The Kt we loved

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

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Another year gone

Like Katie, I read. A lot. Mostly fiction, not literature—just entertaining stuff, thrillers, mysteries, stuff like that. Occasionally I come across a phrase that grabs me, like the following, after a couple has lost a child:

But it had also asked the necessary question: In the absence of a child to love, will this be enough? Will the two of you, for each other, be enough? And the answer…was yes. It had brought them closer, gently. It had confirmed them.

Six years in, that resonates. This isn’t a confirmation one wants to go through, but we have survived, and there are apparently a lot of couples who don’t (although there seems to be some debate about whether that’s really true or not). I think we were lucky (FSVO “lucky”) in that we had no reason to blame each other: it wasn’t “Well, you were the one who said it was OK for him to buy a motorcycle”, to pick an obvious, easy-to-lay-blame situation, reasonable or not.

So here we are, six years later, on a fall day remarkably like that one: cool and blustery. Or maybe not: maybe my memory is wrong…

Thanks to so many folks for your thoughts today, eh?

As Anita wrote so beautifully on Facebook:
We miss you beyond measure. Rest in Peace our beloved daughter.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

I'd give this a C+ at best, if it were a short story that ended this way

I have several unfinished posts that just haven't gelled. Not sure why.

Meanwhile, I don't dream about Katie much—or if I do, I don’t remember the dreams.

Last night was a rare exception: we were about to go somewhere, the three of us. Katie was in one of those teenage moods, just being a complete and utter terror. We were all in the kitchen getting ready to go; Anita said something mildly to Katie, who snarled back and stalked out to the car. Anita looked at me and said, “I tried, now you need to talk to her”, with the unspoken addendum “…because this [wherever it was we were headed] is supposed to be a family outing, and the way she’s acting, it’s not gonna happen”.

And with that, I was right back in the hell of that last year: day-to-day ups and downs worrying about her, feeling bad for her that she was hurting, not knowing what to do or how to help, huddling with Anita trying desperately to figure out things to try. Not that I wouldn’t give a lot for the chance to be back in it now, but our lives are very quiet nowadays by comparison, so it was a shock. I sighed and reached for the doorknob…

…and then the garbage truck arrived in the court outside and woke me up.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Getting it right

Recently we were graced with two days of visits from one of Anita’s nephews, his wife, and their daughters, aged 1½ and 2½.

I must admit to a fair bit of trepidation about this visit. Not because I thought it would be unpleasant—I like my in-laws!—but because for the last five years I’ve avoided small children. Just not a good idea for me: too evocative.

But of course that was no reason to say “No, I don’t want them to visit”, so I gritted my teeth and vowed to endure. They arrived mid-day, each with a child in their arms. And within a half-hour, the girls were chattering away and exploring. (Those who know Anita will be unsurprised to hear that she’d arranged a number of special surprises for them—nothing fancy, just things that kids that age love!)

Toward the end of the first afternoon, the older girl came up to me and held out her arms. “She wants a hug!” said her mother, so I obliged. And then had to go to another room for a few minutes until I could see normally again, after being transported back two dozen years.

But that turns out to have been cathartic. After that, I was able to open up a bit and enjoy them more. The second day was even better, as both the girls and I were more relaxed. We played, we went for walks, and we sat around and chatted. One of those great visits where there’s no real agenda, so you don’t try to structure things too much and wind up stressed. There were many tears at our end when they left.

Watching the parents, I had a small epiphany: these two young adults are enjoying the hell out of having these kids. I'm sure not every minute is magic, but they’re fully engaged and interested, seem to have a great partnership, and are guiding them through life, without being overly strict or helicoptering. A rare combination these days, in my (admittedly limited) experience, and something they should be very proud of.

And that, too, took me back. I think that Anita and I really tried to appreciate every minute with our girl. Of course we didn’t succeed all the time, but I believe we made a darned good attempt.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Been a while

Haven't had a lot to say lately.

But we were touched not long ago by a contact from a "camp counselor" at a Young Writer's Workshop (YWW) Katie attended at UVA the summer after her sophomore year of high school. This woman wrote:
I only learned of her passing last year, and when I did I turned immediately to these notes—which I hadn't re-read since I wrote them in 2008—for solace. I wasn't at all surprised to find that, though it's been a while, what's written here is exactly how I remember Katie: the young woman I met was a compassionate, funny and mature person that I continued to think of fondly long after the summer was over.
Excerpted from those notes:
6/22/08: Katie arrived, and when her parents left, she immediately came out and started chatting with me, nervously and sweetly. She wanted to know what music I was playing, and what kind of music scene Charlottesville had. She established herself immediately as a sweet, curious and intelligent kid.
6/25/08: Katie has been playing wonderful and diverse music each morning around wake-up time. We had a great chat about music, as a result, and later she showed me a book of poems she’s been reading by an indie musician. She volunteered to let me borrow it. She’s incredibly knowledgeable about music, and loves to talk about it, but she isn’t at all pretentious or snobby. Her sense of humor is wry and mischievous, but she loves to laugh, and there’s an endearing, down-to-earth goofiness about her. I can tell she enjoys conversing with counselors, and that she’s comfortable with us, but that she looks up to us in a sweet way, as well. Thus far, she has been an incredible advocate during suite times; when I’m trying to get everyone to settle down a little bit, she jumps in readily and helps me settle them, without being in the least bit condescending.

6/26/08: Today, Katie helped me “liberate” food from O-Hill for the Iron Chef: O-Hill elective, which she is super excited about taking.* Katie is nothing if not helpful; she was so excited about helping, and got really into it. She also wanted to use her fridge to store things for the elective. Her enthusiasm for the elective was contagious, too; she’s someone who can’t contain her excitement, which I love, because so many people her age are trying to act as if they’ve “seen it all before.”

7/2/08: Tonight, Katie read her piece at the Writer’s CafĂ©. Though she hadn’t talked much about being nervous, her legs were shaking visibly. As she read, she gained confidence, and her piece was wonderful, a very personal piece about a friend she’s worried about. Katie is a socially sensitive, good-humored and very down-to-earth woman, and she’s mature beyond her years. She has taken good care of her roommate and friend, but has also forged her own identity at YWW. She has been a joy, and is someone who I easily would have been friends with in high school, or even now.

* Iron Chef: O-Hill was an elective I ran where students were divided into teams and the teams had to "make" dishes that corresponded to a theme, using dining hall food, plastic silverware, and no heat source. As I recall, Katie totally excelled at this. :)

Yep, that's our girl...