Obvious

I don’t know why I didn’t expect to be so upset this morning.

I guess I figured that by the time Kim actually died a year ago today, it was clear that she had passed.

But today was the actual day that she died.

On that day, Maggie made two requests of me.

My first instinct was to ask what her mother had said – but, of course, if her mother could have answered her we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

Parenting without Kim is so very different.

She was just so smart about so many things.

She knew when Maggie was talking back that she wasn’t angry, she was hungry. She’d have Maggie eat a snack and the moment would pass.

So Maggie told me she wanted to be there when they turned off her mother’s machines. And she told me she wanted to be there alone – she didn’t want me down there.

It felt so important to her – I said “yes”.

I asked that she take a friend down to the hospital with her – someone who could be with her and drive her home afterwards. She agreed.

There’s no sense in second guessing things, but I have no idea if that was the right answer or the wrong answer.

I think Kim would have said “yes” but she might have said “absolutely not”.

She might then have looked at me and asked, “what were you thinking?”

So a year ago today, Maggie went down to the hospital in the middle of the night and waited for her mother to die.

I lay in bed with the dog next to me – awake all night.

The nurse had promised to text me to tell me what happened with the organ donation. She promised to tell me when Kim was actually dead. She promised to keep an eye on Maggie.

She did all of that.

The nurses in the unit were just amazing. The nurse called me in tears to tell me that Kim had passed and that Maggie had left for home. She told me a little about the night before.

And so when my brother called me this morning to check on me I thought, “I don’t know why I didn’t expect to be so upset this morning.”

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Crying,” I said.

“Me too,” he said.

I still think that Kim was killed on August 19th, but she died three days later.

She died a year ago today.

Today was just awful.

What did I expect?

 

Published in: on August 23, 2017 at 4:08 pm  Comments (5)  

The Passive Voice

We’re taught not to use the passive voice and yet it wanders past us – like in that phrase right there – without us noticing it.

You have to notice how words are used. Your ears have to be tuned to hearing when the conversation is being shaped because it’s so easy to make little adjustments that change everything.

I was listening to the radio on my way to meet a friend for coffee and the announcer turned to his next guest for a comment. The guest started by saying he was clearly out-numbered. It was true. He was the only member of the panel that was there to take up the side of the KKK and the Nazi’s while cloaked in the less obviously offensive identity of a right wing response.

He was there to provide balance to the discussion – as if there are two sides to a story on the KKK and Nazis.

He talked about the alt-left as if there was such a thing and the host and other panelists began to use his language when they debated him.

He’d won.

He talked about how it was, of course, tragic that a woman had died – and then he paused and softened it to  – a woman had passed on, but there was responsibility on both sides.

There wasn’t. But that’s not what I noticed.

The host began to use the words died and passed on until another guest stopped him.

It could be that I’m particularly sensitive to the way we phrase these things.

A truck ran Kim off the road a year ago today.

I got a call from a social worker at the hospital telling me her arm had some severe damage. They didn’t tell me that the truck that had hit her had also caused a severe brain injury that would lead to her death.

It would be days before Kim passed on … days before she died … but she was killed a year ago today.

In one sense it doesn’t matter whether we use the passive or active voice. Kim would be dead either way.

In another sense, I think it’s important to note that Kim is dead because of the actions of another.

I remember rushing to the hospital and getting there just after her father. We met with the social worker just as they were taking Kim up to surgery.

By the time they were done with surgery, many of our friends and family had joined us at the hospital. We talked to the doctor who described the severe amount of damage caused by the accident. Ironically – I think that’s the right use of the word – had her injuries been less severe she would have died at the scene.

We sometimes choose to use passive words because it’s less accusatory – it’s more polite.

We sometimes choose to be passive because it’s easier – it’s more polite.

But it’s a choice.

We choose to speak passively.

We choose to be passive.

When we do, it shapes the world around us.

A year ago a truck driver changed lanes and ran into Kim’s car.

Her car spun out of control.

There was nothing she could do from that moment forward.

Her car spun across three lanes of traffic and someone who didn’t see her coming and who couldn’t avoid hitting her, hit her car and knocked her back under the truck that had hit her in the first place.

There’s nothing this second vehicle could have done differently.

Nothing.

I’m sure there’s a broader point to make about the world we live in.

About slowing down.

About being responsible.

About noticing that you’re sharing the road with others.

About the dangers that any of us can present to others if we are distracted or irresponsible.

About all that. But …

A truck ran Kim off the road a year ago today.

It would be days before Kim passed on … days before she died … but she was killed a year ago today.

Published in: on August 19, 2017 at 11:18 am  Comments (1)  

A Second First

Kim and I celebrated our first anniversary with her parents and my parents.

We’d wanted to spend it alone together but both knew that we’d not only married each other, each other’s family was part of the bargain.

So we all went out to dinner on the west side and finished by sharing a piece of our wedding cake that my mother had stored in the freezer for the first year.

Apparently, it’s a tradition.

A year ago if you’d asked me how long I’d been married I would have said what I always said – “23 years. 22 happy years and one not-so-happy year.”

People always assumed I meant the year after Elena died. That was a not-so-happy year but our marriage was a big part of what got Kim and me through that year.

Another big part was the families we’d gained when we got married.

The third big piece was, of course, the wonderful friend network that had woven itself around us and cocooned us as best it could. (I don’t know if cocooned is a word, but I’m pretty sure you can’t say it on the radio.)

No, as I’ve always said, our “not-so-happy” year was our first year together.

Most of it was great but there were moments when two, stubborn, eldest children who hadn’t married until they were in their thirties couldn’t step back and see how great our life was together.

We would get caught up on things that just didn’t matter.

So often the things that get in our way, just don’t matter.

We don’t have the sense to step over them and keep going.

It’s not enough that we’re right or that everybody is happy, we need to make sure the other person knows they’re wrong.

Why?

The other night we were over at Kim’s parents’ house for an early celebration of Maggie’s 21st birthday. My sister drove home. It’s a long drive and I like her to text me that she’s gotten home safely.

About an hour later I was in the basement with Kim’s brother and sister. Carolyn had just cut my hair and I was hanging out while she cut Tommy’s hair.

My watch tapped me. I glanced down and Jill had texted me that she was home safe. I texted back “Thanks.”

On my watch – magic.

A moment later Kim’s mom called down the stairs, “Your sister just texted me. She got home safely.”

In that first year of marriage I would have called back up, “I know. She already texted me.”

Why? Why would I do that? Why is it important to let her know that I got texted first? Why is it important to let her know I was texted at all?

It isn’t.

So I called up the stairs, “thank you.”

And meant it.

Kim’s mom had cared enough to ask my sister to text her. My sister had texted her. Kim’s mom had cared enough to tell me. Those are all things worth being thankful for.

So often we get caught up in credit. Things that just don’t matter.

Even though I say that our first year was rough – it mostly wasn’t. And besides we’d fixed it well before we got to the end of our first year.

We’d had “the talk” and knew we wanted to stay married to each other. We knew that we meant forever.

And so last year if I’d said “22 happy years and one not-so-happy year”, I was mostly joking. I might have said “22 good years and one not-so-good year”. I was still mostly joking.

I did know that each of the last five years had been better than the last.

So we spent that anniversary surrounded by family.

Now that Kim’s gone, I am thankful for my family and for hers. I’m thankful for that web of friends we have.

The only thing missing is Kim.

Really. I’m not lonely. I’m just Kim-less.

Today is our 24th wedding anniversary.

My first without Kim.

 

 

Published in: on August 8, 2017 at 12:37 pm  Comments (1)