked him "did you say parade? we are going to the parade today." He said "no."  I then asked, "Papa Ron? Did you say Papa Ron? He's still sleeping." He said "no."  So I attemped again and said "purple rain? Are you seeing purple rain?"  He replied with a relieved, "yes."  I asked, "as in Prince...purple rain?"  He said "yes."  It was the first of several hallucinations during that next week and 1/2 before he passed away.    The most moving experience was when he saw his grandfather, Richard Newhall, standing beside his bed. This occured 7 days before he died.  It was a bit scary for him but I reassured him and told him how comforted I was to know that his grandfather was there waiting for him on the other side.  It made me feel as though Scott might be there to greet me on the other side some day.  So on this rainy memorial day, I am comforted by the thoughts of purple rain and the feeling of comfort that knowing there is a place for our souls to go when we die where we will meet up with the ones we loved in this world.  

Lastly and most importantly, on every Memorial Day, I take time to pause and think about all the people in our country who fight for our freedoms and especially those who have died for our freedoms.   I think about all the police officers and first responders who help to keep us safe every day and come to our rescue when we so desperately need it.   Thank you to all of you who serve or have served the citizens of the Unites States, New Jersey, and my small town of New Providece.   Wishing you all a peaceful Memorial Day celebration.  


Monday, May 22, 2017

My Voice, Scott's Voice, Your Voice, Our Voices....

I'm approaching the one year anniversary of Scott's death which will be on June 9th.  The anticipation of this date has been causing me to reflect upon the past year's journey and also to think about what I will do when this date passes.  All of the firsts will be over....first holidays, birthdays, seasons, vacations, get togethers, etc.  But life will continue to go on and Scott will continue to be gone from all those future moments - graduations, concerts, family dinners, Friday night movies, dinner dates, family games....I could go on and on.  You get the idea.  I still love Scott as much as I did one year ago and I'm sure I will forever love him as much as I do today.   But I'm still here and I can still make a difference in this world.  So I'm choosing to use my voice to hopefully help save another family from experiencing the same kind of loss that my family has experienced.  I am making a committment to continue to do what I've been doing for 10 years now which is to help to find a cure for cancer.

I believe we were close to finding that cure.  Scott did an immunotherapy treatment which wasn't approved for brain cancer at all....but it took all the tumors away, remember?  It worked!  But his liver failed, we had to stop the treatment, and then the tumors returned.  Maybe the dosage wasn't right?  Maybe he needed to take it longer?  I don't know.  But I want to help find out.

I've spoken directly with the founder of the Voices Against Brain Cancer organization, Mario Lichtenstein, who lost his son to brain cancer years ago.   I told him I wanted to decide where the money raised from the NJ VABC walk that my team raised would go.  He said OK.  We talked about MSK, Columbia Presbyterian and decided that funding research at either of those instutions is an option.  All of the money that the Spoerl Brainstormer team raises at the 2017 VABC NJ Walk will go directly to fund research to find a cure!!!!!! I am using my voice.....can you join me?   Let's join our voices together to find a cure and help save another family from suffering the same fate as mine.

Here is how you can use your voice:

VABC WALK ON June 11, 2017 in Brookdale Park, Bloomfield, NJ:

1.  JOIN OUR TEAM: Join the Spoerl Brainstormer team and walk or run with us at the Voices Against Brain Caner Walk in Bloomfield, NJ on June 11th.  To sign up with our team, go to: .  Once you have signed up, ask family and friends to support you by donating to the team.  Use YOUR VOICE to help find a cure!

2.  SUPPORT OUR TEAM: Support our team or a specific member of our team by going to our team page: and clicking on the donate button.

3.  WALK VIRTUALLY!  Can't be with us on June 11th in NJ?  SIGN UP at  and fundraise! Ask family and friends to support you.  Walk with us virtually from where ever you are that day.  Send me to facebook or instagram and tag Voices Against Brain Cancer.  

