I had told myself… and I guess the digital world… that I wanted to take these next two weeks (the last two of the first year without Kateri) to mourn the loss of my wife. The other day, at the end of a conversation with a friend, he asked me, “What does that mean to you?”…. and I realized… I have no fucking idea! But I figure rememberin’ has somethin’ to do with it so that’s what I’m gonna do a little of and see how it goes. I mean… we’ll see… it took me three days, 2 baths, a pint of Ben n Jerry’s, two hours and 23 minutes of Aquaman, and 13 packages of pills (Smarties) to get through 8 photos! (yup, the kind you can hold in your hand)
Yesterday… a year ago… Kateri went into Palliative care after we spent all night in the ER (except for an early morning run home with Maria so we could grab… something?… don’t really remember). I’m not gonna talk about seeing her doc in the morning, before the hospital was humming… when I could see the sorrow in his eyes as he went over options of drilling holes in Kateri’s head to relieve some pressure. I’m not gonna get into how I kicked the wooden box out of frustration because Kateri said, “We… can’t do this anymore.”… a box I walk by every morning and every night… splintered wood that reminds me of the time I wasn’t willing to give up hope… I wasn’t willing to accept it… but my wife… Kateri, couldn’t take the pain any longer. I’m not gonna talk about that because… as awful as those sound… I thought I still had time.
A year ago yesterday, I sat on a couch. Across the room from me was my wife, my best friend, the love of my life… Kateri. It was quiet… calm. Kateri was asleep… well, drugged… but finally some relief for her. Keith was on one side of me… Michelle on the other. Each with an arm wrapped around my shoulders… a hand on my leg… one on across my chest. I remember them just holding me as I was processing what was going on… while they were processing what was going on… and I just remember saying to Keith… “This is it. We’re here for a reason…. right?… this is it?”… and all he had to say was, “Yes.”
What does “mourning” mean to me? I guess it’s remembering picnics with bologna sandwiches (bologna was not a part of our normal diet) in the back of Cherokees… in the middle of Iowa while a thunderstorm is wreaking havoc across an empty campground. It’s remembering Kateri saying, “Fear the poke!” as she would flex her index finger to show off her second digit muscle. It’s remembering that Kateri was the most loving, thoughtful, honest… sometimes brutally honest, and simply the most beautiful person I have ever been fortunate enough to meet, to be friends with, and to share my life with (of course, she’s basically the only one I’ve shared my life with!). It’s remembering sitting on that couch being comforted by friends I love. It’s remembering walking over to my wife to hold her… crying… knowing she was going to die… knowing… Kateri was going to die… soon. It’s remembering a time… when she was alive.
(before anyone says anything about her always being around, will never truly be gone, she’s in the wind and yada, yada, yada type stuff… I get it… I’m not talking about that stuff)
It’s been nice going through some old pics, but really it’s not the time. It’s hard, but the memories of Palliative Care are really what are consuming my thoughts right now… and I’m OK with that. That’s what was going on a year ago. I feel it’s only natural that they would still be ever present in the ol’ noggin around the first anniversary. And quite frankly, I believe it was probably the most intimate experience Kateri and I had together so I’ll just roll with it. Being with the person you love more than yourself when they are in pain, when they are sick, when they are told there is nothing that can be done to save their life… and them looking to you for comfort… them looking to their husband… looking to the love of their life… well, that’s when life shows you a bit more of what love is.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
- On a happier note… the chickens looked really happy standing on wet, soggy grass. There’s a strip between the coop and the house… which I was excited about… and then the chickens crapped all over it! (At least they looked happy!)
- No… I’m not one of the guys in the first picture, but when Kateri was around 24… ish… she had a deal with one of them to help her become a mom if she was still single and childless by the time she was 40. The day Kateri passed, that guy arrived on the east coast early in the morning… from Alaska. I love that guy… and just realized he’s basically “our” oldest friend. The three of us met in Wyoming… 1998. He was there at the very beginning of mine and Kateri’s relationship… and standing with me hours after she took her last breath… he was there with us at the very end. The memories I have that involve this man mean the world to me… and I’m glad he didn’t impregnate my wife!