Beth’s Final Journey: One Year Later

by on ‎10-30-2016 08:00 AM



A year ago, on October 30, 2015 we said goodbye to my wife and best friend; our children’s mom and our grandsons’ “Gam.”  Elizabeth Ann Wheeler had battled cancer for over three years and the final round of chemo basically destroyed her bone marrow.  She made the decision to stop all treatment on Oct. 21st and passed into eternity nine days later.




On November 3rd we celebrated Beth’s life at the church we attended with our family for twenty-four years.  The service was streamed on the internet and was seen by thousands of people.  My brother-in-law, Ronn, delivered a wonderful eulogy that day.  I heard from hundreds of people over the next few weeks who said they were impacted by the service and by the kind of person Beth was.  I affectionately called her “Cakies” and the pain of losing her was so intense that there were days that I didn’t want to get out of bed.  My family and I went through the year of “firsts” without her.   Those of you who have lost loved ones know exactly how difficult that first year is.

The first Thanksgiving was almost unbearable as there was an empty seat at the dinner table.  Our wedding anniversary was a month later.  I didn’t want stay around the house so my daughters, son-in-law, grandsons and I went to New York City to see the Lion King and the sights of Christmas in the big city. 




Christmas was almost unbearable.  I didn’t want to put up a tree or hear Christmas carols but my daughters wanted to continue all of our family traditions so we pushed through.  


Since we were never big New Year’s Eve people I didn’t mind working on New Year’s Weekend.  I remember feeling like I couldn’t wait until the holidays were over. 


February 3rd would have been Beth’s 62nd birthday.  My family and I went to her favorite breakfast spot and we all ordered what she always ordered.  We then tried to let off purple helium balloons (her favorite color) with messages we wrote to her.  It was rainy and icy that day so our balloons didn’t make it too far but I am sure Beth appreciated our efforts.  She probably had a good laugh. 




Around this time Kirstyn and Jeff told us that there would be a new baby in our family sometime in the fall.  That was truly wonderful news.  I think we all started thinking that it would be amazing if Kirstyn had a little girl that she could name after Beth.  Jeff and Kirstyn decided they wouldn’t find out the sex of the baby until the birth. 


The promise of new life helped us face our first spring without her.  We decided to escape Pennsylvania in early March so we went to Captiva Island and stayed at the South Sea Island Resort.  The warmth of the southern Florida sun was cathartic.  The first night in Florida Gavin looked up at the stars and said, “Hi Gam!  I love you!”  It really did “feel” like Beth was with us.




And so the first year marched on.  I marked the beginning of spring by planting a willow tree in her memory.  As summer approached my pain became a little more bearable and I felt a little lighter.




We had some good family “get togethers” at my house.  In late July, Jeff and Cole took a trip to Alaska to visit Jeff’s brother, sister-in-law and their new baby.  Kirstyn stayed home with Gavin as she was moving into the final seven weeks of her pregnancy so Kelsey and I joined her and Gavin, for a weekend get-away to Ocean City, New Jersey.  We stayed at the historic Flanders Hotel right next to the boardwalk.  We had a great time enjoying the beach by day and the boardwalk by night.  Gavin loved going on the rides at the amusement park and we enjoyed all the sights and sounds of summer on the boardwalk. We had a good time but Beth was on our minds.  Vacations without her are not the same.  She was the glue and her absence was and still is profoundly felt. 




By late summer, we began to smile and even laugh at times when we talked about her.   We realized early on that she would want us to carry on and enjoy life when she was gone.  But that is easier said than done when you love somebody as much as we all loved and still love Beth.


As we moved into August we started anticipating the birth of Kirstyn’s third child.  From the moment Kirstyn told us she was pregnant we all secretly hoped for a baby girl. While we all said that we would be happy as long as the baby was healthy we all secretly wanted a girl thinking it would be so nice to have a little girl that could be named after Beth. 

