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Friday, March 20, 2015 12:26 AM CDT

Sorry it has been so long since I last updated, its CRAZY how much things have changed in the short 9 months that it has been. Well here we go...

Jenny - Almost an empty nester (which is going to be SSOOO weird)! Will be finishing her Masters program this summer and is very excited! Her and Tori will be taking a trip to Mexico next week with a bunch of Tori's friends for their senior year.

Kenzi - Still living in Hutch working at a Presbyterian Homes campus in Hutch, as well. Been dating a guy for a year that her and Kenra are pretty fond of..oh yea...and she's ENGAGED!!!! We are planning for a September wedding!

Kenra - Will be 9 in a month from today. She is in 3rd grade and getting ready for her 3rd grade musical (which she is trying to get a main part as a purple fairy as I type this). It is down to 6 girls in the WHOLE 3rd grade, but we have talked that if she doesn't get the part it was still a huge honor to be picked one of 6 to try out! She is still in skaing and FINALLY passed the level she has been in for 3 years.

Alexa - Moved to Boston in September and LOVES every second of being there. She has told our mom that she is NEVER moving home. It makes us sad, but also happy that she is so happy. I guess it makes for a nice vacation spot for he rest of the family! :)

Connor - A Sophmore at GAC and continues to love being there. He is still playing ball and got the first win of the season last weekend! He is magoring in business accounting.

Tori - The last baby at home. She will be going to UofM school of design for architecture next fall. Not sure who is going to be more sad: mom, me, or Kenra.

It is so crazy how much can change in just a short 9 months. So many good things have happened and we are all so blessed! Thanks for everyone's continued love and support.


Thursday, June 12, 2014 9:39 AM CDT

WOW! I can't believe it has been 10 years since my dad has been gone. Not a day goes by that we don't think about him or wish that he were here. For me it is hard to comprehend that he has been gone for over half of my brother and sister's lives, because in all reality it doesn't seem that long ago. Connor was 9 and Tori was 7. Connor, to this day, does not like to talk about it and Tori says that she doesn't really remember anything about him. Alexa is also one that doesn't like to talk about it. Even at 16, I don't remember a lot about him and I was at that age where I would have rather spent time with my friends than hang out with my dad (which I definatly regret now). Right after he passed away my mom got each of us journals to write our memories of him in. I am glad she did because I know that most of those memories I would have forgotten about had I not written them down. If I were to sit and try to think of some memories it would be a struggle, but reading the ones I had already wrote...it all comes back.

Thanks for all the continued support, messages, and prayers. It gives my family a little peace knowing that our dad/husband/son/brother had any amount of impact to your quit.


Friday, January 10, 2014 2:12 PM CST

Well, first off I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year! Kenra and I enjoyed hanging out with some friends, watching the NY ball drop (I convinced her it was midnight so we could go to bed). Here’s to all the New Year’s Resolutions that I am going to TRY to keep! :)

I have been helping a friend prepare for her wedding. Talking about everything: the shower, the bachelorette party, decorations, food, the venue….and the father/daughter dance. I have finally realized the reason for not wanting to get married. Weddings are all about father’s giving their daughter’s to the man that is suppose to take care of her for the rest of their lives. I wouldn't get that. I wouldn't have my dad there to give me away, to meet the man that is suppose to take care of me for the rest of my life. I couldn't imagine going through that day without him. People say “he will be there in spirit”, yea I get that, but if you haven’t lost a parent, you wouldn't understand. I know that any of my uncles or even my brother would be more than happy to do it, but it still is not my dad.

When I was in high school my dad came and talked to one of my friends’ teen issues class about tobacco (he was going through radiation at the time). He said until that point he never understood that he was not only hurting himself, but he was hurting everyone he had ever met, everyone that cared and loved for him. I am sure he never imagined himself dying, never imagined he would be missing out on so much of our lives. Which I am sure is true to anyone who has every used. No matter the situation (tobacco use, driving drunk, speeding) everyone thinks, “Oh, it won’t happen to me”. WRONG!!! Like my mom has said to so many people, “It doesn't matter what the chances are if it is you that it happens to.

9 1/2 years ago I was that 16 year old, throwing herself on her dad’s feet saying “Don’t go, Dad!” as he took his last breath, realizing everything was going to change from that moment on.

PLEASE, don’t let this be your story!

I can't thank everyone enough for all of your continued wonderful words! Like I have said before, and will continue to say...it really means that world to my family and me.


Friday, November 15, 2013 9:03 AM CST

As we approach the Holidays, we begin to hurt more. This was my dad’s favorite time of the year, from getting together with family, to the awesome food, to the different smells, to watching football. We all wish so much that we was here to experience all of those things with us..BUT we continue to truck along and think of him through it all! Plus, we all know he is doing it real big up there!

Jenny – Started her Masters program this fall and it currently in her 3rd week, she already can’t wait to be finished! She continues to struggle with her pain and is still looking for that one thing to relieve the pain. But for now her rolling therapy will have to do.

Kenzi – Still working at Harmony River Living Center as the Health Information Manager, being a single mom, housekeeper, and pintrest projects continue to be the love of her life, besides Kenra of course!

Kenra – In 2nd grade and LOVES having her step-grandma in her class as a para. She is becoming such a wonderful, responsible little girl! She is in her 3rd year of skating but has opted not to do the skating show this year, she just wants to get better at skating.

Alexa –Working at Tony’s Dinner and Arie at Mall of America and loving the city life, such a perfect fit for her!

Connor – LOVING Gustavus. He is on the baseball team and has made tons of friends (surprising, I know!) He thinks he will be majoring in Business…not 100% sure, but pretty sure.

Tori – Bored out of her mind now that she is the only kid left at home. Due to her Schumann’s disease she is still not able to play sports, but just got done managing volleyball and started managing the girls hockey team. She doesn’t like not being able to play but being able to manage is second best.

Don- Continues to work at HTI, thankfully! He has been pretty busy reffing football on Friday and Saturdays, and when he is not doing that he is going to watch McKinley play football.

McKinley – Going to school at St. Cloud State to play football. He redshirted this year, but has been moved up to 3rd string quarter back. He is also looking at majoring in business.

I am so glad that people come here to find comfort and the strength to keep quit. It is absolutely MIND BLOWING that even after 9 ½ years that he is still touching so many people. It seriously makes my day when I log-in to see someone has written on his wall! Not everyone writes on his wall and that’s okay, we still know there are tons of people coming to his site looking for help, and that is exactly what it is there for!

We wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving and a Blessed Christmas! Cherish your family, as you never know what the future holds!


Friday, May 31, 2013 3:50 PM CDT

Well, here we are approaching the 9 year anniversary of my dad’s death. I can’t believe is has been that long. I feel like it was just yesterday that he was here with us. The month of June is always hard with having his birthday, the anniversary, and father’s day typically all within a week or two of each other, very emotional to say the least. Also, with Connor graduating, it adds a little more emotion to this time of year, thinking about everything that dad continues to miss out on. We all know that he is always with us, but it doesn’t give the same peace as him physically being here. We all just wish we could hear his voice, his laugh, get a hug, and hear him tell his “one-in-a-million Tom Kern” stories. It’s tough and like I have said before…not fair!

Mom continues to have her on-going health issues, she has tried everything and nothing has really been resolved. She is finishing up her school year and getting ready to have Kenra for the summer! I am not sure who is more excited her or Kenra, probably Kenra.

Kenzi is still working as the Health Information Manager and keeping house (I never realized how much work it is), but Kenra and Kenzi love having our own place!

Kenra can’t wait to be done with school so that she and MiMi can go to the pool every day this summer. A water bug just like her mom!

Alexa is still in the cities working at Tony’s Dinner and thinking about traveling.

Connor is graduation in June and will be going to Gustavus, just like mom and dad. He is still not sure what he wants to go for, but will probably be playing baseball.

Tori is still not playing sports, except for a summer adult softball league that her and Kenzi are in together with some friends. Jake’s pizza closed at the end of April so both her and Connor got jobs through the city working at the ball fields around town.

I know that for me it has been very beneficial to keep this site going. I love seeing people write in the guestbook, whether it just being “Thanks for keeping the site open” or a long heartfelt message. It means so much to us to know that our dad/husband/brother/son has helped you with your addiction.

Thanks for the continued love, support, and prayers even though it has been almost 9 years, we still need them!


Monday, March 4, 2013 4:54 PM CST

Alright, I may have stole my mom’s Christmas card as my first journal update…but it’s a start..right?

Jenny – She is still teaching fourth grade at BLHS Schools. Her and Don enjoyed a trip to Vegas with some friends. She has been struggling with leg/hip pain and sleep issues for most of the year. She is feeling hopeful, but still has not completely figured this out.

Kenzi (24)– She has enjoying fixing her house up (one word – PINTEREST!). She is still working at Presbyterian Homes as a Health Information Manager.

Kenra (6) –She is doing great in first grade. She is in her second year of skating and continues to enjoy it. She would also like to be in dance and gymnastics. She is growing up WAY too fast.

