Fragments of a short life, well-lived

August 13, 2009 20:32 – 20:32

Dan Concannon packed up the stuff from Katie’s car and shipped it to us. It arrived about two weeks ago, but we didn’t work up the fortitude to open the boxes until tonight. As expected, there was lots of clothing—most of which we will donate to UCM. Some special items, however, we’re keeping to offer to some of Katie’s friends.

Saddest for me was going through the books and papers—mementos of her cross-country trip and her time at General Assembly. Bumper stickers. Buttons. A pin or two. A parking ticket from SLC (which she’d apparently decided to contest). Books about UUism, theology, and other signs that she was heading into ministry.

All signs of a life in motion. A life with plans. A life that planned to go on and on until long after Karen and I were long gone, and Katie was surrounded by children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Not so much as a hint that she knew she was about to come head to head with the Grim Reaper. Nothing so much as an inkling that all of her plans were about to come to a brutal and terrible end.

As we went through her things, bagging up items to donate to UCM’s Back Porch, I had this irrational sense that we were violating her privacy and her property. “What if she comes back for this stuff?” I wondered irrationally to myself.

But, this is not a soap opera. This is not an episode of Dallas. This is not a dream from which Pamela Ewing will awaken and discover that Katie is in the shower, and that she dreamed the entire summer.

This is not Pam’s dream. This is our own living nightmare. And, this weekend, we get to go to Boston, and do it all again, only on a larger scale. Instead of two boxes (one large and one smaller), Katie has two apartments in Boston—one that she was renting, the other that she was subletting. One with a lot of her stuff in it, another with less stuff. Like the two boxes. Her friend Jacob is moving back into his apartment on the 22nd, so we need to take care of it so he can move back in.

Fortunately, some of Katie’s friends have offered to help us. That will make the tasks go more quickly, and I think that it will take some of the pain out of it for us. Grief shared is grief lightened, I’ve heard.

Today, we received a condolence card from someone in Louisiana. It’s someone whom neither we nor Katie knew. Yet, he learned of this special young woman through the UU grapevine, and he felt compelled to tell us that as a UU, he shared our loss.

Every day, we thank Katie for asking us about church and religion about 15 years ago. It was because of Katie that we discovered this wonderful faith tradition called Unitarian Universalism. It was because of Katie that we have a huge extended family of people who have been caring for us, sharing our grief, and helping to keep Katie’s young ministry alive. So, thanks, Katie. If there’s a heaven, I’m sure we’ll see you there. If there’s a heaven, I’m pretty sure you’re using your Secret Worshipper discoveries, and are busy making sure that newcomers feel welcome, comfortable, and at home. And, you’re probably baking cookies for them.

I love you Katie. I miss you so much.

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