The morning of September 21st I woke up to a text from Kirstyn saying that she might have the baby that night or the next day because she was having strong contractions the night before.  I only had two meetings that day on my calendar and Kelsey had a light day at work.  That afternoon Kirstyn texted me that she and Jeff were on their way to the hospital but told me not to rush because it would probably be a long process.  I looked at my phone and saw that it was September 21st.  I thought to myself, “This would be amazing if the baby were born tonight!”  Beth and I met in late September of 1978 on a train going to Chicago.  When the song ”September” came out by Earth, Wind and Fire it was our favorite song and since the first line of the song says,  “Do you remember, the 21st night of September?”  we always used September 21st as the official beginning of our relationship. 


After Kirstyn’s baby was born she sent Cole out into the waiting room.  He had a blue stocking cap that said, “Little Brother” and a pink stocking cap that said, “Little Sister” under his shirt.  When he pulled out that pink stocking cap my eyes became fountains.  I cried tears of joy and gratitude!  I knew that Beth and the Lord had orchestrated it more perfectly than the script to a movie.  Brooke Elizabeth was born into our family on the 21st night of September, 2016 at 8:07p.m.  Brooke is Kirstyn’s middle name and Elizabeth is in honor of Beth.




This little baby has brought joy and laughter back into our family.  She is the perfect gift from God reminding us that through all of the difficulties and the pain of these past four years He is still with us and still loves us.  Kirstyn’s family is complete and our hearts are full.  And I truly believe that Beth held that little baby first in heaven. 




Thank you to all of you who have written me and supported me and my family.  We have been comforted and strengthened by your outpouring of love.  A year later we are moving forward in Beth’s love and in her memory.  And you can bet that Papa is wrapped around Brooke Elizabeth’s tiny little finger.


God bless you all!

Dan W.

‎10-30-2016 08:11 AM - edited ‎10-30-2016 08:12 AM

WONDERFUL!!!!!  I am speechless after reading this.


G-D Bless You.

on ‎10-30-2016 08:19 AM

Beautiful memories filled with lots of love.


on ‎10-30-2016 08:20 AM

What a lovely entry.  You are blessed to have had such a wonderful wife.  My hope for you is continued healing and much future happiness and new memories.  

on ‎10-30-2016 08:33 AM
The journey of walking our loved ones HOME is a privilege and a gift and the journey of those of us left here to heal that loss is like no other. Yes, our loved ones and God want us to continue to live a joy filled life. It takes time to start feeling life in us again. Prayers for you Dan and your family as you continue to heal the loss of your beloved Beth.
on ‎10-30-2016 08:36 AM

Dear Dan, 

thank you for sharing your thoughts . So many of us can relate and it helps to hear about your journey. It's all about love....and you remind us of

 that ❤️   So well.

   Peace and love to you from Michigan. 💕

on ‎10-30-2016 08:43 AM
What a beautiful tribute to Beth! I've read everything you've written/posted throughout this past year - thank you for sharing such deep thoughts and feelings with us. Beth was/is such an amazing person, her love certainly shines through you! Thank you again for sharing. GOD bless!
on ‎10-30-2016 08:46 AM

Thanks, Dan, for your beautiful, heartfelt blog.  I lost my husband to cancer 3 months ago and your blog and

daily messages give me hope.  May God continue to bless you and your family.   

on ‎10-30-2016 08:47 AM
This was so touching and beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. God bless you and your beautiful family. I know Beth is always with you. Brooke Elizabeth is a beautiful gift from God and Beth.
on ‎10-30-2016 08:54 AM
What a lovely tribute, very touching. You and your family are blessed to have each other. Beth lives on in each of you. Thank you for your daily messages. God bless you and your family.
on ‎10-30-2016 09:14 AM

Brooke Elizabeth is a beautiful precious baby.

on ‎10-30-2016 09:17 AM

Hello Dan and Family.., What a wonderful tribute to your beloved Beth and the life and love that you shared. May Good continue to bless you and the Family and give you peace and comfort in knowing that she is with him and watching over you...... ☝💕☝

on ‎10-30-2016 09:27 AM

.   Thank-You Dan for sharing Beth's journey with us!! I too met my husband in  September of 1978.We are about the same age  as you & Beth.I can truly relate to your love story because my husband & I have the same connection!!

