January Addendum

The Garfield Court invited me to submit a victim statement for the criminal case for the driver who killed Kim.

The final pre-trial hearing was Tuesday. This was my final addendum to the victim impact statement.

By the way, today it’s been five months since the accident.

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I wrote the victim impact statement three months ago for the pre-trial date of October 18, 2016. This is the third addendum. Thursday will have been five months since the defendant’s semi ran into Kim’s car.

I don’t know how Christmas was in the home of the defendant. I know it wasn’t nearly the same at our house.

Friends and family supported us through Christmas Eve and Christmas. They were wonderful, thoughtful, and supportive. I asked Kim’s cousins and mom’s of Maggie’s friends what a 20 year old girl would want for Christmas. You know – other than to still have her mother.

In our house Christmas Eve and Christmas were Kim’s holidays. She loved Christmas. She loved unwrapping each ornament. She loved decorating the house. She loved mulling cider and sitting under a blanket listening to Christmas music waiting for our daughter to wake up and come downstairs Christmas morning.

I did the best I could but it just wasn’t the same.

Turns out even someone my age really just wants one thing for Christmas. The thing the defendant took from us.

A week later we had the same friends over for New Year’s Eve that we’ve had over for more than a decade. I’ve known the husband for more than thirty years. I’ve known his wife for more than fifty years. The only thing missing was my wife of more than twenty years.

Maudlin? Perhaps. But you want to know the impact of the loss.

There’s also the nuts and bolts. I didn’t work at all in September or October. I’m self-employed and couldn’t travel to teach. I started to revise my book in November but had missed an important deadline in September – those sales are lost forever. I made no money in September. I made $14 in October. I sold one copy of an older book.

I’m beginning to work again but who knows if the business will come back. People have been so nice – but business is business.

Mostly though, there’s Maggie.

Maggie is smart, independent, funny, resourceful, … she’s so many things I admire. But Maggie is 20. There are times she still needs her mother.

There are some things a 20 year old young woman would rather ask her mother than her father.

She doesn’t have that option.

I answer the best I can but there’s so much I don’t know.

What about medical insurance? For now we are paying to stay on Kim’s via COBRA but with changes coming to insurance laws I don’t know what I’ll need to do to keep Maggie insured. I thought we wouldn’t have to worry until she was 26.

More nuts and bolts. We used to use Kim’s income to pay for our medical insurance. That’s obviously not an option anymore.

I expect we’ll figure things out and get by. But you asked what the impact is on us.

Every time we get a medical bill I think of Kim. She used to take care of these. She’d call the insurance company and take care of charges that were denied or whatever. I don’t understand any of that.

One of the interesting facets of having this pre-trial go on for so long is that I’m beginning to understand the depth of the loss beyond the “I really miss her” phase.

Thank goodness for Kim’s family. Thank goodness for my family. Thank goodness for Maggie. Thank goodness for all of our friends.

There’s much to be thankful for.

But this is a huge loss in ways that I get better at articulating as the legal proceedings drag on.

Published in: on January 19, 2017 at 8:23 am  Leave a Comment  

And Back

A friend posted a note that ended “Love you both to the moon and back” and it reminded me of a book Kim used to read to Elena.

We both read to the girls a lot when they were little but there were some books they wanted Kim to read and some books they wanted me to read.

Kim always read “Little Bear” to Elena and she always read her “Guess How Much I Love You”.

Elena was our second child but Kim’s first birth.

We constantly had to explain that. I remember our first time at the childbirth class when Kim mentioned Maggie to someone and they said, “wait, this isn’t your first child?”

Kim’s family threw her a baby shower. We had nothing for the first year of a baby’s life as we didn’t meet Maggie until just after her first birthday.

A mother of a friend of mine gave us “Guess How Much I Love You” and told Kim how much she’d loved the story and the pictures.

I remember our family singing “I see the moon” when long car drives spilled over into the night time and the moon came out.

The point of the song was that even if I’m not with the one I love, we both look up to the sky and see the same moon.

That moon so far away is somehow joining two of us together.

Somehow, just as the sun reflects off the moon and I see it, my love reflects off the moon and they see it.

My love has travelled to the moon and back.

And yet.

It turns out the internet has arguments about that phrase.