IMPORTANT:  AFTER WALK LUNCH FOR ALL THOSE JOINING OUR TEAM!!  For all those joining us in person on June 11th, we will be hosting a luncheon afterwards in Glen Ridge.  Be sure to sign up soon so I can get a count of all those who will be attending!  

And lastly, VABC, has created a NATIONAL AWARD IN SCOTT'S NAME! This award will be given to someone who exhibits a strong character like Scott.  Someone who is self-less, kind, courageous, know what I mean.  Someone amazing.  It might be a patient, doctor, caregiver, nurse but just someone who is amazing!  The first award will be given out at the Bloomfield Walk on June 11th.  

SO......won't you join the Spoerl Brainstormers on June 11th in Brookdale park and be a voice in the fight against cancer?  Let's continue to give Scott a voice by honoring him with our voices.  Don't forget to sign up asap and then I'll send details about the lunch in Glen Ridge where we will remember Scott, tell stories, and just be together as we honor his memory.

Love to you all!  

Thank you!!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Seasons of Grief and Healing

It's strange how life moves on after you've experienced a loss so profound that your world is literally rocked to the core.    As the seasons changed throughout the past 10 months, so did my grief.  Each season seemed to coincide with a new stage of the grieving process (or healing process as I try to look at it now). 

Summer: Scott died at the very start of summer season, before school was over, before JJ graduated elementary school and before Paige graduated middle school.  Life was so busy for all of us.  Almost too busy for the real grief to set in.  Once school let out and summer vacation started, time seemed to almost stand still.  Real life wasn't happening...I was taking care of all the logistical things that need to be done when your spouse passes away and spending time with family and friends.  Of course I grieved but I was also relieved that Scott wasn't suffering any more...that he was finally at peace and that brought some peace to me as well.  

Fall:   I think for me, it wasn't until the fall that I started to truly grieve the loss of Scott in my life and that might sound strange but it's true.  This is when I began to miss my healthy Scott in our everyday lives.  His missing presence was starting to feel suffocating, and that feeling was growing bigger, not smaller.  While life moved on all around me, I found it hard to focus on the everyday things...even every day conversations with others were hard.   How could it be possible that I would be living the rest of my life without him? This is not how we planned it.  We were supposed to grow old together.

Winter: This season was by far the worst of the year.  The cold, short, grey days seemed to bring on a deep saddness and lonliness that felt almost unbearable at times.  The nights at home were lonely and weekends without him seemed just as bad as the nights.   I shed so many tears and had moments when I had to call on friends and family to help to pull me out of my grief.  It was something I couldn't get through alone.  

Spring: Thank God for spring.  The season of new life, new beginnings, sunshine and flowers.   I think the sun can have a powerful effect on the human spirit.  As soon as the sun started warming up the air, I started enjoying sitting outside for lunch or just to soak in some sun in the yard.   I would even feel comforted by the sound of the birds chirping, remembering how much Scott loved the birds.  I setup a new feeder pole and Paige painted the old bird house, it was enjoyable, almost happy.  The kids and I and my sister also took a trip to Arizona for spring break  (this will be another blog post as there is a lot to share about the trip too!)...we made new memories together.   This felt bitter-sweet at first as it was the first New adventure that we embarked on without him but I know Scott was with us in spirit and he'd be so happy we went.  We had an amazing trip together.

I'm not saying that I don't still grieve Scott...believe me I do.  As I stood overlooking the red rocks in Sedona, I cried.  I cried because I wished he was there with me, I wanted to share that with him and I cried for all the emotion that something that beautful brings out in all of us.   After the trip,  I returned home and cried again for he holds such a large presence in our home and I missed him and grieved him all over again.  My grief is not over as it will go on for my lifetime in some way or another but I'm thankful for the changing of the seasons and how each one has represented a stage in the grieving process or as I'm trying to view it differently now, the healing process.   

Each season, I visited Scott's resting spot at the back of the church.  The changing of the season was evidence that time had passed and I made it through.  Life was going on and I was living each day the best I could, hoping Scott would be proud.  

