The Kt we loved

The Kt we loved
"I just might hurt you if you don't move that camera." — Kt

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

Someone commented that I "seemed to be doing remarkably well". This wasn't a strictly positive comment: it clearly had a note of "...and that seems wrong".

What they were referring to was that in social situations, I often seem pretty OK. Part of it is that I crave the everyday interaction with other people. I suspect this is a function of working from home, where I'm relatively isolated from other people's day-to-day lives (I have my love Anita, of course, but that's our life, and I already know what's going on there).

But the biggest reality is that it's all an illusion. I wrote before about someone saying, "I don't know how I'm supposed to act", and that's still true. I do know how to act -- in all of the varied senses of the word -- around other people, in casual situations -- shopping, visiting, or whatever.

And that's actually a comfort to me, because, Goddamnit, I do not know how I'm supposed to act in real life. I can't go around being a sad sack every minute: I mean, I suppose I could, but I'm not going to, it's too hard. I can't just hide, though in a lot of ways I'd like to. But I know how to do small talk, so I do that. Maybe this is weird, I dunno, but it's where I'm at now.

Saga link of the day: "If I Were You"

Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy Boxing Day (?)

Growing up in Canada, the day after Christmas is Boxing Day (and also in most of the current and former UK). Not a true holiday, but for some reason still sort of a big deal. And a statutory holiday in Ontario, at least when I was young, which meant "real" Christmas -- everyone off and visiting, etc. -- spanned two full days.

The folk etymology for the name has something to do with actual fighting, but that's clearly bogus. As kids, we thought it was called Boxing Day because it was the day we dragged all the boxes from Christmas out to the trash. Turns out it's much older: I of course looked on The Interwebs, and The Google says that money was collected for the poor during the holiday season, in alms-boxes placed in churches, and this money was distributed during to the poor and needy on the day after Christmas. Somehow those alms-boxes became "Boxing Day" (sounds more like it should be Un-Boxing Day!).

Thus endeth the lesson.

We spent the last 48 hours lying low, not wanting to ruin anyone else's holiday by being depressive. Watched a bunch of movies, but even that's hard -- way too many trenchant references, from the daughter heading off to college in "The Kids Are All Right" to, well, almost every part of "Mother and Child". Heck, even the last bit of "Forrest Gump" (on cable) was rough, with him meeting young Forrest. "Salt" was good escapism, at least.

Today it's back to work, such as it is -- this will be a very quiet week, with most folks off. This is good. We hope to see some friends as we can stand to, and to otherwise just keep on keepin' on.

We have been blessed beyond all logic with friends, and I will write more about that when I can figure out how to begin to do the topic justice.

Friday, December 24, 2010


Although we of course aren't feeling very merry this Christmas, I do realize that it's the holiday season and that most people are spending time with their families. And I'm kind of proud of myself for managing NOT to respond inappropriately to any of the many cashiers and the like who have wished me a "Happy Holidays". "Not so much" or just "No" were tempting, but clearly not appropriate.

Anyway, the season does make me think about what wonderful friends we have -- far more than we ever really knew. And many of them are because of Katie. We're lucky to have them, and -- despite our current pain -- we were lucky to have had her.

I keep having conversations with her in my head, whether about stupid stuff (bad puns, articles she would have wanted to read, news stories she would have wanted to hear...) as well as more substantive topics. Yesterday I was wondering how I would have answered her if she'd asked, "What do you, as a parent, expect from me in my life?"

The wildly insufficient answer I came up with was along the lines of, "Of course I want you to be rich and famous and do great things to help make the world a better place and have a fulfilling family life with lots of grandchildren. But what I really want most is for you to be happy at whatever you do. Whether that includes any of those other things doesn't matter: if you're happy living in poverty as a hermit, that's fine. I just want you to enjoy your life."

I hope she knew that this was how we felt.

And in another, happier dimension (and forever in my heart):

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan...

