Working through the sadness

August 16, 2009 20:51 – 20:51

Well, we survived. But, going through Katie’s stuff was as hard as I imagined it would be. However, it was eased by having six of Katie’s wonderful friends there to help. One of the saddest moments for me was seeing Katie’s bear, whom we named Big Brown. The bear was a gift—I believe from Jan or Greg—that we received before Katie was born. From the time Katie was born until she was about a year old, Big Brown was bigger than Katie. Eventually, she caught up, of course. But, the sight of the bear was very painful for Karen and me.

Big Brown was the recipient of some of Katie’s earliest and most intense hugs. So, anyone who ever received a hug from Katie can thank Big Brown in part, who was the perfect hugging foil in the early days when Katie was cultivating the art of hugging. She eventually grew to be one of the greatest huggers on the planet, if not the greatest. Big Brown is in the car, waiting for the long ride back to Virginia tomorrow.

Going through Katie’s books and papers was quite difficult, too. Although, many of them were from courses that were beyond Karen’s and my mathematical and statistical training. Seeing her cap and gown from graduation was tough, as was packing up her college diploma.

I still have the irrational thought that Katie will come back for all of this stuff at some point. You know, how when the game’s over, all of the players “killed” in the game come back to life? Or, how at the end of a movie, nobody’s really dead, and the actors go on to other roles, or they come back to life in the “extras” section at the end of the DVD?

I said it was irrational.

Katie’s friends did most of the going-through-clothes. Still, it was especially wrenching seeing Katie’s favorite sweatshirts, a pair of pants into which she had sewn decorative panels to create flares, skirts she loved, t-shirts that were acquired though school, church, karate, and girl scouts. Some of them, she helped design. One, she carefully ushered through the production process, taking the artwork to the t-shirt store, previewing and approving the “draft,” and then finally picking up the finished pieces of art.

We finished at about 3:30. We offered to treat them all to cheap tacos at Anna’s Taquería in Brookline, and we all agreed to meet at 6:30. After lots of good cheap food and wonderful conversation that spanned everything from Katie to John Stuart Mill, we finally parted company at about 8 pm, amid many warm hugs.

We’ll see them all again in September. By then, Heather’s neck and vertebrae will have healed—I hope. My ribs will have healed. Liz’s plane-contracted virus will be gone, and summer’s heat will have finally broken. But, Katie will still be gone. And, so, we will gather at Arlington Street Church for a memorial service. I don’t know if the pain will have lessened more by then, or if the irrational thoughts that it’s all a very horrible nightmare will have been replaced by a sober realization that the nightmare has been real.

Tomorrow, Karen & I will pack up the car and drive back to Virginia. I have a book outline to mark up for Wiley for the Word 2010 Bible, and Karen will go back to work on Tuesday. But, we are not the same. Every day without Katie makes us poorer, but at the same time richer for having had her in our lives for 21 short years. So, when you ask how we’re doing, we might say “Getting there.” But, since we’re UUs, you have to realize that “getting there” is a permanent state for UUs. We are always in motion. We never arrive. We merely transition as we proceed in our journeys. We’ll get there, even though “there” is always the next stage in the journey. As the song says:

We are going, heaven knows where we are going, but we know within.
And we will get there, heaven knows how we will get there, but we know we will.
It will be hard, we know, and the road will be muddy and rough, but we’ll get there, heaven knows how we will get there, but know we will.

All of which really means, “Getting there.”

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