Some people hate those on Facebook and elsewhere that use it.

“Why the moon?” some ask. “Why not a more distant planet?”

“Why the moon?” some ask. “Why not use a more precise measurement that has meaning?”

Shut up.

Is there no poetry in your life?

It reminds me of that early date with Kim where I made her get out of the car to look at the moon with me.

It reminds me that this year she took me outside because she’d noticed how beautiful the moon looked in the sky and I cried because she had noticed.

Kim used to read “Guess How Much I Love You” to Elena while Maggie sat nearby pretending not to listen.

The Little Nutbrown Hare would say to the Big Nutbrown Hare, “I love you up to the moon.”

The Big Nutbrown Hare didn’t say, “only the moon? Why not the stars?”

The Big Nutbrown Hare didn’t say, “really, that’s only a couple hundred thousand miles.”

No, the Big Nutbrown Hare said, “Oh, that’s far.”

In searching for the exact dialog I saw something I don’t think I ever knew about the story. The Little Nutbrown Hare and the Big Nutbrown hare are both males in the story. I always saw the story with Elena and Kim occupying those characters and thought they were both female.

It’s a story about a father and a son.

It’s a story about a love and a bond and the internet can just shut up.

If you do,

if you just shut up and embrace the story,

if you just hear the phrase,

you’ll feel the warmth when the Big Nutbrown Hare kisses the Little Nutbrown Hare goodnight, lays down nearby and whispers with a smile,

“I love you to the moon and back.”

 

Published in: on January 14, 2017 at 9:44 am  Comments (1)  

The Look

When you look at your co-worker what do you see? Do you see someone you work together with? Someone you want to see succeed?

What if you’re higher up in the organization than they are? Do you look at them with a look that says “man, I appreciate all you do.”? Do you have their back even behind their back? Do you let other people know how much you’re glad you have them working with you.

There was a moment during Obama’s farewell speech the other night when he looked at Joe Biden and you saw what kind of man each of them was.

This wasn’t a “he works for me but all the good that happens here is ’cause of me” kind of look. It was a “I’m so glad I had you with me on this journey” look.

I used to make fun of Kim when she’d tell me that this celebrity was a nice person.

“Why,” I’d tease, “because of what they show you on TV?”

“I know,” she’d say, “but I can just tell.”

She loved Joe Biden. She just knew he was a nice man. She loved Barrack Obama. She knew he was someone special from the first time she saw him.

Even though it was on TV, I think she was right.

There was a moment during Obama’s farewell speech the other night when he looked at his children and you saw the kind of dad he is and the kind of dad he wants to be.

It was a moment on TV. It was scripted. He knew he was being watched by millions. It still felt real to me.

I’ve seen a lot of politicians say things about their kids. This felt different.

I know that look a dad has when he looks at his children and his chest swells with pride knowing he had almost nothing to do with how great his children have become.

I have that look on my face sometimes when I look at Maggie. I don’t even mind that she rolls her eyes when she catches me doing it.

Someday she’ll know.

There was a moment during Obama’s farewell speech the other night when he looked at me. He told me to be vigilant but not afraid. He didn’t tell me that I can. He has never told me that I can. He told me again that we can.

It’s the African saying we learned at Upward Bound: I am because we are and because we are, therefore I am.

We are.

We can.

But the moment I loved the most was the moment during Obama’s farewell speech the other night when he looked at Michelle. You could see the rest of the room disappear for that moment and all he could see was her.

I thought this morning of Duncan’s iconic photo of the iPhone. He didn’t just capture the phone. He captured the people looking at the phone.

In that moment during the farewell speech we saw Michelle and we saw her husband, her partner, her best friend, and her biggest fan looking at her with a look that was indescribably wonderful, respectful, deep, and so full of love.

May you find someone you look at that way.

May you find someone who looks at you that way.

I did. It made me better in every way.

I am because we are and because we are, therefore I am.

Published in: on January 12, 2017 at 10:19 am  Comments (1)  

Look Again

The iPhone was introduced ten years ago.

Kim bought me my first iPhone for my birthday that year.

I don’t think I would have bought one for myself.

She was always smarter about that sort of thing. She pointed to my Motorola phone and said, “you can’t pull that out when you’re at Apple. You need their phone.”

