Savoring West Texas, now and always


It is with the heaviest of hearts I’ve ever known to write this. This will be my last Savoring West Texas weekly column. And this one isn’t going to be about food.

One week ago today at 1:15 p.m., my beloved partner in everything, my husband Bob, took his final breath and flew into the Great Beyond.

Following his completely unexpected and massive brain bleed on March 13 that required extensive emergency brain surgery and all that goes along with it, his recovery was nothing short of miraculous. We were gifted 33 of the most excruciatingly beautiful days and nights together in his healing.

We were planning trips to hot springs for healing soaks as soon as we could get his amazingly low blood pressure high enough to withstand a mineral spring of just over 100 degrees.

We said the important things that often go unsaid when you get too comfortable with your loved ones, because we both knew that we almost forever lost the chance to say it face to face.

We laughed. We cried. We argued. We loved. We were filled with hope for our dynamic life to get back on track.

His brain, having sustained the blood damage on the right side, which affected his body’s left side, was busy trying to rewire thoughts the entire time. The left side of his brain held his logic and long-term memory, and thankfully only a little short-term memory of the “right here, right now” right side of his brain was affected negatively.

Being a left-handed master woodworker, master craftsman, master artisan, master of everything he attempted and having a “dead” left hand was extremely difficult for him. But we were on the road to recovery, with lots of therapy that was progressing in a manner nothing short of a miracle.

We talked about trips we’d taken, things we’d done together, how we first met… and he remembered everything perfectly clear. And then he would ask me what day it was, 20 times a day, or ask me if it was day or night. Bless my dearest man’s heart.

He was awake and in need of something every hour on the hour, like clockwork, day or night. As his primary caregiver, I am still trying to recover from the physical exhaustion with mental and emotional exhaustion making it a little tougher.

Tuesday, May 18, just after midnight, he got up to go to the bathroom and his foot dragged and he stumbled into the bathroom. He blamed his slippers, saying they weren’t gripping the floor anymore. I checked, and they were fine.

I got him back into bed, perplexed and not even thinking that another stroke was happening to my man who’d just earlier that day had a terrific physical and occupational therapy day at Big Bend Regional’s Outpatient Therapy, and was looking forward to starting a new martial arts regimen.

One hour later, the stroke went full-blast and the last coherent words he spoke to me were, “I’m going to heaven.”

I believe he did go to heaven shortly after he declared he was, but his body took another trip to University Medical Center in El Paso and was fighting to live (his heart and lungs were extremely strong), even with a brain so filled with blood and damaged beyond any hope of repair, for another 36 hours before finally surrendering the fight.

In life, my husband was a true badass who fought hard and always won. He never surrendered and always won. At having just turned 66, he appeared on the outside to be in his 50s. The body is an amazing machine.

As y’all can imagine, I am heartsick to say the least, shattered into a bazillion shards inside and have no desire to eat, much less write about food. My partner-in-food and often my inspiration, is now gone.

The Window Trail, Big Bend National Park.

I am surviving these days on protein shakes when I can choke them down, a little soup, half a sandwich here and there, and fruit when I can handle it. I’m trying to eat, but nothing sounds or tastes good.

What kind of food writer have I become? The kind that knows when to step down and allow another with a zest for food the opportunity to share their fresh point of view and knowledge.

I now need healing for my heart and soul.

We have spent just under 270 weeks together here on the pages of the Alpine Avalanche. Just under 270 weekly musings that hopefully have entertained more than just me. Can that be possible?

I am so grateful for your readership, your emails and cards and letters, and the friendships Bob and I made through Savoring West Texas.

Thank you all, and I will see y’all around town sometime soon.

With much love,

Krysta Johns

Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park.
At the Top of Paradise Mountain in Jeff Davis County.
The day we decided that Fort Davis was the place for us. I can see those mountains from our commercial property downtown, and from the front porch of our home in the shadow of Sleeping Lion Mountain.

7 thoughts on “Savoring West Texas, now and always

  1. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. I can’t even imagine what you’ve been through. Virtual hugs from Marfa. Darlene


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I thought I’d never have to say this Krysta, but I am so very sorry for your loss. There are no words that can possibly make you feel any better, but God Bless and prayers, hugs and love to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Krista,
    Today, I just found your food blog because I was looking for Prickly Pear information. Then I read your last post…..Bob’s Love continues to enfold you. There are no words, only deep feelings. God Bless you and keep you forever.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Joy,
      Thank you so much for your sweet words. What I didn’t realize when I was stuck in the mire of it all was that our marriage was tumultuous at best – and I did everything I vowed to do and learned so very much from Bob. As a reward, God has blessed me with the truest love of my life showing up when I was busy planning a lonely life… our similarities were uncanny and I could gush on and on… I am blessed with the happiest life and a marriage that was divinely arranged ♥️

      I haven’t touched this blog in over a year and my life has taken amazing turn, filled with more love than I’ve ever known ♥️

      Thank you again for reaching out.

      God bless you,
      Krysta Koetting


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