Remembering strangers
Joni Wimmer walks along the trails on the northeast side of Lake Wanahoo in Wahoo, Nebraska, on Sept. 7, 2020.

When Joni Wimmer received a phone call in January of 2016 informing her of her son and his fiancé’s car accident, she thought it was a joke. A terrible joke. Her son’s fiancé Jessie had died on impact when a driver ran a red light t-boning the couple at the intersection of highways 92 and 77. Her son, Tanner, died four days in the hospital after Wimmer made the decision to pull the plug. The couple was driving to Lincoln to get more decoration supplies for their upcoming wedding in October.   

Since that phone call, her life has been a series of holding it together and trying to not to lose pieces of her son. Wimmer, retired, spends her days going on walks with her son’s dog Boris along the trails of Lake Wanahoo in Wahoo, Nebraska as well as taking care of her son’s other dog Opie and her two Australian Shepherds. At night, she sleeps at her son’s home in Wahoo.    

At this moment, Wimmer feels trapped, but also knows how hard moving on will be. As much as she wants to avoid losing more and more pieces of her son, she understands the unhealthy attachment to her only son and his former home. 

Music by Bensound

Photos courtesy of Joni Wimmer 

Multimedia by Elsie Stormberg

I am currently a senior journalism major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I am from Omaha, Nebraska and am the oldest of four (yes, I am a great babysitter; no, this is not As much as I complain about it, I love being busy. I love having way too much stuff going on because I thrive in those crazy situations. My mom likes to say I get it from her but I really think it's just because my house was so crazy growing up. I'm used to it.