She was right.

The first picture I took with the phone was of Maggie.

Elena had been dead for more than a year. Unbelievable.

That picture of Maggie is still my lock screen image on my phone. I love that picture.

My background picture is of Kim and Maggie from the Shaker Heights marching band trip to Turkey. It’s the two of them at Ephesus.

I was lucky enough to be at the keynote where Steve Jobs introduced us to the iPhone.

If I wanted to send the simple message “Hello” on my Motorola phone I had to press a lot of buttons. You had to press the 4 button many times to get an upper case “H”. The 4 button was g, h, i, G, H, I. Typing a message with the phone took time.

There were so many innovations that are now just expected.

When I used to listen to my phone messages on the Motorola I had to press all sorts of buttons to move forward to the one that I wanted. Until the iPhone we couldn’t glance down at our messages and select the one we want. Heck, now we can even see a beta transcript of the call and see what it’s about without listening to it.

I loved Jobs presentations.

He really was one of a kind.

After his presentation we wandered over to the show floor to catch up with friends and to see what the vendors were offering.

In the middle of the floor was a glass case with an iPhone inside and guards standing nearby.

People crowded the case all day. You couldn’t get near it.

People pushed up close just to see it. Others stood even closer to get a picture of it.

These were the old days. They had to use cameras. You couldn’t take pictures with your phone.

I was working with Duncan on a project for Apple business featuring some of developers. I recorded interviews with them and Duncan took their pictures.

At the end of the day the show floor was closing and we headed for the door.

“Hang on,” he said and reached for his camera.

There were only a few people around the glass case with the iPhone.

Duncan didn’t wait for them to move on. He didn’t wait for the area to clear. He didn’t move in too close. He didn’t avoid the reflections of the glass case.

I watched him frame what became the iconic picture of the iPhone display.

The story wasn’t just the device. It was the device on display in the case and the looks on the faces of the people as they pressed close to check it out.

Then and at other times Duncan taught me to look.

Then he taught me to look again.

Sometimes you don’t see the story when you first look at something. Sometimes the story is contained in the faces of the other people looking. Sometimes the story reveals itself when you get close, far, high, low, or shoot til you don’t notice you’re taking the pictures anymore.

Look.

Then look again.

Published in: on January 9, 2017 at 3:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

The One

Last week I told Kim’s sister about the only time that Kim and I had “fixed” someone up.

Against my better judgement I’d invited a friend of mine from a radio station to meet with Kim and a friend of hers.

“It’ll be fun,” Kim said.

It wasn’t.

It was painful and instructive.

Of course Kim had been right. The two people were perfect for each other.

On the other hand, they just didn’t see it.

“What do you like to do?” one would ask.

The other would answer, “I love to hang out in coffee shops.”

The first one would say, “Oh, I love to hang out in coffee shops too.”

Then they’d just look at each other uncomfortably. Neither would say, “we should hang out in a coffee shop together some time.”

It went on like that for forty-five minutes.

At one point Kim and the woman went off to the ladies room.

I sat with my friend and asked him what was wrong.

“She’s just not my type,” he said. “She’s not ‘the one.'”

He and she had agreed on every topic that had come up. They had the same likes and dislikes. They were each other’s type in every way but physically.

It turned out Kim had had a nearly identical conversation with her friend in the ladies room.

They came back. Everyone said goodnight. These two people who were lonely and so compatible went back to their separate lives and let this opportunity slip.

Kim and I drove home and compared notes. We didn’t really understand.

Kim and I weren’t each other’s physical types. With no offense intended to her former boyfriends, she tended to like men who were big and dumb looking. I tended to like women who were dark and Mediterranean.

That said, once we were together we were together. A woman would walk by and Kim would point her out saying, “she’s your type”. Not to be mean or jealous – so I wouldn’t miss her. I would do the same.

Neither of us were threatened or jealous. We just weren’t each other’s default physical type.

And yet, nobody was more beautiful, cuter, huggable, … than Kim. She was “the one.”

Actually, Kim and I didn’t believe there was only one person in the world for you. We didn’t believe in a canonical “the one”.

We believed you find someone that you mesh with, are attracted to, and fall in love with. Through that love and commitment you make them “the one.”