Alexa (21) – Was working in dietary at Presbyterian Homes with Kenzi, but has just recently moved back to the cities. She still enjoys cutting and coloring friend’s and family’s hair, but has decided that is not what she wants to do. She is working at Tony’s Diner in Minneapolis. LOVES being back in the cities! Oh, and turning 21 was pretty great too!

Connor (18) – Is a senior this year. He was Homecoming King. He is playing hockey for the winter, but looking forward to baseball season this spring. He was in charge of the student body cheering section for football and volleyball teams. He loved going on the church’s mission trip to West Virginia last summer and will be going on another one this coming summer. He got a job working as a delivery guy at Jake’s Pizza. He is applying to Gustavus, Augustana, and Bemidji.

Tori (16) – Is a sophomore. She is VERY proud of her 4.0 GPA this trimester. She got her license (scary) this past August. She works at Jake’s Pizza as a baker and has also started working for our Parks and Rec department. She loved the mission trip to West Virginia as well and will be going on one again this summer. She was diagnosed with Scheuermann’s disease which causes pain in her lower back, she will have to do exercises and pain management throughout her life. Due to all the pain she decided to quit sports (basketball, softball, and volleyball) until she has a better handle on the pain.

This year has been hard. Dad should have been here for Connor’s senior year. We just had parent’s night for hockey last week. We knew he was there is spirit but, it just isn’t the same. People would tell us that it gets easier in time. It will be 9 years in June and it almost feels like it gets harder. You start to forget his voice, what he looked like, things he would say to us. Its hard and for the most part, feel like it is unfair..

Just like my mom, I am glad that we kept this site up. It is nice to see how many people that we have never met are praying for us and wish us the best. It really means a lot. Not to mention all of the lives that he has saved without him even meeting any of them.

Thanks for the continued love and support

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 6:25 PM CST

It seems to be harder and harder for me to get on here. I still check back often, but don't have the time to write. Mackenzie has asked if she can write on here, and I thought that was a great idea. She can give a different perspective than I can on losing Tom.

I still enjoy hearing from people who are quitting chewing tobacco. It is the main reason this site is still here. As long as I feel there is still a need, I will keep this site up. I hope that Mackenzie's word can inspire you all in your struggles with addiction to chew. Most of you have commented that you couldn't imagine the pain your children would be in if they lost you. She can share the pain she and her siblings have had to deal with in losing their dad.

I will continue to check in here as often as I can. I may even make a comment in the guestbook.

Again, thank you to all those who continue to check this website. It means a lot to all of us to have your support.

God bless your journey.


Friday, November 18, 2011 4:39 PM CST

It's hard to believe that it has been almost one year since I updated this page. Time keeps marching by, and in a blink of an eye, it's been 7 1/2 years since Tom's death. I was talking with a friend today about something that happened shortly after Tom died, and I started crying. I used to reference life's moments by my children's birth. Now I do it by Tom's death. I still think of him many times during the day - sometimes sad, sometimes happy, sometimes apologetic. There are things we say and do to our spouses that we wouldn't say/do to others. At times, they get the brunt of our frustrations. I have guilt over these things because I can't tell him I'm sorry for what I said/did, or that I took him for granted. If only ... I encourage you to tell your spouse you are sorry for taking them for granted. Say/do the things to make it right today because you don't know if they will be here tomorrow. I'll never get to say, "I'm sorry" to him.

Even though this sounds like it is going to be a depressing update, it isn't all depressing. This year, I had the best couple of months I've had since Tom died. February, March, and April felt very good. Even though I had the stress of job/house/family, I was happy. May, June, July are always tough. September/October/November have been ok. All in all, not a bad year. The holidays will be hard, like always. That is never an easy time for anyone who has lost a loved one.

I'm still encouraged by the people who write in from killthecan and quitsmokeless. You guys are wonderful! I often tell people (who have someone in their lives that chews) about these two great websites. I hope more people are helped by the support they get from talking to others who are going through the same thing.

My kids are doing ok. Kenzi bought her own house in Oct., and is enjoying her job as a Health Information Manager. Kenra started kindergarten. Alexa loves Minneapolis and is looking for a job in cosmetology. She's glad she's done with her schooling, but it isn't much fun searching for a job. Connor decided not to go out for football this year. I'm not sure if Tom is connected to this decision or not. Tom played football in high school and college. Connor doesn't like to talk about his dad very much - it hurts too much. He decided to go back to hockey, which he hasn't played for 3 years. Baseball is his favorite, and it went well. Tori is perhaps the most competitive of the four. She pushes herself in academics and sports. She works very hard. I'm proud of all my children, and I know Tom is too!

Don and I are happily married. It still seems weird sometimes that I have two husbands (which is how it feels). It's hard to explain - loving two men at the same time. I'm very lucky that God gave me two wonderful husbands!

Thanks for continuing to be a part of my life by reading and responding to my posts. I'm glad God brought us into each others' lives. Enjoy the holidays with your loved ones.


Sunday, November 28, 2010 0:15 AM CST

I want to begin by thanking those of you who write in from quitsmokeless.org and killthecan.org. It continues to touch my heart when I read a guestbook entry from someone in these groups. I check this website about once per week to read any new entries. I'm glad you are finding encouragement from Tom's story. I hope it helps you stay strong.

The last time I wrote I was really struggling. It was related to Alexa's graduation and not having Tom here. I started to feel better in July when all the grad stuff was over. I continue to have tough times, and I'm sure I will have them forever. However, it does feel good to know that I don't have to be in that place all the time.

On a down note, all of my children have really been struggling over the past few months. Tori was 7 was Tom died, and she is very sad that he isn't here for all her sporting events, to congratulate her on her good grades, and give her a big hug when she needs a dad's shoulder. She wanted to start seeing a counselor. It seems to be helping, but it's hard to know what is an emotional roller coaster due to Tom or due to being 14.

Connor, Kenzi, and Alexa don't want to talk about it. It hurts too much. Tori wants to talk to them about it, but they won't. I talk to her as much as I can, but it isn't enough. We got out home movies so she could see him and hear his voice, but she said it made her miss him more. I don't know what else to do for her. Sometimes I find myself wishing it were 20 years from now, and the pain would be less intense. Then I remember how quickly time flies, and I want those years back.

With the holidays coming, I know it is going to be hard for the next few weeks. Say some prayers for us that we can make it through the holidays with no sadness and longing. Thanks for listening. God bless your lives.


Monday, May 10, 2010 12:10 AM CDT

I'm sliding backwards. I have been angry since Christmas because life is either at a standstill or going backwards. During the last 5 years I felt I was gradually doing better. I would have dips of depression and sadness, but then I would come back. However, the last 6 months have had fewer days of happiness than sadness. I'm angry that I'm not on that gradual incline towards happiness. I want to enjoy life, but there is a cloud hanging over me at all times. For the first time, I am actually contemplating an anti-depressant. I recently told a friend that I still cry every day - sometimes a lot, sometimes a little. She said, "Still, after all this time?" It won't ever go away, but I thought it would continually get better.

I'm sure part of it has to do with Alexa graduating. Her hockey team made it to state for the second year in a row. In the past two years, the best games I have seen the team play have been the section championship games at Gustavus (where Tom and I went to college). Tom's work-study job was at the hockey rink. Last year, they beat Mankato West (Tom's high school) to go to state. I told Alexa that Dad had to be there because Hutch was playing Mankato West at Gustavus - how could he NOT be there!

Alexa has her last choir concert in a couple of weeks. I know I will cry. They sing a goodbye song for the seniors as we watch a slide show of their baby pictures and senior pictures.

We are planning to have Tom's high school and college friends come at the end of her graduation party to tell stories about him for the kids. We all love to here stories about him. It's hard to celebrate when he isn't here to celebrate with us. I know graduation day will be hard - watching her, knowing that she is missing him.

We recently had to junk Tom's Ranger. It was too old and needed too many repairs. Mackenzie and I had the hardest time parting with it. She drove it right after Tom died until she had Kenra. It was letting go of one more piece of him.

Connor recently hit a homerun, and I know he wished Tom were there to congratulate him. Tom would have loved to see him all dressed up for the homecoming dance. He would enjoy teasing Connor's about his girlfriend! Tom would be proud of his grades and the quality of his character.

Tori really needs her dad to give her a big hug. She is such a good girl, but anytime she makes a mistake she thinks she is letting him down. He needs to tell her that he loves her no matter what. She beats herself up sometimes. It isn't enough for me to tell her Tom loves her no matter what.

I'm so proud of the people our children are growing up to be. I'm happy they have so much of Tom's character in them. I wish he were here to share in my joys as I watch them grow and mature.

Thanks for your continued support. I need the words of encouragement.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009 1:24 PM CDT

Sometimes life just sucks! (I really don't like that word, but it is fitting.) We are having a hard time. June is full of Tom's birthday, the anniversary of his death (5 years), and Father's Day.