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

How are the kids?

The most frequent question I get from people is "How are the kids?"  This is asked to me almost daily.   I'm going to do my best to answer this question while keeping the privacy of their teenage lives in check.  The quesiton itself is pretty broad so I'm not always sure what people are asking.  Are they asking "How are the kids handling their grief?" Or "How are they doing in their lives in general?" so I'll try to address both questions.

Kids definitely handle grief different than adults do.  In fact, from the outside it can sometimes appear that they are perfectly fine.  And a lot of the time they are fine.  But sometimes, they just miss their Dad.  It might be because there was a significant milestone for them and they wonder if their Dad is proud of them.  Or they might be struggling with a history assignment and wish Dad was there to explain historical events (because they know all too well that Mom isn't much help in this area -- good at math but not historical events!).  Or sometimes, they are lost in thoughts and memories and just feel sad...tired, sad, and wishing things were different.   We go together to a place called Imagine in Mountside, NJ every other week.  There, we meet with other families who are in similar situations and really understand what we are going through on a regular basis.  I think they both find some benefit not only for themselves but maybe also in helping others.

As for their lives in general, they both have a lot going on which keeps me busy as the chauffer and chef of the household.  JJ just finished basketball season and had a blast playing on two teams.  I watched him gain confidence and skill while having fun.   He's now starting spring soccer season which will keep him active and busy.  He also grew a ton this year ... needed all new clothes and shoes and I know that isn't stopping anytime soon.  He does well in school, works hard, and helps out around the house.   Paige just finished with the High School swim team and earned her first High School varsity letter!  She also enjoyed the freshman volleyball team in the fall...she is loving being part of the High School sports teams.  While she's not playing a spring sport, she is staying in shape by working out at the gym 3x a week.   She has transitioned to high school well and studies hard at home.  She is amazingly profiecient with her school iPad and seems to be able to do everything with ease on that device.  Like most teenagers, she loves to snapchat all day long and seems to have a slight addiction to Netflix.   I am thankful for both of them in my life each and every day and I am very proud of them and the people they are growing up to be, as I know Scott would be too.   We continue to enjoy many family dinners together each week, love to listen to music together, and try to find some joy in every day.

Keeping the Iowa Hawkeye Spirit alive at the Iowa - Rutgers baskeball game.
JJ wore Scott's lucky Iowa hat from college -- it smells and looks pretty disgusting but
apparently still holds some luck since the Hawks won the game! 


Tuesday, March 07, 2017


So many people have talked to me about how hard the firsts were going to be...the first holidays, the first vacations, the first sports events for the kids, the first turn of a new season...all the firsts without many.  And those people were right.  The firsts of everything are immensely difficult.  But the lasts can catch me by surprise...I don't typically think ahead about the lasts.   As we all know, this is tax season and tax season sucks for everyone.  But for me this year, I am filing Scott's estate tax forms --- filing his final forms.  And for the yearly tax forms, it's the last time we are married, filing jointly.  The last time.  I'll say it again, the last time.  It hurts.  I'm now supposed to refer to myself as "single" but that doesn't sound or feel right at all.    I don't want to let go...I don't want to let go of all the lasts.  I want to hang on to them tightly....

I didn't even realize when some things were going to be the last....when was the last time I danced with Scott?  When did we last go for a walk together?  When did he last sleep in my bed?   I talked a lot in my previous blog post about love and love's healing powers for grief and that is all true but grief is painful.  Some days it feels more painful than other days.  Today was one of those days.  Not every day is like today.  Some days, the sun shines bright and the memories feel happy, and life is ok. Sometimes it's even better than ok -- some days are good.  So don't take this post the wrong way.  But sometimes it feels good to tell it the way it is at this very moment.  This is how it is right now.