This summer Kim and I stood in the kitchen one morning drinking coffee and talking.

Man, I miss those talks. I miss her voice. I miss the banter. I miss the shorthand – not having to say everything. We just knew.

It’s those small things. Just hanging out in the kitchen talking and drinking coffee.

Anyway, that day she was talking about some of her girlfriends from work. They’re cute, smart, have good jobs, and they just can’t find someone nice.

“Don’t you know anyone?” she asked.

I remembered that evening twenty years before and asked, “We don’t have to be there, do we?”

“We could,” she said then saw the look on my face, “but we don’t have to.”

I suggested some names. She rejected each. Some, she acknowledged, would be perfect but no.

I looked at her and said, “thank God I’ll never have to date again.”

She smiled and said, “me too honey.”

I always assumed I’d die first. Kim’s family tends to live longer than mine. I figured she’d be the hot widow in the old age home when she was ninety.

Kim had almost married another man years before I met her. She’d dated a bunch of guys. She never said “I could have married” one of them or “I should have married” one of them. I don’t think she ever thought that.

We know people who say that all the time to their spouses. It makes me uncomfortable.

Kim is the one I married. From that moment on there are no others.

She was “the one” for me.

I’m so grateful she made me “the one” for her too.

A friend took me aside before my wedding and told me there would be a moment where I would turn to see Kim enter the church and the rest of the world would disappear. All I would see was her. It would be like a tunnel from me to her.

It was true.

From that magical moment to the day she died she was the center of my world.

She was “the one.”

 

Published in: on January 1, 2017 at 9:55 am  Leave a Comment  

Round Midnight

I was doing ok til everyone left.

Not that they should have stayed. They would have left at some point.

Just me and the dog and she just won’t settle down.

She keeps jumping up.

I’m no sure what she wants. I let her out. I let her in. She paces. I let her out again.

Finally, I’ve had enough. I sit down to watch TV for a while and wait til midnight. Wait til 2017.

There’s a horrible crash and the dog is running around with something in her mouth. I pull the dog treats from her mouth and see that she’s pushed two serving dishes off the buffet in order to get to the treats.

I push her out so she doesn’t cut herself.

I get a broom and a dust pan. It’s 1120. I’ve washed all of the dishes, scrubbed the pans, and now I’m sweeping up broken china.

It’s not the New Year’s Eve I imagined.

It was pretty good til everyone left. But at some point they would have left and I’d still be here. Alone in the house on New Year’s Eve or early New Year’s Day.

I saw in so many New Year’s with Kimmy.

We looked forward to another year together doing fun things, silly things, serious things – just things.

I finish sweeping up and take the bag full of broken plates out to the trash cans in the garage so the dog doesn’t hurt herself digging around in the kitchen trash can.

No sense in yelling at her. She’s moved on.

I check Facebook.

I don’t know why. But I do.

My friend Monika posts, “Another New Year’s Eve without Chuckie. I thought it would get easier, but I was wrong…”

It’s not what I want to hear. Monika is a year ahead of me with loss.

I check the page of one of Kim’s friends. She more years ahead of me and has posted a picture of herself and two friends out having a good time.

Maybe Monika and I are that many years away.

I don’t know.

I never minded not going out.

When I used to work in radio I had to go out most New Year’s Eves. It was a working night.

For so many years I’ve been happy to spend the night home with Kim and another couple.

They came over tonight. Except for the Buckeye’s loss, the night was great as always. There’s nothing like old friends.

But eventually, they were going to have to leave.

For the last twenty some years, we’d say goodnight to them, then Kim and I would go upstairs to bed.

Oh look – it’s midnight right … now.

I didn’t expect it to matter. New Year’s Eve has never really mattered to me.

I’ve been alone on New Year’s Eve before – but it was different.

This year’s alone feels alone.

I hear fireworks and gun shots and it’s now 2017.

My first date with Kim was twenty-five years ago this month. I think I was already looking forward to it on that New Year’s Eve.

This is the first New Year’s Eve in a quarter of a century where Kim is no where in my future.

I’m not real happy about that.

I’m heading up to bed.

The dog looks up at me.

“Come on,” I say to her, “Happy New Year Annabelle.”

 

Published in: on January 1, 2017 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment