Wednesday, January 2, 2013

On Steve's passing: He made it work

7:04 a.m. Today's project is to start a whole new phase of life, that of a widow. My husband of 31 years, Steve Kruckenberg, died last night at 8:08 p.m. He went quietly, having decided, due to his unshakable belief that "absent from the body is present with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8), that he would allow no extreme measures to prolong his life. I had made arrangements with Raincross Assisted Living to stay overnight in his room, on the advice of my retired paramedic brother-in-law, that Steve wouldn't last through the night. A bed was already made up for me in the far side of the room. But God called Steve home while I was just getting ready, taking off my jewelry for the night. Heidi and Heather and their husbands came not long after the hospice nurse pronounced Steve dead at 8:18 p.m. and made her call to the coroner and the mortuary I'd selected. She also dressed Steve for the sake of dignity, in a warm outfit I had chosen from his closet.

In the last moments of gathering the belongings I'd been bringing every day for my lengthy stays, I stopped and would go over to Steve, kiss his still-warm face, and just talk a bit to him about my love for him. Then I'd re-cover his face, take some items to the hallway where the kids were waiting, and come back in. I'd uncover his face, finally for the last time, examining it for vestiges of the dear, handsome face I'd known and loved for so long. I told the kids that I didn't really believe their dad was dead; it just couldn't be true. I started crying when I got our youngest son's text for his dad from Matthew 25:

Well done, good and faithful servant. 

I texted back,

Enter into the joy of your Lord.

On my last trip out of the room, I got the details I needed about the removal of Steve's body and thanked the staff members. I can see why family members sit in a room with a departed loved one for a while. It just can't be real, it seems impossible! Juxtaposed with the odd thought that Steve would wake up again, was the certain knowledge that he wouldn't. It's as if the Lord Jesus gave me a peace and closure for the end of this earthly relationship called marriage.

Steve's great regret that he tearfully expressed to me last year was that "everyone has something to do but me.  I just wanted to help people." And indeed he did, for decades. With his God-given talent and ability  to instantly understand machinery, his accuracy in measurement and creativity in problem-solving, Steve not only earned a good living to support us, but volunteered his time to anyone with a need for help. He could make anything work! I remember his hanging a door for the backslidden alcoholic husband of a gal who came to my home Bible study years ago. He shared the Lord with that man for hours as they worked, and a change was wrought in him. Gifted hands, gifted heart. Glory to God!

In the timing and manner of his death, by God's grace, Steve still "made it work." His physical strength caused him to last past Christmas, which blessed us, as we all got the chance to visit with him and pray over him at the skilled nursing facility. He just could not defeat the pneumonia,  nor combat the 102 degree fever that he had. When he failed to swallow even an ice chip in the third evaluation given by a speech therapist, it was time to bring him home to his room at Raincross to spend his last days, however many there would be, on hospice comfort care only.

Steve had many visitors and prayers said over him in the last five days of his life. Just the fact that so many people were off for Christmas vacation was a gift from God, enabling almost all of our children and even our grandsons from San Diego area to be here and say their goodbyes. Our family was able to witness openly as we shared Steve's life story; and the "peace that passes understanding" (Philippians 4:7a), that God was giving us in the midst of this trial of a lifetime. And in the manner of his dying, Steve was a tremendous witness. One night caregiver told me that on Saturday when she came in to check on him, Steve was looking up, and had his arms outstretched to the Lord. "That man is so blessed!" she declared, and was telling everyone in the memory care Connections Village about it.

In Steve's Bible, where I just now turned to the above verse, I saw he had underlined Philippians 4:4-7 in red, and I'll close with the exhortation that if you have not asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, or if you have wandered far from Him, please make a change today. Don't go into 2013 lost and alone. Jesus loves you, and will make a life for you that is like nothing you have ever known, and then will receive you into heaven one day--maybe even today--as He did my Steve last night! 

  Rejoice in the Lord always.Again I will say, rejoice!
  Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which passes all understanding,  will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 


  1. Oh my! That verse that Steve underlined in his Bible will help carry your through.

    I have been a widow and it is a hard road, but may our Lord be with you all the way, as I know He will, in these days of funeral plans and beyond.

    Hugs and prayers,

  2. WOW....really amazing post....keep sharing...

  3. That is the very same verse I posted on your comment on this day. You are a blessed woman but I know Steve would say too that he was a very blessed man. God bless you Dana.

  4. I'm praying for you Sweetie! Thank you for sharing your heart and amazing experience!