Tori is getting involved in more activities, and she wants him here. She said it isn't fair that he never got to see her play softball, volleyball, and basketball. She had award's day at the end of the school year, and she wanted him to be proud of her accomplishments. We know he is with us, but it isn't the same as having him here to give her a big hug and say, "I'm proud of you!"

Connor is struggling with the same issues. He is growing up so fast and wants to talk to his dad about "guy stuff" - girls, sports, girls. It's not quite the same talking to me. On Tom's birthday, Connor had a baseball tournament. He fell apart between games. He wants him here to cheer him on.

Alexa is trying to be so grown up, but I know she aches for him to hug her (just like the rest of us). She will be a senior next year, and she is starting to think about all the things he won't be there for - her last high school musical, hockey captain, choir concerts, graduation ceremony.

Mackenzie is moving to Mankato with Kenra to continue her education. We are going to miss them so much! We watch Kenra 4 days a week. It's a good move for her, but it will be hard for us.

I hurt for all my kids, as well as myself. I recently got mad at Tom for dying (something I have never done). If he hadn't died, we wouldn't be in so much pain. It's dumb, I know, but I can't help it. Sometimes it is hard to see the good in life when it hurts so much. We will love and miss Tom forever. I just want it to stop hurting. I know there are good things. Don helps me with that. He continues to be very supportive, and he knows this doesn't have anything to do with him. It's weird loving two men at the same time.

This website continues to give me support. Tom's mom just talked to someone who continues to check on us through this caringbridge site. I also just read another guestbook entry from a man who found us through killthecan.org. Thanks to all of you for your kind words. They mean a lot.

Thanks for listening (reading). It is very therapeutic for me to write all this out.


Monday, December 29, 2008 5:44 PM CST

Christmas is hard. All the memories of Tom at Christmas time make us all so sad. He loved the holidays - even putting up the lights! He and I got into a few disagreements while we were putting them up. I can laugh about it now. He had such a great laugh! It was infectious.

I recently ran into an old friend of ours who told Tori that her dad was one of the greatest men he had ever known. He had such a zest for life and was always fun to be around. It made both of us cry. We are proud that he was in our lives. It's difficult for her because she is having a harder time remembering him. That makes me sick to my stomach. Tom was such a good man, and she won't remember him.

We had Christmas with Tom's family last weekend. His mom gave all of us a framed picture of him and a calendar that has old family pictures throughout the 12 months. We love it! Don is good about it, which shows what a wonderful man he is! When Don and I were dating, Tom's dad said, "It looks like you've got yourself another fine fellow." That means the world to me.

The kids are doing ok. Kenzi starts the nursing program in January. Kenra is 2 1/2 and into the terrible twos. Alexa is enjoying hockey. Connor decided not to do hockey this year, but is watching other people play. Tori is enjoying basketball.

As hard as it is sometimes, it's better than it was 4 years ago. I think about him every day, and I cry often. I miss him so much. I guess that's a good thing - it means we had a good life together (full of ups and downs, but good).

Thank you for your kind words of support. I hope we all make good memories with our loved ones in 2009. Those memories are priceless! God's peace be with you!


Tuesday, June 3, 2008 12:05 AM CDT

Thank you to the people from killthecan.org and quitsmokeless.org who have read this page and written in to this page. Your messages mean so much to me. I often find myself crying because I am overwhelmed at the number of lives that Tom's story has touched. I know there are many people who read the messages but don't write anything, and that is fine too. I check the guestbook entries often. I just wish I had the time to write a new journal page as often as I read the new entries.

Today is my last day at school for the summer. I have cleaned my classroom and am waiting to check-out. The kids have school until Thursday, so they are jealous that my students were done with school last Friday.

I find myself getting down at this time of year. It always happens in May. This was the time when Tom really started going downhill. As the anniversary of his death approaches, I get very teary and feel a tightness in my chest. It will be four years on June 12. It is hard to believe it has been that long. His birthday is this Saturday. I miss him so much! I continue to think about him every day. I want to hear him tell stories and laugh. I want him to hug the kids and me. I don't think these feelings will ever go away.

This past winter Connor(13) and Tori(11) had some hard times. They are going through many emotional changes as they are beginning to enter the teen years. Part of their sadness is due to the hormonal changes, but they have been missing him more over the past few months. It comes and goes, but they have each stated that they hate their lives. They miss him and wish he were here. Don't we all! The only thing I can do is hug them, love them, and tell them that we just have to take this one step at a time. They need to feel the sadness, and then let it go.

Kenzi and Kenra enjoy living on their own. We watch Kenra quite a bit at our house. The kids love to play with her. She is such a joy in our lives! Kenzi will start the nursing program in January. She is also working at the local nursing home as a nurse's assistant.

Alexa got her driver's license in April. Needless to say, she is constantly asking if she can run any errands for me. She just started working at Dairy Queen, and she loves having her own money.

Don and I continue to try and find time to spend together. We went to Jamaica in February for a belated honeymoon. It was wonderful, and we plan on doing it again next year.

Our summer will be busy with baseball, softball, various camps, and a mission trip.

Again, thank you to all of you for your words of encouragment and support. It means more to me than you can imagine. God continues to work in mysteries ways, and He impacts our lives in ways we may never realize!!



Monday, December 17, 2007 5:05 PM CST

Life is very busy. We are in constant motion with this large family. It is good that is it busy because it takes our minds off of the sadness of the holidays without Tom. He loved the time from Thanksgiving through Christmas - especially the food! Even though we don't want to be sad, we don't have much control over the sad thoughts we have. Sometimes it's the little things - the funny things he would say, his smile, his laughter, his goofy looks - that we miss. Other times it's the important things - Connor's goal in hockey, Tori's shot in basketball, Alexa's musicals and singing the national anthem at the high school events, Kenzi's maturity and responsibility, Kenra's laughter - he's missing out on. I'm happily married and missing him every day. What a contradiction!

I look back on the past three and one-half years, and I can't believe he is gone. I'm glad I'm not is the depths of despair that I was in at the beginning, but I know I will have a certain sadness for the rest of my life. And yet, God is good. I also never thought I would love again. I never thought I could be happy again. Even though I miss Tom every day, I can also be happy and have a good life. Thank you, God, for the ability to love again. It's a little like having a second child. You think how can I possibly love another child the way I love this one - and you do. Every love is different. We can love lots of people in our lives.

I want to thank all the people that have signed the guestbook from the quitsmokeless.org website. Every time I think it is time to close this caring bridge website, someone else writes and says how Tom's story has helped them. I know I don't write as often as I would like to, but I'm glad that this site is here to encourage others to continue to fight the addiction to chewing tobacco. It would make Tom happy to know he was helping others.

Thanks for all the words of encouragement that have been written over the past few years. I love reading them.

Happy Holidays!

Love, Jenny

Friday, March 16, 2007 2:38 PM CDT

It's been a long time since I have written. I have been very busy. Don and I got married on January 19 and moved into our new house. Everything is going smoothly. It is a strange feeling to be married again. When I use the word "husband" the first image that pops into my head is Tom. It will take some getting used to, but I am happy to call Don my husband. I am very happy with Don. He is a good man. I love him. The kids like him. However, I still have sadness everyday when I think about Tom. I miss him and the life we had together. There is a part of me that still feels guilty for moving on with my life and finding a new love. My head knows that this is what Tom would want for me. I have to go on with my life and do what makes me happy, but I can't help the way I feel. I'm sure it will just take a time.

When I think about our kids, I feel pain. It hurts when Connor scores a goal, and Tom is not physically there to share in that moment. I know how much all the kids want him there to share in the special moments of their lives. Connor and Tori have started to say that they can't remember things about Tom and that just kills me. Tom was such a great guy/husband/father that I want them to remember everything about him. I tried telling them some of the things he used to do with him, but nothing sounded familiar to them. I have plans to turn all of our old camcorder tapes into DVDs so they can watch them more easily. We take out our old tapes once in awhile, but it is hard to find spots that have Tom in them. I always camcorded the kids; rarely Tom and me. I am hoping that seeing Tom on tape will jog their memory, or at least plant some memories.

Adjusting to a blended family has been easier than I expected. We are having some of the same issues that I dealt with at my old house- siblings getting along and no one wants to pick up after themselves! I think these are universal problems! :-)I know it is still early yet, so I am not ready to let my guard down as far as problems arising with the blending of two families. However, I am very thankful that things are going well so far.

God continues to bless us with joy in the midst of our sadness. He gives us what we need when we need it. Thank you,God for the people You have placed around us to help us get through this painful time in our lives. Help us to remember that because You are in control, everything will be fine.