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

So begins Coleridge's poem Kubla Khan ( Whenever I read the name "Kübler-Ross", as in the "Kübler-Ross model" (better known as "the five stages of grief",, the lines above come to mind.

The five stages:
  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance
This all sounds very neat and tidy, but of course it isn't really. As the Wikipedia page above notes, the five stages aren't all necessarily encountered, nor are they linear.

I think I'm past #1, although there are daily occurrences of "I'll have to tell Katie...crap." I remember when my dad died in 2006 that these went on for quite a while, and eventually receded to "My dad would have liked...". Not sure that will ever happen this time, although I guess it would be healthy if it eventually did.

I'm avoiding #2, as I believe it's counterproductive, plus I know myself well enough to realize that it's going to cause me other problems. In the usual day-to-day encounters with idiots (like the guy who parked his minivan 3 inches from my door, so I had to climb across the other seat -- thanks, buddy!), I'm making a conscious effort to ignore the irritation, lest I go postal. Not that I don't have moments where I could punch a hole through the drywall, but, again, that won't be counterproductive (and typing one-handed will really suck).

#3 makes no sense for me: nothing to bargain with.

#4 is, of course, the big danger. I'm sure I'm depressed -- I'd be worried if I weren't -- but not in a bad way (if that makes any sense at all). It's manifesting mainly physically: poor sleep, feeling lethargic, just finding my give-a-damn quotient is generally low. I feel closer to Anita and to our many friends than ever, and I know that's a good thing. Focusing on tasks -- exciting things like emptying the dishwasher (though that also often brings to mind the epic battles getting Kt to do this small chore), or researching replacement CFL light bulbs on the web to find the best price -- is a distraction, during which the pain recedes. Work helps here for me, since it can be quite consuming.

#5 -- well, there's an element of acceptance in simply going on through day-to-day living, now isn't there? If "acceptance" means "forgetting it happened" and not thinking about my beautiful, smart, wonderful girl every day, then I don't think I'll get there; and to be quite frank, I'm not sure I want to. Maybe acceptance means just not feeling depressed a good percentage of the time: being distracted by every day life to the point that November 10th, 2010 isn't in my forebrain most of the time. I dunno.

And I guess that's what it all comes down to: I dunno. One thing is for certain: this ain't no Xanadu.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I don't write poetry

At least, I haven't since I was twelve, but apparently my subconscious does. I woke up a few days after Kt's death -- and most mornings since -- with a Haiku in my head:

I open my eyes
Each day and for a moment
I think it's not true

No idea where that came from; I've Googled it, in whole and in parts, enough to convince myself it isn't something I saw somewhere.

The mind works in strange ways...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Paint it black

I'm having an exceedingly crappy day. Not for any particular reason, just because. I keep seeing my beautiful daughter's smiling face, and then I just lose it.

The other night I dreamed we were arguing with her about having a TV in her room -- even my dreams don't makes sense: Kt didn't care enough about TV to want one in her room, and there's no cable connection in there anyway.

A week from tomorrow is Christmas, always her favorite holiday (like most people!). This year the carols on the Muzak put my teeth on edge, and I want to slap the Salvation Army dude with his ****ing bell (yes, as Nixon said, "We could do that, but it would be wrong").

At least it's pretty outside, sorta. Strange for a first snow to stick so well -- usually the ground isn't cold enough. They've backed off the threat of snow for Sunday, so those of you who are on your way home from college should be able to travel without incident. I'm glad for that!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Back to the future

Well, I'm back home from rainy California, after two whirlwind days of good meetings. Missed Anita like crazy, of course, and am extremely glad to be back here.

Of course, "here" is also the new reality, and Kt isn't here. Now and for the future. Thud.