    Life is too short . Nobody knows this better than you & your family!! I admire so much the way you have all pulled together to come out the side .Your love & devotion to Beth & eachother is the glue that binds you.Your story has touched my heart in a beautiful way.It gives me hope that love will always triumph over hate!!

   We need more love in the world!! It truly does conguer all!!

on ‎10-30-2016 09:30 AM

I read all your blogs about Beth, I wish you and your family all the best going forward Dan


I love Brooke Elizabeth's little t shirt there, and her smile

on ‎10-30-2016 09:36 AM
Dear Dan,
Thank you for sharing your beautiful words. Your wife Beth sounds like she was a beautiful, amazing woman. I lost my mother a little of two years ago and I have experienced many of the same emotions.

I grew up in and around Ocean City, NJ. I had my wedding reception at Flanders Hotel so your words really resonated with me. I often walk the boardwalk and think about times I spent there with my mother. I am a firm believer that she is still with me just like your Beth is with you.

There is no doubt in my mind your wife Beth watches over all of you. Your granddaughter is a beautiful reminder of His love. May God bless you and your family, now and always.🙏🏻
on ‎10-30-2016 09:40 AM

Dan, what a beautiful story of love and life.  Thank you for sharing your journey. I hope that Brooke Elizabeth continues to be the light of your life!  You have a beautiful family and you will all help each other through the difficult days. I truly admire  your courage throughout.   You are an inspiration to all of us who have faced such a deep loss.  I wish you peace and comfort.   Lauren

‎10-30-2016 09:45 AM - edited ‎10-30-2016 09:46 AM


I have traveled this voyage through your words and emotions. Thank you for caring so much that you have shared your emotions and the beautiful story of your Beth who watches over you and your marvelous and loving family! You have inspired so many people and God bless you and your loved ones..

on ‎10-30-2016 09:52 AM

What a beautiful story. R.I.P

on ‎10-30-2016 09:56 AM
God bless you Dan. When my grandpa passed away in 2012 our whole family was heartbroken. In 2014 I had my daughter which my grandpa predicted when he was in hospice. Keep up the good work. Your Beth would be proud.
on ‎10-30-2016 10:10 AM

No. thank you Dan. I keep alot of those kind of thoughts to myself,in my heart and head. It is so comforting to know  others can express the feelings and moments ,those who lost someone that was the center of their universe share; so adeptly.


on ‎10-30-2016 10:17 AM

Dan and family, I have prayed and followed along with you through your first year.  I believed that prayers would comfort you all and help you through the difficult firsts.  I hold you all very close to my heart and know that He and Beth brought your precious little Brooke Elizabeth to bring joy and laughter to your future years.  Continued blessings to you all.

on ‎10-30-2016 10:18 AM

Please author a book ~ you are a gifted writer : )


Blessings to you and your family ~

on ‎10-30-2016 10:48 AM

Thank you Dan for allowing us to share in this most itimate journey.  Through your words I am able to feel the love that you and your children have for Beth.  I pray that the Lord continues to strenthen you all and the blessings continue from His un dying love.  I pray for His peace to continue to heal your hearts, souls and spirits.  To God be the Glory. <3


on ‎10-30-2016 11:07 AM

dear Dan -  i too accompanied you on this journey of the last few years.  it was poignant to read your review of all of it and i admit to weeping as i relived those last difficult days and your days after Beth left this earth. gosh-darned wonderful to read of the regenerative path, capped by the appearance of Brooke Elizabeth.  i felt you would recover ---  but how nice to know that you have recovered now with a new joy in your heart.  may it continue.  