Thursday, September 21, 2006 3:22 PM CDT

The summer was very busy with baseball, baseball, and more baseball. Connor played a lot of games and tournaments. It was fun to watch him play, and I enjoyed going to all his games; however, it was nice to be done with all the traveling. Tori really enjoyed softball. It was fun to watch her have some good plays/at bats. Alexa was busy babysitting Kenra when Mackenzie was at work or wanted some time off to be with friends. She also went to Nashville with our church group for a youth retreat. She had a great time and continues to be very involved with church. Mackenzie had a summer of work, friends, and Kenra (who is still a beautiful, wonderful baby)

Fall is just as busy: Mackenzie's work/college, Alexa's volleyball, Connor's football, Tori's swimming, my work. It is a hectic time. It is also a sad time because this was Tom's favorite time of year: cooler weather, football games, hunting, Thanksgiving (eating!!), and Christmas.

In the last three weeks we have again had many changes. Don and I got engaged. We all started school. Don and I bought a house contingent on the sale of both of our houses. Talk about stress! I have been crying a lot lately due to all these factors. Our engagement is bittersweet. I still miss/love Tom so much. I also love Don. It is difficult to fit those two feelings into one body. I'm happy and sad at the same time. I never thought my life would be like this. I thought Tom and I would be married until we were old, and then we would die of old age. That's what I want, but that's not what I've got. I have a hole in my heart, but at the same time my heart is filled with love for two men. Don is a wonderful man, and I am so happy that God brought us together. It feels right to be with him. Can you see where all my confusion comes from? I am an emotional mess right now. I feel that God brought us together and that this is going to be good. I have to remember to stay in the present and let God take care of everything.

The kids have mixed feelings as well. They all like Don. Tori can't wait to have a step-dad and move to a new house. Connor doesn't want a step-dad - ever! He doesn't ever want to leave our house! (No, I would not let him live there while he was in his 30+'s!) Connor is trying to figure out his relationship with Tom and what that means to bring Don into the picture. I have told him we will always love/miss Dad. It is always ok to laugh/cry/talk about him. We are not trying to forget him or get rid of him. Tough lessons for an eleven year old to learn. Mackenzie and Alexa are in the middle.

We have a rough road ahead. Don has a son, McKinley, who will be living with us. He is the same age as Connor. We know blending a family will be difficult, but we believe we can make it work.

Next week will be another emotional time. Tom's brother is getting married. If Tom were here, he would've been the bestman. He and his brother were very close. I know it will be hard on all of us to be together without him. Tori is the flowergirl, and she is very excited. Don is going with me. He has meet all of Tom's family except this brother. I hope it isn't too uncomfortable for him to be there with all of us being emotional about Tom.

I still think about Tom constantly, and I cry a lot. However, I know that it is better than it was 2+ years ago. I know it will continue to get better. Then slide backwards. Then get better. It is like the waves of the ocean - calm, rough waters, rising to a swell, and then crashing down. God, help me ride the waves.

Please pray for God's wisdom in our decision making; in regards to houses, children, finances - all the things married couples have to deal with. We will not be setting a wedding date until we have a closing date on all the houses. We are in no hurry. He will make it work when it is supposed to happen. God's timing on this will be perfect, as usual.

Thanks for being here.

Love, Jenny

Tuesday, May 2, 2006 3:11 PM CDT

Changes! Wow, have there been changes at our house! First of all, I am a grandmother. Mackenzie had a beautiful, dark haired, blue eyed baby girl on April 20. Kenra Louise Kern weighed in at a whopping 9 lbs. 14 oz. and was 21 3/4 in. Because Mackenzie is only a senior in high school, this was not good news. I was angry for a long time, but God gave me the realization that he can take a mistake and turn it into a miracle. Mackenzie had broken up with the father before she found out she was pregnant, but they have agreed to be friends. He is actively involved right now and loves his little girl.

Even though Kenra is a wonderful baby (sleeping through the night at 5 days old), Mackenzie had a difficult delivery and continues to have problems. She tore her episiotomy stitches twice and had to go through surgery to have it repaired. She is on bedrest for the next two weeks. I pray for strength and healing for her and a positive attitude. I pray for patience for the rest of us because she is crabby due to all the pain she is in.

The other change that has taken place is that I am dating. A man who has been a casual acquaintance for about 5 years asked me out in February. Don is a wonderful man, however, I cried every day for the first three weeks we dated. Even though we were having a nice time, I felt guilty. I was trying to figure out if my dating meant I loved Tom less. What I realized is that I hadn't grieved the death of our marriage. Every day I am called "Mrs. Kern". Which reinforces the idea that I am still married. I finally had to say, "I am not married anymore." I was trying so hard to figure everything out that I was causing myself a great deal of anxiety and stress. Finally, God told me I didn't have to figure it out. I just had to let it be. Be present, enjoy it, and whatever happens, happens. I have felt much better since then. On our first date, I told Don I needed to talk about Tom and cry about Tom. He said he was ok with that. I am feeling very happy these days - a feeling I never thought I would feel again. I continue to cry about Tom - all the things he isn't here to share with us. I will always love Tom and miss Tom, but it feels good to be able to smile, laugh, and be happy. In reference to dating, I asked God to open doors so wide I would be able to tell He wanted me to walk through them. I have definitely seen those wide doors. Out of the ashes, God brings new life.

The journey doesn't end here, but I can see a new chapter unfolding. There will always be tears, sadness, missing, longing; but there will also be joy, laughter, smiles, and happiness. Life goes on.

Thank you for being here for me.

Love Jenny

Thursday, February 9, 2006 12:29 AM CST

I'm sorry it has taken so long to update this webpage again. I can't believe it has been two months since I wrote last.

As expected, the holidays were hard. We tried to do something fun for the whole family; we went to Breezy Point Resort for some snowmobiling, skating, sledding, and swimming. We went with another family and had a good time. The snowmobile hasn't been used since. However, it is really snowing right now, so maybe that will change.

We keep plugging away one day at a time - keeping busy with daily activities. The kids continue to enjoy their activities. Thank you to all the family members who have made it to Connor's hockey games - especially Tom's brother Mike. He has really stepped in and taken an active role is coming to the kids' activities. I have been trying to paint my kitchen for a couple of months, but I can't quite get the right color. Color number six is on my walls to stay. It is not perfect, but it will do. Tom was always better at knowing exactly what he wanted. Since his death, it is so hard for me to make decisions. My brain doesn't work the way it used to.

I still am not back to feeling as good as I did before Thanksgiving, but I feel a little better than I did at Christmas. Besides my sadness about Tom, I think part of my down feeling is because I really don't like winter. I have enjoyed the mild days we've had because I don't like being cold. I'm looking forward to spring so we can't get outside and get some warmer fresh air. Being able to be outside in nice weather helps me feel better.

Mackenzie helped me update the pictures on this website. (of course she knew more about it than I did). So take a look. It was hard to go through family pictures and not have Tom in them. Everytime we do something as a family, I have moments of sadness because in my mind I can see what he would do if he were there. My heart aches for him to be there.

Thanks again to everyone for your support. You all have helped me more than you will ever know.

Love, Jenny

Saturday, December 10, 2005 8:42 PM CST

The holiday activities are keeping us busy, which is a good thing because it gives us less time to be sad. Thanksgiving at the Kern's was difficult because he should be there. Everytime we all get together as a family it hurts more because his absence leaves such a big hole. Tom loved the holiday season. Every decision I make, I think about what Tom would do. Tomorrow we are going to put a small decorated pine tree at his grave. Last year, the kids each picked out a picture of themselves with Tom. I laminated them, and we wired them to the tree at his grave. Some friends have placed special memorabilia at his grave, so we will attach those items to the tree as well. This year we are going to add battery-operated lights. All of these activities make us feel better because it is a way of honoring Tom.

I feel as if we are beginning to heal. I can go many days without crying, and there are actually days where I can say I feel good. I have even had times where I was able to laugh a real, feel-good-all-over laugh. We still continue to live one day at a time, which is a good way to live. I wish I could slow down a little and smell the roses. That's my next goal.

Mackenzie has decided to attend Mankato State with a major in either nursing or elementary education. Alexa is in the middle school musical "Aladdin" and will start Junior Olympic Volleyball in January. Connor is enjoying hockey, and Tori started basketball for the first time (so far so good). School is going well for me, but there are days when I have so many things to get done that I wish I could take the day off.

Thanks for being here for me. It is always therapeutic for me to write on this website. I praise God for all the people he has surrounded us with throughout Tom's illness and death. We really need all our friends and family.

Love, Jenny

Thursday, October 27, 2005 3:32 PM CDT

Thanks to all of you for your support. Our family and friends continue to be there for us when we need them.

It took a few days, but I slowly began to feel better. I have actually had a few days where I can honestly say I felt good. It's a nice change to be happy. Part of the reason I feel better is because of a group that I have been meeting with that is helping me focus on being connected to God and living in the moment. I am trying to enjoy the present - instead of looking back or forward.

Having a weekend to myself while the kids were in Mankato was helpful. Tom's reunion was nice; although there weren't many of his classmates at the game. This weekend my mom is coming to stay with the kids while I go on a women's retreat in Wisconsin. I am looking forward to being able to go for walks, read, and maybe do a little shopping.

