I was up in Waterloo, Ontario, where I grew up (ages 8-25) this week. It was nominally a business trip—I had a two-hour meeting with a prospect—but of course I took advantage of it to see my sister in Toronto and my mother and several friends in Waterloo.
As usually happens when I go somewhere that we used to visit with Katie, I was flooded with memories, overlaid with the nostalgia that goes with being older and visiting somewhere that you spent a lot of time when you were young.
In talking with one dear friend, she told me that when her oldest two
boys were little, they got two cats from the Humane Society. The boys
wanted to call them Batman and Robin, but she said "They already have
names" and so they kept those. "Why did I do that?" she asked. "Why was I
so rigid about it? I should have just let them call them what they
I thought of this when I passed a place on Highway 6 that has several life-sized fiberglass dinosaurs in front, for some reason (OK, this is the web era, and the reason is here). When Katie was little, she of course always wanted to stop to see them, and now I'm similarly wondering why we never did (although perhaps it would have just been a disappointment, as such things so often are).
My friend went on, in talking about Katie, to say something that I quite like: "You'll never get over this, but eventually you may get used to it". I think that's pretty good: humans are amazingly adaptable creatures, and folks learn to live with daily problems ranging from irritating co-workers to chronic pain, physical handicaps, and even terminal disease.
That's not an imperative: there's no "should" here. Some people don't learn to live with whatever troubles them, and that's just the way it is. That doesn't make them "dumb" or "weak" or anything else bad, it just means that they weren't built that way, just as some people can't learn to read music (me, for instance!). Katie didn't manage to "get used to" her disease, and everyone knows how strong and smart and adaptable she was.
And of course there's no timetable, either. I've heard of people saying that "It's been long enough, so-and-so needs to get back to normal". That's just ignorant in the extreme. One actually hopes such people either never suffer a loss, or that when they do, they realize how wrong they were, rather than beating themselves up about not following some imaginary schedule for "getting over it".
It's been 14 months today. Maybe at 140 months, or 280, or some other number, I'll get used to this.