I know they'll be new firsts and new lasts.  I'll deal with them one by one as they come. And I know I'll be ok.  It won't always be easy but I'll be ok.  I believe that.   A few weeks ago, when I was looking through some old momentos of our life together - so many firsts and lasts - I was listening to a prime music station when the song linked below came on.  I know it was Scott letting me know he was there with me and telling me that I'll be ok.  I know I will and each week gets a little better.  I know I'll be ok.  I just miss Scott and the life that we thought we'd have together.

You'll Be OK:


Monday, January 30, 2017


The greater the love, the greater the grief.  When all that love that you have for someone you lost has no where to go and the love that you crave from that person is absent, the feeling of grief takes over. I think that healing from the grief of great love is impossible in isolation.  People who are grieving need other people. Sometimes this feels opposite of what we think we be alone.  But being around friends and family can help us to feel happy sometimes or even forget about the grief even if it's just for a brief moment or two.   People who are grieving also need friends who will stick by them no matter how many times they break down and cry or feel unbelievably sad at unexpected times that are  often inexpainable.   Grief starts because of love and I think it needs love to heal.    Love from God, love from family, love from friends.  Just love.   I'm lucky to have a lot of love in my life.  Truly blessed.

As most of you know, Valentine's Day was a special day for Scott and I.  I know many people consider it a hallmark holiday and don't celebrate it at all but we did.  We never liked to go out to dinner because the restaurants were too crowded, the menus over-priced, and the service was slow.  Instead, we liked to just be together.  Sometimes we'd just have dinner at home, just the two of us and sometimes we'd just watch a movie at home together.  We would always exchange valentines -- he knew this was always my favorite part and I'm thankful that I saved all of his cards.   And of course, sometime around Valentine's Day we would celebrate this holiday of LOVE by throwing a party with friends, family, good food, good music and dancing.    There is no doubt that this Valentine's Day will be horrendously hard for me.  I will feel the absence of his love in my life creating a hole in my heart that no one else's love seems to be able to fill.  But I'm thankful, just the same, for all the Love in my life that helps to ease the loneliness and that will, hopefully, bit by bit, help to heal my grief.  

To close, I'd like to invite you all to listen to a song by Ben Rector called More Like Love.  In this upcoming month of love, let's all try to live our lives a little More like Love.  We all know that our world could use that right now.  


Sunday, January 01, 2017

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

The holidays are now over and I made it through and even had a bunch of smiles and laughs, along side the tears.  We made some new traditions and kept some of the old.  I think it was a good way to celebrate our first Christmas without Scott.  Papa Ron flew in from Iowa and we spent the later part of Christmas day with the entire Spoerl clan - Ben, Laura, Katelyn, Brooke, Jan and Ron.  Scott was with us in spirit and we felt his presence all througout the holiday.  The kids and I rang in the New Year with friends and that was fun and hard at the same time.  I feel conflicted about the start of the new year because although I'm happy to say goodbye to 2016 as it was, by far, the hardest year of my life, I am also facing the first of many years without Scott.   For now, I will just take each day one at a time as I have done for the past several years and continue to try to find the joy in each day.

On a separate topic, my mom moved to the Lantern Hill senior living community in New Providence over the holiday break.  My siblings and I spent the month of December and the week between Christmas and New Year's preparing mom for the move and then settling her into her new place.  I am so happy that she is only about 2 miles from my house.  The location will enable us to spend more time together and I can get to her apartment easily and quickly if she needs me.   My family is awesome  (Jen, Deb, David, and my kids) ....we all worked together to make this transition as smooth as possible for my mom.  It's not easy to move when you're 83!  She did great and I think she's going to love Lantern Hill.  We are now working on finalizing the sale of her previous apartment and that will hopefully be done by the end of January.

Happy New Year to all of you.  May each of you "Find the Joy" in every day of 2017!


My mom settled into her new apartment!  

Friday, December 09, 2016


So I haven't posted for quite a while - about 3 weeks in fact.  I'm not sure why but it certainly isn't because things have gotten easier.  I wish I could say that was the reason why I haven't posted for a while but it isn't.  I think that I like to try to put a positve feel to my blog posts or at least leave my readers with some thought-provoking idea or insight but I'm out.  I don't think I have had anything postive to say and I'm out of inspirational thoughts so maybe that's why I haven't posted in a while.