The kids seem to be doing better. They definitely live in the moment. I am trying to be more like that. Kenzi has decided to quit swimming. She started the season with a terrible cough. I took her to the doctor twice, but nothing seemed to help. It lasted six weeks. There were also some personality issues that made it difficult for her to enjoy swimming. She deliberated for a long time before she actually quit, but she is very happy she did. It has been an added blessing to me because I don't have to pack everyone up to go to Away swim meets. Alexa is busy with the middle school musical. Connor finished football and has started hockey. Tori is enjoying playing with friends.

Time to run. Thanks for being there for us. We appreciate all the support you have given to us.


Thursday, September 22, 2005 2:01 PM CDT

I needed to stay home from school today. I have been crying since yesterday, and I can't seem to pull it together. I miss him so much. I don't want to do this anymore. It's too hard. There are so many people that are here for me, but there isn't anything anyone can do to change my life. I don't want this life. I want my old life back. I know I will get through this just like I have all the other down times, but when I am in the middle of this sadness, it seems like it will never end. I just want to be happy. I want to be the person I used to be - upbeat, outgoing. Will I ever be that person again?

I feel so bad for the kids because it hurts them to watch me cry. Connor was supposed to go watch his cousin play college football last week, but he was too sad. He said he wanted to go to the game with Dad. Tori wants him to come down from heaven so she can give him a hug, and then he can go right back to heaven. Whenever Alexa talks about him, her jaw tightens and her lips quiver. Mackenzie has been angry lately. It's not fair that your dad isn't here for your senior year of high school.

Taking today off is a start to getting myself back on track because I don't have to go to work and fight back the tears all day. I can just let them flow. Tom's parents are taking the kids this weekend so I can have some quiet time. I need to just step back, take a deep breath, and relax. I have to keep telling myself that I will get through this. I need God to put a little sunshine in my heart to help me see the light at the end of the tunnel. Please continue to pray for us. Pray that I can take things one step at a time, keeping my focus on right now, and not let things build until I can't take it anymore.

Thanks for listening (reading!),

PS-I plan on going to Gustavus Homecoming on Oct. 8. It is
Tom's 20th class reunion. I would enjoy seeing any of you that can make it.

Friday, July 29, 2005 2:11 PM CDT

I finally got the computer back, but it still isn't working well. I have decided to get a new computer (this is a '98) and let the kids play with this one.

We have had many struggles since my last entry. May and June were really tough because of all the anniversaries. May was filled with memories of him going downhill so fast and all the doctor's appointments and tests. June was filled with Tom's birthday, my birthday, and the one year anniversary of his death. We were also saddened by the death of Kelby Macemon, an 11 year old girl we knew in our community. July 27 would have been our 20th wedding anniversary. However, I look back on where we were one year ago, and I know we are better.

Tori came to me crying the other day because she wanted to hug Tom. I feel that way a lot. I still have images of him laying in his hospital bed, so weak he could hardly open his eyes or speak. It hurts me to think about it, but I can't even begin to imagine what it was like for him. He was so incredible though his whole ordeal. His brother Mike said it best at his funeral, "Tom never complained, always said thank you, and always kept his sense of humor." I miss him so much.

All of the fun things we do have a little dark cloud over them because we wish Tom were there to enjoy them: visiting Tom's brother in California, Tori's softball games, Connor's team taking second place in their baseball tournament, going to Lake Shetek with Tom's family (he loved jetskiing), Alexa's plays, seeing Mackenzie working her first job.

August is quickly approaching and that means school starting. I have always loved the beginning of the school year, but dread the ending of warm days of summer. However, like last year, I am nervous as to what this school year holds: Mackenzie's senior year/applying to college/her last year of high school swimming, Alexa's dance/volleyball/ plays, Connor's football/hockey, Tori's swimming, everyone's homework, sticking to a stricter schedule, how can I make it through all this without Tom, I wish he could be here to see ... And the list goes on. Ohhh, but how I wish he were here!

Thanks again for being there for me. Your entries to the guestbook mean a lot to me. I have also checked in on the quitsmokeless.org website because of the entries in the guestbook. It means a lot to me to know that Tom's story is helping some of them in their battle with tobacco addiction. Keep strong! The benefits of not chewing far out way the pleasure of the tobacco.

We made it through one year, and we will make it through another - one day at a time, with help from family and friends, and with God's help.

Love, Jenny

Monday, May 9, 2005 1:13 PM CDT

I'm at school again. I have not had time to get our home computer fixed so I am doing everything on my school computer. I went to take the computer in today, but the business was closed. I'll have to try again tomorrow.

Mackenzie's two proms went well, but it is nice to have it over. She turned 17 last Friday. Her friend Nikki and I had a surprise party for her. Other than not having her dad there, she said it was one of her best birthdays. She did go out to his grave for a while on her birthday. She goes out there probably once a week. I'm glad she sets aside time to go out there and talk to him.

Alexa's dance recital is this weekend, and she has a dance competition the weekend after that. Then she will be done for the school year. She might do a volleyball camp this summer. She may also do the summer theater production "State Fair".

Connor just finished his spring hockey league with a record of 7-2-1. He scored 5 goals over the last 5 weekends. He really enjoyed it. Tonight he starts baseball and is getting into the swing of swim club. He loves being a busy, busy kid!

Tori is enjoying swim club and is starting to show an interest in other sports. She wants to sign up for a basketball camp and a softball league. She is also very excited that I have agreed to take Connor and her to California in June to visit Tom's brother Bob.

All of these activities plus my job and household responsibilities have really gotten me down. Friends have helped me out with some of the running, but even decision making is overwhelming. I am looking forward to being done with school on May 27, so I can have more time to get household stuff done. I know I will probably be down at least through the anniversary of Tom's death on June 12. I just have to remember to take it one day at a time and give the rest to God. He has gotten me through all the down times before, and I know He will do it again.

Thanks for listening, caring, and praying.

Love, Jenny

Friday, April 22, 2005 2:36 PM CDT

I have a few minutes to write while my students are in music. Our home computer has a virus, so I have had a lot of difficulty doing any computer work at home. At school I have very limited time at the computer.
My trip to Florida was great. It was wonderful to only take care of myself for four whole days. Thank you Mom for inviting me to go. Thank you Jim and Linda for allowing me to stay with you.
We continue to have many ups and downs. A couple of weeks ago I had a first - I didn't cry for an entire day. It didn't last long because I am back to crying every day. As we get closer to the one year anniversary, I am feeling sadder and sadder. May 1 of last year was when he really started going down hill. It was also the same day as Mackenzie's prom last year. Tomorrow she is going to the Buffalo Lake-Hector prom with a friend. Next weekend she is going to the Hutchinson prom with a friend. I think the Hutch prom will be harder because there will be so many similarities to last year, except we won't have Tom.
The kids are getting involved in their spring sports. Mackenzie, Connor and Tori are starting High Tides Swim Club on Monday. Connor is finishing with a spring hockey league and will be starting baseball soon. Alexa is finishing volleyball, and dance goes until the end of the school year. She isn't sure what she wants to be involved in this summer. We are all ready for the end of the school year. I t been an exhausting year.
Mackenzie just called and told me that the washing machine is smoking! What next! There have been so many things that have gone wrong in the past three weeks that are things Tom usually took care of. I don't want to deal with these things. There are so many ways I miss him that I never imagined. There have been many times that I have wanted to quit, but I can't. Trying to deal with the kids grief on top of mine has been hard, but I'm glad I have them to make me keep going.
I need to get my students so I have to go. Thank you all for your continued support and prayers. Yes, Karp, I got your e-mail. You're right - Heaven is our dessert and the best is yet to come!
Love, Jenny

Monday, January 31, 2005 12:38 AM CST

I'm sure some of you are saying, "Finally, a new journal entry." I am too. I'm also saying, "Finally, things are getter a little better."
Christmas was very difficult. However, I wasn't prepared for the weeks following Christmas. I'm not sure why, but they were worse than Christmas. There was a lot of anger in our house. We were all yelling at each other. We had a family meeting the middle of Jan. to try and get back on track. Then I made the kids go to a grief camp called Camp Amanda. It is for kids in grades K-12 who have lost someone significant to them. Tori was the only one who wanted to go. The other three did not go willingly. I dropped the kids off on Sat. and picked them up on Sun. When I asked Alexa how it went, she said "Awesome!" It was good for the kids to meet other kids that are feeling the same things they are feeling. They made some friends and exchanged some e-mail addresses. I'm so glad I made them go.
Tori has become quite a writer. She recently drew a picture and shared this writing with me: This is a hart. It's brooken...Because there is someone missing. The zigzags are the brooken pesas. I wonder what is missing? We have mom, Tori, Connor, Alexa, Mackenzie. But wear is Dad?
She writes in her memory journal quite often. She writes poems and stories. After Camp Amanda, Connor wrote in his memory journal for the first time. He was so proud to show me that he had written two pages. Until that time, he always wanted me to write in his journal for him. I know he wishes Tom were here to watch him play hockey. He is loving it and has scored two goals and had two assists. However, he is disappointed his team hasn't won any games.
Mackenzie and Alexa continue to be typical teenagers. Which is tough enough, without adding the death of your dad on top of it. Many of our friends are trying to do all they can to help each of us through this. We are so thankful for all their help.
Alexa just had the performances for "Bugsy Malone". She had a great time. Tom would've enjoyed seeing her sing and dance. We are all proud of her.
I actually have something to look forward too. Each year my parents visit their friends in Sanibel Island, FL. This year my dad decided not to go, so my mom called me to go! In two weeks I am going on a vacation - without my kids! I'm looking forward to relaxing on the beach and reading a good book.
The waves of our emotional ocean continue to build and crash, and we praise God that He is there to catch us when we crash. We are thankful He provides us with the relief of calm waters. We are finally seeing some calm waters these last few days and hope that we see many more to come.Thank you again for your continued support. It means so much to us.
Love, Jenny

Thursday, December 16, 2004 4:26 PM CST

I am at school right now; waiting for my students music program to begin (that's why I have all this time to write). It didn't make sense to drive a half an hour to spend two hours at home to drive half an hour back. So I just stayed and got school work done and updated this website. It is so nice to be able to write and know that I will not be interrupted 10 times!

