Photos by J. Alan Paul Photography
By Kylee Seifert
In less than a year, the Januszewski family experienced a loss they never expected and had to deal with a large spectrum of emotions that in the end brought them even closer than they could have ever imagined possible. They shared their story of strength, grief, inspiration, love and how they remember the courage and bravery their mom/wife, Judy, possessed throughout the tragedy.
Everything in their lives seemed perfect. Bill, Judy, Angie, Amy and Eric had a strong, loving and healthy family. However, on May 25, 2011, they were given news that shattered everything. The mother, the heart and soul of their family was diagnosed with cancer. It didn’t make sense to them. How could a strong, physically fit, active woman who didn’t drink, smoke or eat unhealthy be diagnosed with the dreaded monster; cancer?
In the early months of her diagnosis, the family would venture to the Mayo clinic together, the kids would come home on weekends to be with the Judy and Bill and they constantly kept tabs on the latest news with mom’s health. On January 6, they found out the devastating news that there was nothing more the doctors could do to help Judy as they were unable to specifically diagnose what type of cancer she had. Without hesitation, the kids (along with Angie’s kids) all took a leave of absence from their jobs and moved home to be with mom and grandma. During this short time home, the kids recalled moments of joy, sadness, tears, prayers and many memories they will never forget.
While everyone who knew Judy wondered why this would happen to someone like her, she would always say, “why not me?” Middle daughter, Amy, recalled her mom’s answer when her father asked what she wanted for their 29th wedding anniversary, which they celebrated just shortly before her passing. Her response was, “You have given me everything that I could ever want, how could I ask for anything else. I have the most blessed life. I have a wonderful husband, amazing children and grandchildren, great friends, job, house. Maybe that’s why my time is up. I don’t need anything else.”
After Judy’s passing in April, 2012, Bill and the kids started running to deal with the emotions and relieve the stress of their loss. “She wants us to move on with our lives and be happy and healthy,” explained Amy. This led the family to participate in the Fargo 10K and half last year, in remembrance of Judy and to celebrate the amazing life she lived. They had matching “Team Judy” T-shirts, shoes and bracelets made to wear for their races. This year, they plan to walk/run the 10K and Eric will be running the full marathon in hopes to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
This past March, the family ventured to Hawaii to celebrate Bill and Judy’s 30th wedding anniversary. While life will never be the same without their wonderful mother, wife and grandma, they still keep the importance of family as a number one priority and try to approach everything in life with the same love and care Judy instilled in them growing up.
Pull quote: “Mom’s wishes were to be kind to others, never have regrets, don’t sweat the small stuff, celebrate life, be there for each other, do the little things that make a big difference, always love one another,” said Angie Januszewski the oldest daughter.