Mitch’s Story

Site created on December 4, 2019

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Journal entry by Tisha Berens

A few days ago I came across a FB post that impacted me.  Two friends were jogging together. One of the friends had recently lost her husband. The other friend was complaining that her husband wanted chili for supper and it was going to be a lot of work to go to the store, buy the ingredients, and make the chili.

After running a little longer, the first friend quietly said, “Make the chili.”

The second friend realized the message her friend was trying to get across was that at any moment our loved ones could be unexpectedly taken from us. She realized you should take the time to spend with those you love. Go for the walk, watch the football game together, put down the phone...make the chili.

As most of you know, back in June, we received the news that Mitch’s cancer was terminal.  That didn’t stop him from fighting though. In fact, the Friday before he passed and the doctor put him on hospice, he got in the car, held my hand and told me he was going to keep fighting and beat this!  Unfortunately on Sunday he got a bad infection that his compromised system couldn’t fight. What a blessing it was that the prior weekend he was able to see many friends and family and also celebrate his 52nd birthday! His family and I would like to thank everyone for the beautiful cards, well wishes, memorial money and flowers and plants. His service was very moving. If anyone was unable to attend i do have the service on video. A special thanks to Chief Scheibler and the City of Hays police department as well as the over 80 policeman, state troopers, first responders, etc for the incredible display of brotherhood at the funeral and graveside service.

Due to COVID, Mitch wasn’t able to have many visitors in the last few months. Therefore I wanted to share a few things about that time during Mitch’s last days...

On June 17th when we got the news from the doctor, Mitch wanted to take me out to eat so we could make plans for the rest of his life! He said the first thing on his agenda was to fight until the end, the second was to live each day to the fullest. Now for some of you living like you were dying might include lavish trips and seeing things you’ve always wanted to see. But no bucket lists or fancy trips for him. He was a simple man, and Mitch took it to mean making the most of everyday no matter where we were or what we were doing! Nothing fancy, but Mitch just enjoyed life! He had a favorite beer at Trio tap house that I swear they should have named after him! He would regularly order beer and a hot pretzel. One day he was smiling across the table, with radiation burns all over his face, hair falling out, and told me he has never been happier! Other days we would drive around the lake at night with the moon roof open and sing to the car radio, and of course he enjoyed his medium chocolate dipped cone from Dairy Queen about every afternoon! This is what Mitch considered living life to the fullest! And wow, what a blessing that I got to be part of that world with him! 

As his health declined, Mitch continued to wake everyday with the biggest smile. He would hobble to his chair and be out of breath. One day when PT came, she asked him what he wanted to work on that day. He said, whatever I can learn to make Tisha’s life easier taking care of me. This selfless man was the kindest, most gentle spirit and of course still ornery up until his last day. I learned so much from his positive attitude and his trusting in the Lord as he was absolutely at peace and had no fear of dying. Mitch told me once he wishes everyone would be able to live their life through dying eyes and spend every moment living life to the fullest. Mitch loved his friends and family, especially his kids and he spent as much time as possible with them the last few months. My kids and parents too!

Before Mitch passed, we had some very serious conversations about life. His kids and family meant the world to him and he said when he passes he wants me to be close to my kids and family.  So next month my parents and I will be moving back to the Salina area. I will really miss his family and the friendships I’ve made here but I will come back to visit!

 

Only God knows when He will call us home. Grief is an awful thing, however I am reminded of a quote I read that grief is not a sign of weakness, or a lack of faith, but the price of love. Mitch gave me the best year of my life.

              ‘I’d rather have 30 minutes of wonderful, than a lifetime of nothing special.” Shelbie~Steel Magnolias

Appreciate every moment with those you love, wear sunscreen because melanoma kills, and don’t forget to make the chili.

 

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