I keep thinking that I am going to have to end this website soon. But I find that journaling here is very theraputic for me, and it is a good way to keep people informed about how we are doing. I haven't decided whether or not I will send out Christmas cards. It depends on time and how I feel. Maybe I'll send out after Christmas cards. I also think I am going to update this at least every two weeks, and yet here it has been one month. Where does the time go?

First of all, it went to Mackenzie's swim meet. The Hutchinson Tigersharks are State Champs for the second year in a row! Mackenzie didn't have her greatest meet, but we are still very proud of her. The 200 freestyle was her strongest event, but she didn't make it back for finals. She said she was too nervous. After that race, she calmed down and did much better. She placed tenth in the 500 yard freestyle (an event she didn't even swim last year). Her 200 freestyle relay finished seventh, and her 400 freestyle relay took first! Now she can relax and get a job!

The time has also gone to Alexa's dance and play practices. Fortunately, her dance competition and recital are not until May, so I just have to make sure she gets to practice. "Bugsy Malone" will be performed at the end of January. She also decided to try J.O. Volleyball starting at the end of January. This will be a new experience for us.

Connor's hockey also takes up a lot of time. Practices three nights a week and a game once a week really bite into your time. One of Tom's softball friends has been taking care of getting him to and from practice. Thank you so much, Jeff. That is a big load off my shoulders.

Tori is the only one not involved in any organized activity - thank you, Tori! She does love to get together with her friends and asks me constantly for a friend to come over.

Many people kept telling me to do something for myself. I thought about this a lot. What is it that takes my mind off of everything and lets me just enjoy? How do I manage the kids? I finally came up with an answer. I like to watch high school sports. Mackenzie and Connor do too. Alexa and Tori sometimes stay home. We have gone to football, hockey and basketball games. I know it seems like it is just more running, but if you think about doing something you enjoy, it's not running- it's fun. Just as important, it takes my mind off my sadness. I wish Tom were at the games with me, but I feel him there. This is something we would've done together - you all know how much he liked sports.

The holidays have been hard. I think about Tom constantly. My emotions change so fast, sometimes I feel like I'm spinning. Many of you have left messages on my answering machine or stopped by the house to find that I'm not home. Every day is busy and now I'm trying to squeeze in holiday shopping. I'm sorry I haven't been around, but thank you for trying.

In August I was at a teacher's workshop . I was wondering why I had agreed to attend this workshop because my brain was not ready for this. I met a woman who told me she was 43 and lost her husband to cancer in January. That's why God sent me to this workshop! She invited me to a widow's group which meets once a month in Minneapolis. This group has been a Godsend (literally). All of our friends, family, church, community, and even strangers have been wonderful through this whole ordeal, but these people have been there. There is something so comforting about talking to someone who is walking in your shoes. You don't have to try to find the words to express your feeelings because they already know. Even though this journey SUCKS, I can see God's hands all around me working to help us through this. I want to thank you all for being God's loving hands in our lives.

Merry Christmas and keep in mind what is really important in life - friends, family and faith!

Love, Jenny

Monday, November 15, 2004 6:29 PM CST

We are feeling a little bit UP these days. Last weekend Mackenzie had the Section Swim Meet in Morris. The team took first for the tenth year in a row. Mackenzie placed third in the 200 yard freestyle, second in the 500 yard freestyle, and her two relays were first! She will be going to State in all four races. We were very proud of her. It was especially difficult because Friday was the five month anniversary of Tom's death. Each month on the 12th is tough. Hopefully, one thing she is learning is how to make it through adversity.
The other kids are hanging in there. Nights are the hardest on all of us. It is difficult to get to sleep, and they often want to talk about Tom. Alexa keeps busy with dance and the play. Connor is enjoying hockey. In fact, tonight he is at the Excel Energy Center playing hockey. I don't remember the exact details, but Hutch Hockey Association was able to get some ice time. So anyone who wanted to could go down there and participate in open skate or pond hockey. However, I am just realizing how involved hockey is. Until now it has just been a couple of practices and a scrimmage a week. I just received the new schedule! Lots of games and tournaments. Fortunately, the parents have been great about helping out with rides. Tori is done with gymnastics and is just interested in playing with friends.
Even with all these fun activities going on, I still find it hard to be UP for very long - especially as we near the holidays. It's hard to imagine these next few weeks without him. It was a year ago tomorrow that we got the call that he had cancer. What a difference a year makes. I'm trying to think of a way to make the holidays different or special - I don't know what. I am finding that I'm not crying as much, but I seem to be sad most of the time. It helps to know that we've made some progress since June, and hopefully next year we can look back and see that we've made even more progress.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support. We coudn't make it without you.
Love, Jenny

Monday, November 1, 2004 9:39 PM CST

We keep plugging along with many ups and downs. This was Tom's favorite time of year - cooler weather, watching football games and Mackenzie's swim meets, coaching Connor's football team, getting pumped for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is so hard for me to enjoy these things without him. Tom and I used to watch the Hutch football games together and talk about the plays. He would be so proud to know that Connor's flag football team was undefeated this year (of course they weren't suppose to keep score, but if you know Connor - he always knows the score!). He would also be proud to know that at the True Team State Swim Meet Mackenzie took three firsts and one third! He would like to see Alexa in the Middle School Musical "Bugsy Malone", and watch Tori at gymnastics. I know he is still watching all of us, but it isn't the same as having him sit right next to me and share our thoughts about our kids and how they are growing up so fast. I want to hold his hand and give him a hug. I want to watch him stuff his face at Thanksgiving and listen to him complain about how much his stomach hurts because he ate too much. I would even love to have an argument with him just to hear his voice. I took so much for granted, and yet if he hadn't died I probably still wouldn't appreciate him as much as I do right now. Even after his cancer, and we realized how special life was and appreciated each other more, life still has a way of robbing that from you with the stresses of everyday life.
There are parts of every day that are good and parts of every day that are bad. Night time is particularly hard on all of us. We let our guards down, and we lay awake thinking about him. And we cry.
These next few weeks will be tough as the kids come to the end of the trimester and Mackenzie comes to the Section and State Swim Meets. We pray for good sleep, good grades, and good times (swimming times!).
Thanks for your prayers and continued support. Many of you have sent e-mails to me, and I love getting them. I wish I had more time to respond to each of them. This website is the best way that I can try to keep up with correspondences with all of you. I have saved your e-mails, and I am hoping that when I get some spare time I can respond individually. Until then this will have to be my means of communication. Thanks again.
Love, Jenny

Tuesday, October 12, 2004 3:06 PM CDT

Today is a hard day. It was four months ago today that Tom died. This morning a couple of Mackenzie's friends brought over flowers for her. She takes each anniversary hard. We know that our sadness changes with time. The more time that passes, the less severe the sadness and the more time between meltdowns. Our schedules are busier than ever. This is probably the busiest time of the entire school year for us. Mackenzie is getting close to the important swim meets. Alexa has dance and confirmation. Connor is finishing football and starting hockey (They overlap for a couple of weeks). Tori is in gymnastics. By the end of November, half of these activities are over! My class is starting to get into the routine of school, so my day is going a little bit better. I'm finally able to see a light at the end of the tunnel in regards to all the business aspects of Tom's death. It will be nice not to start out business conversations with, "I'm calling because my husband died." It is so emotionally draining to deal with the business end of death, in addition to the day-to-day sadness. However, I continue to see God's answers to prayer in the little things: a goodnight sleep, a productive day, business dealings taken care of swiftly, a meal at the end of a hectic day. God is taking care of us. Thanks for your continued support and prayers.
Love, Jenny