on ‎10-30-2016 11:13 AM
Absolutely beautiful, Dan. What a testament to your beautiful Beth and the love the two of you shared. Thank you so much for sharing Beth and your journey with all of us. In a world where true and lasting love seems to be scarce, you give all of us out here hope that real men and true, abiding & enduring love still exists. Thank you for hope, inspiration and imparting some your strength to us. Happy Belated Birthday to you, Dan and may God continue to richly bless you and your precious family.
‎10-30-2016 11:27 AM - edited ‎10-30-2016 11:33 AM

What a beautiful story. Thank You for sharing it with us. You've helped me on my journey more than you know with your words and you're attitude toward life.I lost my son in May this year and it's comforting to know that one day I will be able to smile again and enjoy life knowing that's what he would have wanted for me.Thank You for sharing. I send my love to you and your family .But you are right-The first times without them are so hard.


on ‎10-30-2016 11:56 AM
Dearest Dan. As I sit here, tears fill my eyes with both deep sorrow and joy. Your dedication to Beth and love of family and life is so beautiful and overwhelming. I know you will move on in this journey we call life with love, joy, and happiness. With Beth gone, there will always be a piece missing from your heart, but your blessings and love will give you strength as I see it has. xoxo
on ‎10-30-2016 12:09 PM

Our God is so wonderful!  Thanks for sharing your heart and your journey.  Beth will never be forgotten as your memories will sustain you until you meet her again in glory.  Continue to count your blessings.  You are loved.

on ‎10-30-2016 12:11 PM

Good Morning Dan, I read your blog after listening to my favorite church on tv--the Encouraging Word.  It made me cry with the sincerity and beauty of each comment you made.  I have admired you and your family for years and followed your comments about Beth then listened to the service which was truly a blessed time.  Your daughters and grandchildren are beautiful and I am sooo glad you have them as your strength and blessings daily.  Thank you for sharing yourself and your love for our Lord constantly with the daily messages and the faith of you and your buddies.  The Lord uses you sooo much and that is a wonderful thing.  God bless all of you!!

on ‎10-30-2016 12:12 PM

Dan - After watching you all these years I feel like we are old friends and I want to wish you and your family much joy and happiness as life moves forward. You are such a blessed man who has exemplified his love of life through your strength during this time. Much continued love and happiness to you & your family during your healing. My heartfelt thought and prayers continue to be with you - my friend. xoxo

on ‎10-30-2016 12:17 PM

Thank you Dan and your family for sharing this with us.Beth will always be with you. God Bless to you and your family.


on ‎10-30-2016 12:25 PM

God Bless your Family!!!  Beth is smiling from heaven.  Hold on to your loved ones tight and rejoice in the gifts God has given you.  We are praying for you.  

on ‎10-30-2016 12:31 PM
Thank you so much for sharing your journey. Prayers and blessings for you and your beautiful family.🙏🙏💗💗
‎10-30-2016 12:39 PM - edited ‎10-30-2016 12:43 PM

Dan, thank you for taking us along with you amd your family during parts of your journey. I can only imagine your pain, yet reading through your words proves that God truly does work in mysterious ways. You are going to be okay. I have written those words to you almost every time that you posted about your Beth. I can see your progress, and yes, I do believe that you sir are going to be okay. God Bless you, and your family, today, and always. 

on ‎10-30-2016 12:54 PM

Dan how beautiful your granddaughter is, she is so loved you can see it in her eyes and l know she is papa's girl. Enjoy she will grow so fast. Wishing you and your family ❤️ and prayers. 

on ‎10-30-2016 12:55 PM

Bless you and your wonderful family, Dan.  Family is what pulls us through.

on ‎10-30-2016 12:56 PM

May continued blessings be showered on your family. May the angels surround you Dan and give you peace.


on ‎10-30-2016 12:58 PM
Thank you Dan for sharing , what a wonderful tribute . God Bless you and your family .. JoAnn Elisabeth(Fb)
on ‎10-30-2016 12:58 PM

