A Letter to Kateri

I wrote this letter to Kateri one morning sitting in the big blue vinyl recliner next to her when she was in Palliative Care.  It was early, 5:30ish, but sleep wasn’t exactly a concern… or reality… at that point in time. She was pretty much sedated by then, which was the only reason I could write it sitting next to her… otherwise the clicking of the keys would’ve driven her batty. It was hard to write something to Kateri while sitting next to her as her body was slowly shutting down, but I think I needed her to be there for me to do it.  I needed to tell her those things in person… to touch her arm as I tried to form sentences between the tears… to know that she was still here… while I was preparing for her not to be.  This letter was written by a man hours away from losing the most important thing in his life. A man witnessing and experiencing the death of the most beautiful, honest, and real person he has ever seen or met.. his partner, his best friend… his wife.

Myimg_2883.jpg Dearest Kateri,
On (April 22, 2018 at sunset), you left this earth after your courageous dance with cancer. Your approach to death was the same as your approach to life; to face it head on, to be secure in who you are and who you have been since the day you were born, to put your fear aside and have faith in your friends and family to be there when you need them, and for them to give you space when you need your solitude. This last dance was short and unexpected, but you demonstrated strength in a time when most of us were weak. You showed us how to smile in a time of adversity. You made us laugh in a time of sorrow. You loved us hard when the times weren’t easy. You were the light in my darkness and guided us all through the gray. Your name means “Little Sunshine”, but the light you cast over everyone who crossed your path was anything but slight. You leave this earth in body, but the rays of light you cast upon us will provide us all with warmth and comfort as we try to maneuver the gauntlet of life without you. You are my partner. You are my wife. You have given me more than I could ever give you back. I am forever grateful to you for choosing me and for allowing me to share your space for the last 20 years. I will miss the face hugs, the 4:30am drives to the ocean, your laughter in our little red schoolhouse, your touch in the middle of the night, and coffee in bed next to you on Sunday mornings. I will remember you by the life you planted in our Vermont soil, in the ring that means so much more than marriage, in the Damato family that you have extended to me, in floor couches, Backie, Lippy, rear wheel drive, and every other quirky little thing that was for just the two of us. We met in the middle of nowhere and you gave me a world I never knew was possible. Thank you, I love you, and I will always be by your side.