Monday, October 4, 2004 3:26 PM CDT

Again I apologize for not writing more often. My computer was finally up and running during Sept. I think about writing a lot, but I don't actually make the time. School,work, activities, and housework are keeping us very busy. We have also had some meltdowns. Some of the kids and I have taken a few days off of school/work. Sometimes the pressure is too great. Mackenzie, Alexa, and I went to Chicago for a weekend to get away. We visited my college friend Ann and my Uncle Andrew's family. It was nice to have some down time to just relax and think. I was having trouble deciding what I was going to do about work. It was too overwhelming at the start of the school year. I have had many of you praying for God to give me an answer, and He has. I decided to take it one day at a time and not take a leave of absence. If I fall apart one day, I will just take that day off. Tomorrow is a new day. Mackenzie has had a hard time too, and that is what she is going to do. It seems as though we are all strugggling. I know we have a lot of support, and there really isn't anything anyone can do about our meltdowns. It's just something we have to work through. We are looking into some counseling. Last weekend we went to Gustavus for homecoming. There was a memorial service for all the people who have died this past year that have a connection to Gustavus. It was nice to see some friends there, watch football, and go out to eat at Whiskey River (where Tom and I met). This is something we did almost every year. It was also difficult because Tom wasn't there. Today feels like a good day. I have gotten a lot accomplished (still working on business papers and phone calls). Hopefully, we'll all start having more good days than bad. The prayers help, so keep them coming.
Love, Jenny

Monday, August 30, 2004 4:02 PM CDT

I haven't written for a long time for two reasons. One - I have been very busy. Two - My computer has been unworkable for most of the month of Aug. In fact, I am writing from my school computer right now. Hopefully, I can get my home computer working soon. I don't have much time to write today because I have to get my room and schedule ready for Wed, (the first day of school). I would like to ask for continued prayers because the kids and I are very stressed and down right now due to the beginning of the school year. I know many of you think and pray for us often. Thank you. Please keep it strong! I'll try to write soon.
Love, Jenny

Friday, July 30, 2004 8:04 PM CDT

I'm sorry it has been so long since I have written, but I have been so busy. I thought things would have slowed down by now. I think the whole robbery thing kept the activity level high. There is no news about the robbery. The police are still working on it. People have been wonderful. The Lamplighter (a local restaurant) also held a benefit for us by donating 10% of their sales and 10% of the tips one day. People we don't even know have sent donations. We have been blessed.
I have been down lately. Last Tuesday was our anniversary. The kids and I joined my mom and two of my brothers at Valleyfair for the day. Tom loved going on rides, and I didn't want to be home and sad. We had a good day. The weather was perfect. That night laying in bed was hard. Nights are always hard. Ever since then I've been more emotional. It used to comfort me to know that he wasn't in pain anymore, he was in Heaven, and he was our guardian angel. Even though I know those things, it doesn't help me anymore because I just want him back. Also, even though I have a great support system and lots of friends, there is no relationship that equals that of the one you have with your spouse. Your spouse knows you better than anyone else. You can say things to them that you can't say to anyone else. I miss that. Tom and I were together for almost 22 years. I will never have that kind of history (college memories, wedding, children, jobs, etc.)with anyone else. There are little things all over the place that remind me of him. Some things make me laugh, but mostly they make me cry. Yes, I will laugh again, but I'll never laugh the way he made me laugh. Oh, how Tom could make us laugh. I know I will get through these down times, but they will also come again - fewer and farther between. The kids don't allow me to stay down for too long.
The kids are doing well. We talk about Tom a lot. Sometimes happy thoughts and sometimes sad. They continue to journal at night about their memories of him. Just when they think they don't have a memory, something happens to give them one.
Mackenzie just returned from a 10 day mission trip to Mexico with our church. She's not sure she wants to do another one after no showers for days and temps over 100. I won't ask her until next year. Alexa is performing in "Footloose" this weekend. She doesn't want it to end because she loves the cast. Connor doesn't have much down time between all the Twins games, campouts, lake outings etc. He is done with all his sports. Tori is gearing up for her 8th birthday. She starts telling us what she wants for her next birthday as soon as her current birthday is over.
Those of you going to the Gustavus Football golf outing please have some laughs about Tom. I know he would have laughs about you! I wish I could be a little mouse in the corner and hear all your stories. I'm sure you are all glad that I'm not!
I wish I could say that I will update this more frequently, but I can't promise anything. As I look at the calendar, we still have a pretty full summer. We appreciate all of you keeping us active and involved. Thanks for everything!
Love, Jenny and kids

Thursday, July 8, 2004 11:40 PM CDT

The benefit went well last night. They served around 750 people. It was good to visit with so many people. Unfortunately, something bad happened during the benefit. Someone broke into the church safe and robbed the church. Some of the money in the safe was our benefit money that was put in there because the cash box was full. Some money was offering that hadn't been deposited and some was memorial money for someone else. If any of you gave money before the benefit started your cash/checks are definitely gone. If you wrote checks, you need to contact the church (320-587-2093) or cancel your checks at your local bank. Our pastor said if you tell them you are cancelling your check because of a robbery, they don't charge you to cancel them.
It is sad that something that was so kind is now marred by something bad. We still have some money - all the silent auction money, bake sale money and some of the supper money. I told the kids that I hope the person who stole it needed it more than we did, and whatever money we receive is more than what we had before.
Other than that, I am feeling better. After my weekend of tears, I am feeling a bit stronger. Sometimes it helps to just let it all out. Yesterday was hard because I was so moved by the generosity of others. Today I only cried twice! I know it will be a roller coaster ride, but I am thankful for all the people God is putting around us to help us through this.
Chuck Day let me know there have been many visitors to the new web page (http://kernsws.home.comcast.net). He put some nice pictures of Connor's baseball game on there. My dad put a picture of Connor and some of the fish he caught at my parents' house on this website (caringbridge). Thank you to both of you.
The kids are doing well. They are talking more about their thoughts and feelings. We sit up at night sometimes and talk about Tom. We say things like, "If Dad were here he would say ...." It helps them know it is ok to talk about him.
They are keeping active. This Sat. Connor will swim in his first swim meet here in Hutchinson. He asked to be in it, and he is very excited. (And to think that at the beginning of the season he didn't even want to be in the swim club!) Then on Sun. night he has a baseball game. Mackenzie is spending the weekend with my brother Ben. He is taking her to the Basillica (sp?) Block Party! I've already given him strict instructions, and he better follow them! Alexa and Tori are just hanging around here for the weekend. Alexa keeps busy with play practice every night. "Footloose" is July 29-Aug. 1. Tori keeps busy by playing with friends.
Well, it's late so I'm going to bed. Thanks again for your love and support.
Love, Jenny

Saturday, July 3, 2004 4:56 PM CDT

It hurts so much. All I want is for Tom to hug me. For two weeks my head knew he was gone, but this week my heart and body began to feel it. Each day it hurts more and more. I know this is part of the healing, but I want it to stop. The kids activities help take my mind off of it for a while. I'm glad the kids are talking about Tom's death more. I was worried that they were keeping a lot of emotions bottled up inside. I'm thankful for the memories some of you are sending me. It helps me to laugh at things Tom said and did. I miss his humor.
Today I'm going through the house and organizing the many piles that have accumulated over the past couple of weeks. It's good and hard at the same time.
I'm so thankful that God has surrounded us with so many good family and friends. We will continue to rely on you in the difficult days to come. You each have so many different, wonderful gifts that help us in many ways.
I think I will end the caring bridge web site in about a week. Chuck Day has created a web page for Tom, so I can continue updating for anyone who is interested. He said he has already put some pictures on there. Here is the address: http://kernsws.home.comcast.net
Thanks for your concern and support.
Love, Jenny

Saturday, June 26, 2004 7:30 PM CDT

Life continues to move forward whether we are ready or not. Again, God's timing is perfect. The week Tom was in the hospital and the week of the funeral the kids hardly had any activities. This week our schedule was packed. It was a good thing because it kept me from being sad all the time. Mackenzie is still involved with swimming. Alexa is in "Footloose" this summer. Connor is doing football camp, swim club, and baseball. Tori is in swimming lessons and bible school.
We are continually amazed at the generosity of our family, friends, and community. People are always checking to make sure we are being taken care of. I know many of you were here for the visitation/funeral, but if you are interested in seeing us again, please call and stop by. We would love to see you.
Thank you for sharing your memories of Tom. I know some of you are not ready to do that yet. When you are ready, I would like you to either put them on this website, e-mail me at tjkern@hutchtel.net, or send them to Sue Severin (20213 150th St., Hutchinson, MN 55350). Sue is going to compile the stories and make books for the kids and me.
I'm not much of a computer guru, so I am going to see if someone can help me put a couple pictures on this website. I should have done that earlier, but I just didn't have the time.
Day by day, we are surviving. God gives us strength or shoulders to cry on. Keep in touch.
Love, Jenny

