The Kt we loved

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

Monday, February 28, 2011

Trying to pass the test

Growing up in Ontario, my best friend was a goalie, and he was good -- played what we in Virginia would call "Travel" hockey (it was called either "rep" or "all-star" back then). This meant that his dad spent a ton of time driving around southern Ontario to various rinks, and he often let me ride along. We'd talk about various stuff (besides hockey!), and he was an interesting guy. He taught sociology at the university, and I found it somewhat interesting.

Since November, I've often thought about him (he passed away several years ago) and what he'd have to say about how folks react to a tragedy like this. It's a test, though I don't see it as one to pass or fail: rather, I think it measures how well we're connected to our emotions and our ability to express that.

What I mean is that people's reactions run the gamut, ranging from empathetic and carefully thought out to jolly and seemingly carefree. None of of these is "wrong" -- people have to react as they are able to -- but it's fascinating to observe because it's so unpredictable.

One would think that age, experience, and how close someone was to us would be significant factors here, but they don't appear to be: some of the most heartfelt responses were from some of the youngest folks, or from people with whom we were not close. And some of the least empathetic were from older people, some of whom are almost family.

It is difficult to accept people who don't even acknowledge your loss. Near as I can tell, this comes from one of three places:

- they think it's so obvious that they care that they don't need to say anything
- they don't know what to say
- they're afraid that if they say anything, they'll "bring us down"

These are all quite understandable, but they all make me want to ask them a basic question: "If you don't say anything, why do you think we'll take your caring for granted?" That sounds harsh, but we're pretty raw here.

I want to go on to tell them, "If you don't know what to say, then say that. It tells us that you care but are at a loss." We're all at a loss. As my earlier post said, "Ain't no why".

And trust me, we're down already. We not only don't forget, but actually need to talk about our loss to heal. I'm not sure if this represents becoming inured from repeated exposure, or if we'll actually get to understanding through talking, or perhaps just that the acknowledgment and caring themselves are a balm.

I'm at a conference in sunny Anaheim this week, across the street from Disneyland. We took Katie there several times, back when she was young enough that we'd pull her out of school for a week before or after this conference and go to California as a family. It's been six years since I was here, and eleven years since we were all here together, so it's only vaguely unsettling to see familiar sights.

It is very nice to see old friends -- many of whom I only ever see once or twice a year at meetings. I just spoke with one, a guy I've actually known only since 2008. He asked after the family, so I told him the news. He was shaken, and said he cannot imagine how we're coping. He has a 12-year-old and a 15-year-old, and said, "I feel a great urge to go hug my kids right now".

Amen, brother.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Road Trip

Had a solo road trip Thursday, on a route Kt and I used to frequent, north through MD and PA to NY and back. It was glorious weather, and she would have insisted on doing the driving.

Of course I thought about her an awful lot. There's a partially destroyed billboard north of Harrisburg that says:

What's missing?

I remember the first time we saw that; I said "That's weird, wonder what it means?" and she instantly replied, "It's saying YOU ARE missing -- U R, get it?". So smart, so quick.

Anyway, I loaded up a stack of CDs for the drive, as we used to do (pre-iPod!), and rediscovered some great music. I spent a lot of the time listening to my second-favorite Canadian prog-rock band, Rush. We saw them play once at Nissan Pavilion; I think that was the first live rock concert she ever went to.

One tune in particular was on heavy rotation most of the trip home, Afterimage from 1984's Grace Under Pressure:

Suddenly, you were gone
From all the lives you left your mark upon
I learned your love for life
I feel your presence
I remember
I feel the way you would
This just can't be understood...


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Three months today

I've been trying to come up with something to post all day, and just not getting anywhere.

92 days. Something over 2200 hours. And of course she's still here, in every corner of this house, in every corner of my mind. Every day I still think of things I have to tell her, things I have to make sure she knows, things I want to hear her tell me.

I sit here in the den and look at Yellow Bobby and the pictures of her and it all seems so surreal. Our beautiful, whip-smart, happy, clever, loving, funny, sweet child, in such incredible and unsustainable pain. Why???

Saga link of the day: "What do I Know?"

Sunday, February 6, 2011

How 'bout dem Packers?

Well, I was actually nominally cheering for the Steelers, but I didn't really care that much, and it was a pretty good game.

Seeing all the linemen with the wild tattoos reminded me of an incident when Katie was maybe 10 or 11. We were at Macaroni Grill, and at a table of twenty-somethings,a young woman's shirt had ridden up in the back, exposing the tattoo at the base of her spine.

Seeing it, Katie asked Anita, "What is that?"

Anita explained that it was a tattoo.

"Oh", Katie said, "I would never get one of those. But if I did, it would say, 'If you can read this, you're too close'".

Classic Kt wit...

And while her attitude towards body art mellowed over time, I think Katie would have liked the graphic below; if it's too small, the original is here, on GraphJam.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Something Katie and I had in common (not the only thing!) was waking up with a song playing in our heads. Perhaps not unusual, except at least in my case, I often have no idea where it's coming from. The other day, for example, I woke up with a song from "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" playing ("The Book Report" -- jeez, everything is on YouTube!). I haven't heard it in at least thirty years (proof: what I had playing in my head wasn't even quite right).

And I don't have any metal fillings; I guess it's possible the CIA has a radio implant in my head, but I don't set off metal detectors at the airport.

Today's selection was John Waite, "Missing You", which at least makes some sense. And I did hear that on the radio a couple of days ago when I was in California.

Sure wish it was just miles that separate us like in the song, eh?