Really, I just miss Scott.  The kids miss him, his Mom and Dad miss him, his brother misses him, all his family misses him, his friends miss him, we all miss him.  Now it's Christmas time.  The kids and I put up the tree, without him.  We designed and wrote our Christmas card, without him.  We decorated the house and hung the big wreath, without him.  We go on with our lives, without him.  And we miss him.  And sometimes we are ok.  Sometimes we are distracted by life - school, work, friends - life.  But other times the distractions aren't enough and we are sad, unbearably sad.

I guess my brother helped me to realize this week that I'm a little lucky.  He was trying to comfort me on a hard day and told me that I was lucky to experience the kind of love that Scott and I had for at least part of my life.  And he's right.  I know he's right.  So although it might not help to ease my grief and really my grief is because our love was so deep, at least I had his love.  So if that is the positive spin that I can make tonight, then that it is it.  I was lucky to be loved by him.



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

November 17th

Today would be Scott's 44th birthday.  

It is also Children's Grief Awareness Day.  

Each year, Scott wanted nothing more than to give to others for his birthday.  He would always ask us to make donations to charitble organizations instead of giving him gifts.  So today, I will donate to Imagine in Westfield, NJ.  Imagine is a center for families coping with loss.  The kids and I starting going there about a month ago to connect with others in similar postions.  I think we have all found it to be a positive experience, in different ways.  The center is moving to a new location over the next month, closer to us in Mountainside, NJ, where they will be able to really design their own space to meet the needs of the kids and their families who attend group sessions at Imagine.

The link to donate to this organization is below if would also like to make a contribution to them in memory of Scott, on this day which would be his 44th birthday, and the first time his children will live this special day of the year without him. 


Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Did you know?

Did you know that Scott and I balanced each other? In so many ways we were a perfect match --- filling in the gaps in each other's strengths and weaknesses.    I think if we each stood on the opposite side of a balance scale, it would balance perfectly in the middle.

Did you know Scott would keep me up to date on the current news stories while I would setup the TV, DVR, and Internet so that he could watch and read the day's top stories?  He would help the kids with social studies studying while I could help them with math homework.  I now find myself a bit lost...wondering what he would think of the current state of the country and wishing to God he was here to help Paige and JJ study for history tests.

Did you know that Scott was a fabulous driver?  Seriously, he really liked to drive and I loved that he liked to drive.  On long car trips, I would be the navigator and direct him around traffic jams and take care of the kids needs while he drove and drove.  Eventually I would put my feet up on the dashboard and pull out a book and just enjoy the ride.   Now I'm in charge of the driving and the navigating and the kids and there is certainly no more relaxing with my feet on the dash.

Did you know that we could throw one heck of a party?  It got to the point that we didn't even have to discuss the preparation for a party...we just knew our jobs.  He would go to the liquor store and stock the bar and coolers.  He would move the furntiure and make a ham in the crockpot (you know you all remember the ham!).  I was in charge of the pasta dishes and meatballs and, of course, the music and decorations.  And then there was the late night dancing....nothing better than that.  I will miss dancing with him forever.

Did you know that Scott was the more "serious" parent while I often played the more "fun" role?  He would insist that the kids cleaned up after themselves, turned off lights, spoke respectfully, worked hard, etc.  I balanced his serious side by coming up with fun family outings, breaking out into spontaneous family dance times, and often didn't even notice the lights on that needed to be turned off.  Now I see every light on and struggle with filling in all parenting roles.  I hope that he thinks I'm doing ok.

I could go on and on.  I know that we weren't perfect...nobody is...but we were good together, no we were great together.  I miss him.  I miss him so much sometimes that tears just stream down my face like I've turned on a faucet.  In some ways, I think my grief feels worse now on this 5 month anniversary of his death than ever.   It was always Scott and Julie....Julie and Scott....