This has touched my heart.  Prayers to you and your family.  ❤️

on ‎10-30-2016 01:07 PM

This was just beautiful Dan.  Blessings to you and your lovely family.

on ‎10-30-2016 01:19 PM
Oh, Dan, your remembrance of your first year without your beloved Beth was so beautiful and moved me to tears. I pray that our loving and compassionate Heavenly Father will continue to bless your lovely family.
on ‎10-30-2016 01:20 PM

God Bless You Dan. What a wonderful tribute to Beth. What a wonderful way for God to bless you and your entire family. I cried from begining of ending. Thank you for sharing your story of loss and brith with all of us!

on ‎10-30-2016 01:20 PM

What beautiful heartfelt memories.   Thank you so much Dan for sharing your pain, sorrow and memories about Beth over this past year. As you've come to know the first year of a loss is absolutely the most difficult.  I hope your pain and that for your family is. Eginning to lighten some.  I truly think Beth had done influence on the birth of your new granddaughter--day and time.  Blessings to you and the entire family. 🙏🙏🙏🙏❤️❤️

on ‎10-30-2016 01:21 PM
Dear Dan… I have never lost a mate, but my mother passed away in March 2014. She and I were so close. There wasn't a day go by that we didn't talk. I remember all those firsts in that first year too. Your article was heart touching. May you continue to grow and find laughter in your soul again overtime . As I have found out, it is those around us that help us through the heart ache, and it does take quite a while to feel happy again… Truly happy.
on ‎10-30-2016 01:25 PM

Well I can barely see to type this after reading your words. Brooke Elizabeth is so beautiful just like your dear wife. Dan, you have been an inspiration to all of us as you have shared your story with us. I know that Beth is on the other side and is so proud of you. Though you are separated now, you will see her again. You and your family have my best wishes.

on ‎10-30-2016 02:03 PM

Tears of sorrow mixed with tears of joy!  May God wrap His comforting arms around you and your family! 

on ‎10-30-2016 02:05 PM
Dan, such a tender and touching tribute to your Beth. I remember last year that when Beth passed away that my husband Roger had passed away just 6 weeks earlier. We were together 45 years. I understand how you feel. You are blessed to have your family by your side. God bless you Dan and love those grand babies a lot!
on ‎10-30-2016 02:08 PM

When we are born into this world, God has a plan for all of us--and we  go thru our lives all the days that he has given us the best we can---I do believe that God sends us a perfect man or women to be with for the rest of our lives here on earth.and we do the  best we can living that life--when one of us is called to heaven and our earthly days are gone-we are then thankful for all the days that we had--I do belive that and know that your Beth had a blessed life with your family and God will tell her  Well done--You and your family will always have memories of joy and she will be in your heart forwever--Sending you Blessings

on ‎10-30-2016 02:10 PM
What a beautiful tribute to your wife, your family and your faith. You have been truly blessed by all three. I have enjoyed each one of your blogs, some with more tears than others, and will continue to do so. As others have mentioned, you are a gifted writer and you should compile your blogs into a book. You inspire me everyday with your thoughts for the day and your strength in the face of pain. Bless you Dan. You are an inspiration to many of us who face trials and sadness in our lives.
on ‎10-30-2016 02:14 PM

Your messages from way back thru Beth's illness thru to today, just so indicate a true strength in the Lord; despite all you have gone thru, it shows...and Praise God, that He brought little Brooke Elizabeth to you all in His own timing.....thank you for sharing the recap of the year....the message is heartfelt and the photos as well...continue to stay strong in the Lord and He will continue to hold you all in His arms as you go on...

Janice Smith

Webster NY

on ‎10-30-2016 02:26 PM

what a beautiful story of family and love. I have tears from the first line. God bless you and your family and that beautiful baby girl that you have all been blessed with. They always say that God works in mysterious ways and your new granddaughter is Beth shining down and letting you all know she is okay  and will always be your Angel from above. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Heart