It hit me last night… I’m trying to jam “healing” into a time frame and attaching it to all sorts of things. This is one reason I’m thankful I decided to use writing, to start a blog, as a tool for myself as I go through this process. Recently, my plan was to just get all those things that I associate with “widower” stuff on the blog by the one year anniversary of Kateri’s passing. I wanted it all there… consolidated… organized… so that I could start year 2 with a fresh and brighter outlook, but I can’t do it. Tomorrow is the anniversary of one of the roughest days of my life… the day we found out there were no other options (two immunotherapy treatments which had two drugs at each treatment… along with one radiation session… did absolutely nothing). The day after that is the ER. The day after that… Palliative Care.
I need to remember those times without trying to pile on what I was going through after she had passed. I mentioned that I need to take the next couple of weeks and mourn the loss of Kateri, to remember her, and this experience. I just can’t do that while posting and thinking about the time right after she passed. It’s just too much… and it takes away from the uniqueness of each experience. I feel it would diminish them… to just notes about an experience. Writing and this blog has shown me that.
Soooo, after reading my notes from Day 15, I thought it was fitting to pause the “Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning” notes here (I’ll still be posting other things) until after the 22nd, and to remember not only the last two weeks of Kateri’s life… but the 44 other years we were all so lucky and thankful to have her in our lives. For me, I just want to remember the last 20 years… my life with Kateri… and not the life without her.
Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning
Day 15… woke up at 8:00am… got out of bed at 8:45… just needed to be horizontal a little longer.
As I get ready to go back to work, I decided to shoot the entire company (for some reason) an email to show my gratitude. This is what I sent out.
Good Morning Everyone,
As I try to reintegrate back into life I was going to write to my crew, to my peeps, to our department, to say “Thanks!” for supporting me and for picking up my slack over the last however long when I realized that I needed to thank everyone who makes up this company. What I just went through (and am still going through) requires support from all sorts of different angles, from all sorts of people who are in my life in varying degrees. I don’t know most of you and I’m sure most of you don’t know me, but we have KA that connects us and right now those connections are helping me as I try to navigate, cope with, and live with this new life that was thrust upon me. My wife, Kateri Marie Damato, died 2 weeks ago after a four month and three-day dance (she considered it a dance… not a battle, not a fight… although she fought hard) with Metastatic Malignant Melanoma in the brain at the age of 44. She had a rare mutation in the disease that was just absolutely brutal to her body. She faced it head on and with that “Kateri” approach to life. She never asked for a prognosis, never took narcotics for the pain because they disgusted her, she never said the “woe is me” type stuff, she never stopped living her life or being who she is when faced with an obstacle that would have left most of us destroyed on the floor and unable to function because of the weight of it. This has been the absolute worst thing that has happened to me in my life so far. I have never felt so saddened, so scared, so sorry for someone else. I have never felt so many different emotions, so much pain while… numb at the same time. It is a strange thing to go through losing a spouse, a partner. Two weeks ago, I went from traveling through this life and all that it brings (a home, experiences, travel, friends, moments, chickens) with someone who I planned on being old and wrinkly with… to instant independence and all the challenges that that brings emotionally, physically, and financially. To say the least, it has been a bit much.
The point of this email is not to list all the horrible things that come along with a big pile of shit like this, but to shed light on the amount of beauty that I have seen while going through this experience. The amount of love and support from friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, and strangers has been simply overwhelming. The conversations, the phone calls, the texts, the emails from all sorts of people in our life from all sorts of places has made some of this bearable and the rest of it not quite as daunting. Life doesn’t stop for any of us roaming this planet, but sometimes we need to stop and say “thank you”. I thank everyone for giving me time to be with my wife as she lived with cancer, to care for her when it got rough, and for the time to initially cope with my life after it had taken her’s. I thank you for providing me with the memory of being treated as a person, not an employee, in a time of adversity. I thank you for the opportunity to look back at this and say, “Ummm, that went as well as it possibly could… for a big pile of shit”.
I am just one person within this company and I know we all have a different experience with it, but I felt the need to share part of my experience with all of you because it has been a positive one… and this is what it’s all about. We are a company made up of people who are all just living life… it’s as simple as that. I look forward to using some of my new-found time to get to know some of you a little more. You can check out my FB page if you want a fuller story of our life recently and in years past (I’m cool with friend requests at this time… filling voids n such), and I’ll check out yours. If not, that’s cool and groovy… we don’t all need to be friends. More importantly, please just be kind to one another, respect each other for being here, and support the people who you are surrounded by every day because that is the way life should be lived, that is the way people should be treated, and that is the experience that you have given me.
a. I’ve gotten some replies already and they make me feel hesitantly better.
a. Paid the bill, my name is nowhere on the account, they transferred me to CS… got sick of waiting and have to wait for death certificates anyways.
b. Haven’t gotten death certificates yet… kind of annoying, but not really. Doesn’t really matter at this point… I’ll get them at some point.
Set up the new phone.
a. Kind of a fun little new thing. I like that it is black like the router… sorta blends in, doesn’t stand our as much as the white.
Keith came over and we chatted on the front deck for a bit (left at 3:30ish).
a. The sun was nice. Had to open up the umbrella.
b. First time I hade cried in a bit. It feels good to be able to cry when he visits, I’m finding I get more emotional when other people are around
c. He’s gonna start working 5 days a week…
Drove up to Burlington for Penny Cluse’s 20th Anniversary. It was something that is uncomfortable for me… social situations… alone, but I wanted to congratulate Charles and Holly and say thank you for being a part of my life. It is still one of my favorite restaurants and I hold Charles in such high regard as a cook/restaurateur
a. Didi and Nick pulled up besides me as I was texting with my dad about places to stay when they come out.
b. I felt awkward about going in, but I felt pretty secure with my actions… I knew I needed to go in and I knew that I really did want to see people. (It didn’t feel weird)
c. People I saw: Didi, Nick/John, Charles, Holly, Tracy, Stasia, Dan Marshall, Moira/Joe, Andy, Carlton, Juan, Sabra, Betzida?, Ruslan/Emily, Dale, James, Clarence/Sandy, Jake/Kristen, Gardner, Sipha,….
d. Stayed longer than expected, but was gonna roll with it anyways. I’m glad I stayed as along as I did to see the people I did and to have the conversations I had.
Drove home, talked to my folks about some Freedom Farm house (looked it up when I got home… hopefully they can book it).
a. I had to just get off the phone with them considering my father kept running downstairs to the computer to get information on it… I was trying to get home… and it was late already, but that is what makes it interesting and entertaining.
Read cards from Leo and Heidi, and Nancy D.
Went to bed at 2:10am…. First day of work tomorrow. Another first day of my new life… more Dr. Phil moments to come.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
- If you have lost a spouse, if you are going through any type of traumatic experience, take care of yourself. If you don’t know how?… you’ll figure it out… and there are people to help you along the way.
- I love how this little website gives me information. I saw people were searching for “Kateri Lidstrom”… she didn’t take my name! We were progressive n shit. (Actually, we didn’t like the idea of changing her name… Kateri Lidstrom wasn’t who she was… and it sounded stupid)
- Yup… just looked down at myself and it made me kinda laugh. A friend once referred to me as an Axeless Mountain Dwarf… I guess this is what one looks like in the morning!