Saturday, June 19, 2004 5:45 PM CDT

I can't begin to tell you how much it meant to us to feel the outpouring of love through your presence at Tom's visitation/funeral or cards sent to us. We couldn't believe how many people care about and support our family. I am only sorry I didn't get to visit with more of you at the visitation and funeral. Last night when I looked at the guest book I couldn't believe how many people I didn't even know where there, let alone get a chance to visit with. We will never get tired of the hugs or of people telling us what a great guy Tom was. I know some of you have shared memories already of Tom on this website, but I will take as many as you can write. The memories are what keep us going.
The kids and I have started writing in journals every time we have a memory of Tom so we will never forget. Today Tori said she didn't have any memories of Tom. Then a few minutes later, she was telling a visitor that her dad used to say, "Ooo, Ooo," whenever he pinched her butt. I told her to write it down right away, so when she is 20 years old she can look back and remember all those things about her dad.
My heart breaks for my kids because of all the things Tom won't physically be a part of. On my picture board there is a picture of Connor playing baseball,and Tom is standing right behind him. I told Connor that Dad will always be right behind him watching everything he does.
The years ahead are going to be very tough for us without Tom. I know you have all said you would be there for us, and I know you will be. I don't want to see this website end because it means so much to us to read the words of support and your memories of Tom. I will keep writing for a while, but I know we will all go back to our daily lives and get busy with other things. I just want you to remember what Tom's brother Mike said at the luncheon after the funeral. What was important to Tom(and should be important to us all) was family, friends, and faith.
Thanks and Love, Jenny and kids

Monday, June 14, 2004 10:16 PM CDT

Below is the information about the Funeral Services for Tom Kern:

Visitation is on Thursday June 17th from 5 to 8:00pm at the Dobratz-Hantge Funeral Chapel at:
899 HWY 15 S.
Hutchinson, MN 55350

Visitation is also Friday morning from 8 to 9:00am at the Funeral Home and again from 10 to 11:00am at:
Christ the King Lutheran Church
1040 S Grade Rd
Hutchinson, MN

The Funeral Service will follow at the Church starting at 11:00am.

Please direct Memorial gifts to:
First Minnesota Bank, N.A.
Attn : Becky
308 Main St S
Hutchinson, MN 55350
Please make checks payable to "Tom Kern's Caring Account"

Sunday, June 13, 2004 4:50 PM CDT

Sunday, June 13, 2004 8:33 AM CDT

I can't even believe I have to write these words. Tom died at 9:15 pm yesterday. It hurts so much. The kids and I were surrounded by Tom's mom, his brothers, and some friends who came to visit. His breathing had been shallow and intermitten during the day. At the end, he just took a deep breath and was gone.
We are so blessed to have all of you there for us and praying for us. We will continue to need you for a long time. Our kids will need to hear stories about their dad from all of you who knew him. The hospital staff told us they couldn't believe the amount of support we were getting. We told them we have a wonderful support system between our family, friends, church, and community. We are blessed to have you all in our lives.
We have not made funeral arrangements yet, but I will continue this website for a while and post the information on here. Thank you all for everything.
Love, Jenny, Tom, Mackenzie, Alexa, Connor, and Tori

Sunday, June 13, 2004 9:33 AM CDT

Tom Kern passed away last night at about 9:15pm. He was surrounded by family and friends who love him dearly. He died peacefully.

Thank you all for the support and prayers.

Arrangements are pending.

Sunday, June 13, 2004 8:33 AM CDT

I can't even believe I have to write these words. Tom died at 9:15 pm yesterday. It hurts so much. The kids and I were surrounded by Tom's mom, his brothers, and some friends who came to visit. His breathing had been shallow and intermitten during the day. At the end, he just took a deep breath and was gone.
We are so blessed to have all of you there for us and praying for us. We will continue to need you for a long time. Our kids will need to hear stories about their dad from all of you who knew him. The hospital staff told us they couldn't believe the amount of support we were getting. We told them we have a wonderful support system between our family, friends, church, and community. We are blessed to have you all in our lives.
We have not made funeral arrangements yet, but I will continue this website for a while and post the information on here. Thank you all for everything.
Love, Jenny, Tom, Mackenzie, Alexa, Connor, and Tori

Friday, June 11, 2004 9:43 PM CDT

Not much is new. He seems to be tolerating the chemo pretty well. His hemoglobin was down yesterday so they gave him two units of blood. Today his temp. went up and down, but he seems to be doing ok now. Yesterday the kids and I went to the hospital to see him. He was coherent for some of the time, which was good for the kids. It was a very difficult day because we explained what was happening to Tom. The kids were understandably very upset. We talked a lot about all the feelings they had. We told them we can't do anything to help Dad except pray. There were a lot of tears last night, but today was better. I told them there will be a roller coaster of emotions for a long time. Thank you all for your words of encouragement and support. We wouldn't be as strong if we didn't have your support. Keep praying for a miracle! We know God can do anything. He has the power.
Love, Jenny (and gang)

Thursday, June 10, 2004 0:05 AM CDT

I wish I could give you all some good news. Unfortunately, I can't. The test results show that Tom is full of cancer. Squamous Cell Carcinoma was found in his heart, lungs, kidney, liver, pancreas, spleen, spine, and hip bones. The doctors are shocked at how quickly this has spread and to the many places it has spread. Because of the morphine, he is not really aware of what is going on and has a difficult time communicating. The doctor's started him on chemo tonight. The chemo is only to give him more time. It will not cure him. We continue to pray for a miracle. I have an image of a knight in shining armour arriving at the last minute to save the day. I pray that this is what God will do. We draw strength from knowing that he is holding all of us in his arms right now; just as a parent holds a child who is hurting. The Footprints poem is so appropriate at this moment. God has richly blessed us with wonderful friends, family, church, and community. Thank you all for being there for us.
Love, Jenny, Tom, Mackenzie, Alexa, Connor, and Tori

Sunday, June 6, 2004 5:38 PM CDT

I can't tell you how uplifting it is to read all the words of support and encouragement. We love you all. Thank you.
I wish I had more to tell you, but the doctors are still running tests. I think we have seen just about every specialist at the U of M. They are not sure if his problems are related to the squamous cell carcinoma in his mouth/neck or not. There is a possiblity that there is an infection. That is why they are running all the tests. About 30 doctors with different specialties are having a "tumor conference" on Wed. and have asked if they can bring Tom's case to their conference. We said yes. I told Tom he is doing all this to get into some record book as the guy with the most baffling case. The staff has been wonderful, helpful, and very informative. After their meeting, they will let us know what their thoughts are on his case.
Our families have been down at the hospital with us throughout the past few days. Thanks, Chuck and Deb for all the meals you've brought to the hospital. Thank you all for the help you've given and have offered to give. We really appreciate it.
Love, Jenny, Tom, Mackenzie, Alexa, Connor and Tori

Friday, June 4, 2004 1:10 PM CDT

Last night Tom had a temp. of 102.7, so his mom and I took him to ER. After running tests, they decided to send him to the University of Minnesota Hospital. His fever is down, and he is on IV antibiotics. They are running more tests to determine what to do with the abcess on his neck and if he has pneumonia. After getting things organized at home for my mom to watch the kids, I am going to Minneapolis to be with Tom, his mom, and his brothers (Mike and John). We will have to wait to decide what we are going to do about his diagnostic appointments at Mayo on Monday and Tuesday.
Thank you all for your words of encouragement, thoughts, and prayers. We need and appreciate them.
Love, Jenny

Friday, June 4, 2004 1:10 PM CDT

Friday, May 28, 2004 4:25 PM CDT

As some of you know,Tom has gone from bad to worse. I will try to give you a quick recap of the last 6 months. Tom was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in Nov. 2003. The cancer was in his mouth. He got the cancer from chewing tobacco. He had surgery on Nov. 28, and they felt they got all the cancer they could find. Unfortunately, it had already gone into a lymph node and along a nerve. They described the cancer as aggressive and invasive. From Jan 5 - Feb 17, he went through radiation therapy. He had a lot of ups and downs until May 1. During this month, he has had an MRI, CT scan, biopsies and seen many different specialists.
On Wed. we found out the cancer is back and is in an advanced stage. Because of the pressure of the tumor, his ear, eyes, and throat are being affected. His right eye is completely closed, dialated, and cannot move in any direction (he can see, but it's blurry). His left eye can move in all directions except left, so he has double vision. He is having a tube put in the right ear next week to alleviate some pain, pressure, and fluid. His mouth only opens about a half inch. He takes liquids through a syringe because it is difficult to swallow. The cancer has eaten away some tissue in his mouth behind his right teeth and the roof of his mouth so that some liquids go up into his nose. He currently weighs 146 lbs. A food tube was put in his stomach yesterday, so hopefully that will help him to gain some weight.
We met with the oncologist in Hutchinson today. Tom will need to have chemotherapy. The oncologist is checking to see if Mayo provides a different kind of treatment than he can get here. If the treatment is the same, he will stay here. If not, he will go to Mayo. We want to get started immediately, but we are still waiting to here.
Thank you all for your wonderful support! I don't know what we would do without our family, friends and community support. Keep praying! Love, Jenny, Tom and kids

Friday, May 28, 2004 11:39 AM CDT

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