It’s 7:35 in the morning… I’ve been up for about 47 minutes… and I don’t know what the fuck to say. I do know that the first text of the day came in a bit ago… and I’ve been crying those good ol’ crocodile tears ever since. Although I don’t really care if people see or hear me being emotional, I am sorta glad that I don’t have people walking past my house on their way to work or school hearing me as I sob uncontrollably while making odd noises through my mouth because my nose is so plugged up with snot! Kateri always said, “Trees make better neighbors!”… and right now I’m glad they are the ones right outside my window listening to me cope and come to terms with the fact that I haven’t been able to hear her laugh, hold her hand while walking down the dirt road, or kiss her goodnight… like I did every… single… night. It has been a year since Kateri has not been on this earth. For 365 days I have come home to an empty house filled with memories of a life that life decided to take away from me… from all of us. It hurts. It’s painful. It’s something I don’t want… but it’s what I’ve got… and I’m glad life didn’t take away the memories.
In the winter of 1998/99… December… Wyoming… I watched Kateri walk from The Chalet (female employee housing) down to the lodge, from the window of The Stables (male employee housing). She had on her blue snow pants, her white winter coat with the god awful neon patch work, and her funky hat from Nepal or some place (I should remember where she got it… she told me… it’s just not coming to me!) keeping her head warm. Kateri would sometimes tilt her head as she walked. I found the image to be calming. We didn’t really know each other at the time… we had just met. At the time, there weren’t any romantic inclining’s yet… she was just someone I found to be interesting. She was unique. There was something different about her. Thankfully, we got along and became friends!
Twenty years later, I love the fact that the image of Kateri strolling through the snow is still clear as day in my mind… and that it was just the beginning of her filling my life with friendship, purpose, guidance, and love. It has been the surprise of my life watching this young twenty something woman from the east coast walking through the snow turn into the most important thing that ever came into my world. I am grateful and lucky that I am the one who got to spend the rest of Kateri’s life with her… I am fortunate in that way… I just wish she didn’t have to leave.
For the last 365 days… and for the four months and three days before that… I have been consumed with either the experience of watching and being a part of cancer ravish Kateri’s body and brain, the loss of Kateri, or trying to figure out how to survive without her. It’s been a struggle. I don’t eat, I find it a challenge to put myself to bed, I’m stressed out worrying about my future, my job, my home. I’m sad, I’m confused, and I hurt… this process physically hurts… but I’m here. I’m here surrounded by the memories that Kateri and I made with each other as we built our life together. She gave me twenty years of memories to draw upon when I feel the need to be close to her. She filled our home with relics which are attached to experiences over those twenty years which I can hold in my hand, I can feel, I can smell… I can touch. Kateri will always be with me… a part of me. That’s just what happens. This last year has sucked balls, but the great things that Kateri brought into this world… into my world… are still here… even if she isn’t. That is how we hold on… to the people we love more than ourselves. That is how I hold on to Kateri… because I miss her… I love her… and I always will.
ps… the video is kinda dark, but it did happen to be night time… and we were just sitting in our driveway. This is simply a minute and 18 seconds of Kateri being Kateri. Yup, sometimes she just had to finish out a song! (love ya Nina)