Driving out there made me think about how much Kt loved California. She hadn't been there since she learned to drive, but would have found yet another reason to like it: drivers out there really are nicer than around here. I ran an errand tonight, and had one driver ignore right-of-way, another almost hit me and then flare left so he could turn right without signaling, a third decide that it was perfectly reasonable to veer into the oncoming traffic in a parking lot so he could park blocking that lane while he ran into a store (well, he did put his hazards on, which must forgive everything!), and -- the Northern Virginia coup de grace -- on the way home, I signaled a lane change to I could pass a slow-moving truck, and another car sped up to block the slot lest I get ahead of him.

California drivers just don't tend to do those things. Of course they aren't perfect, but I've observed before that they consistently seem to be more, well, professional. And Kt would have appreciated that.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Karma Chameleon

I heard Culture Club's "Karma Chameleon" on the radio yesterday (1983, band fronted by Boy George, who was flamboyantly gay back when that was still a bit shocking!), and my first thought was, "That's Kt". Then I realized I was entirely wrong: a chameleon changes to match its surroundings; Kt's rare gift (one of many) was her ability to not change herself a bit, but to still relate to others.

Something we should all aspire to.

Regards from cloudy Cupertino.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Off to see the wizard

So tomorrow (Sunday) evening I'm off to the San Francisco Bay area to visit Voltage HQ. This is the first time in over a month that Anita and I have spent more than a couple of hours apart, and I'm not looking forward to that. Back Wednesday afternoon.

I am kind of hoping that for me, at least, the trip will be a distraction, but I worry about Anita alone here for a few days. And, to be honest, I worry about me, too. I never know what will trigger a "moment", as I prefer to call my sobbing breakdowns. We made many trips to SFO with Kt, and while I'll be flying into San Jose and probably not going north of Cupertino (new Voltage address), it's still the Bay area, so there may be triggers.

Thought for the day: We cannot understand what is fundamentally an irrational act. I keep reminding myself of that, lest the wondering drag me too far off the rational track. Not working yet, but I can keep hoping...

On a lighter note, the "Lemons / Perfect for orange juice" sign from Giant (and other Ahold-owned stores) finally made it to Consumer Reports' Selling It (inside the back cover). Kt was always going to send that in, but never got around to it...

Ain't no "Why"

It's been a month as of yesterday, and it's still unimaginable. It's way too real, while at the same time surreal. Folks say things like "It will get easier", but it doesn't seem to.

Someone wrote that "you're only ever as happy as your least happy child". OK, so if your only child was so unhappy that it overcame her, where does that leave us? Anita and I love each other more than anything, but we loved our daughter equally, and now we have this huge hole in ourselves.

I long ago realized that life consists of oscillating between problems and solutions, sorrow and joy, big and small. This is normal; the bad allows us to enjoy the good. We're all the product of this oscillation, and that's normal too. But this isn't a "problem" that we can solve, isn't a "problem" that can go away.

Someone close to Kt said to me, "I don't know how I'm supposed to act", and I knew exactly what he meant. He wasn't simply expressing the typical (if entirely reasonable) "I really don't know what I should say to you", he was honestly saying that he doesn't know how he's expected to carry on day-to-day life as it was before, because it isn't as it was before. And I didn't know what to say to him, because I don't either. I hear the same thing in my siblings' voices--they sound so lost, as we all are.

One of the things that you don't realize about grief until you're in it is how random it is, how trivial things can pull the scab off the wound and rip it wide open: a song on the radio that she loved; thinking you hear her downstairs in the kitchen (just the icemaker, sigh); a random sighting of something that makes you think, "I'll have to tell Kt...I mean, I would have told Kt...ah, ****" -- and you're bleeding again.

The title of this post speaks for itself, but also evokes the Kt song of the day (thanks Madz): Chaka Khan, "Ain't Nobody" ...I remember Kt boppin' out to this in the passenger seat of the minivan, with Madz and Yale and Mira in the back!

Friday, December 10, 2010

What this isn't

This blog is for me to write my thoughts in. I welcome comments if you have some, but I really don't care if anyone else ever reads it.