Silver

I wanted to do something special for my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.

I know it seems silly… futile… quixotic… self-indulgent… – I don’t know what the right word is for celebrating a wedding anniversary when death did you part.

I knew the day would be difficult and I just wanted to fill it with something.

I’ve planned so many anniversary celebrations – where to go? what to do? what to give as a gift?

My favorite anniversary might have been the year I surprised Kim with a picnic of her favorite food from her favorite restaurant.

I’d arranged with her boss to fill up her schedule that afternoon with fake appointments so that she’d be completely free.

I showed up late in the day and Kim, Tara, and I headed out to the Case farm for a picnic. Just the three of us. Kim, me, and our two year old black lab on an extra long leash.

Perfect.

Yesterday, I checked the Lake View website and they allow dogs so long as you clean up after them.

Perfect.

Just after noon, I packed a picnic lunch and Annabelle and I jumped in the car. Ten minutes later we parked next to section 32.

I pulled a canvas chair and the picnic lunch from the trunk and led Annabelle over the grass. She’d never been there before but she behaved pretty well as I set the chair up in front of Kim’s grave.

It went much better than I’d expected.

Annabelle and I ate a picnic lunch and hung out a bit for a perfect twenty-fifth anniversary meal.

As I ate the cole slaw I thought of seven year old Sophie sitting in our house eating mashed potatoes during her visit just after Elena had died.

Our picnic was a twin homage – to our anniversary celebration and to Sophie’s memorial.

That was the where to go and what to do.

What to give as a gift?

It didn’t need to cost much – it never did. But it had to be special.

I’ve thought a long time about this over the last couple of weeks.

Then a couple of days ago I was up on the third floor looking for something and I saw a little film canister on my desk.

I don’t know that that’s the right word for it. But when cameras used film we used to take the roll and put it in this plastic container to be developed.

This one didn’t contain film.

It contained something I got twenty-five years ago today during our wedding ceremony.

I’ve told the following story before.

Sue me.

I wrote our wedding ceremony to include components from each of our traditions. I included explanations and stage directions.

In the passage where I described Kim’s dad walking Kim down the aisle and leaving her with me I noted that it wouldn’t be inappropriate for some amount of cash to be exchanged at this point.

Sure enough, on the day of the wedding, Tom reached out and pressed two pennies in my palm and whispered in my ear, “she’s been giving me her two cents all her life, now it’s your turn.”

When I got a chance later I looked more carefully at the pennies.

One was from 1960.

One was from 1993.

One from the year Kim’s life began.

One from the year that our life began together.

I’ve kept those pennies on my desk in a film canister ever since.

Just two pennies.

He didn’t clutter the story up with a penny for the year she graduated from high school or college.

Just two.

I thought of adding one for the year Maggie was born. One for the year Elena was born. One for the year Elena died. So many significant events.

Instead, for our silver anniversary I decided to add just two more pennies to the canister.

Just two.

One for 1997.

One for 2016.

One for the year Kim became a mother.

One for the year that Kim died.

I didn’t spend much on the gift. Just two cents.

Just two.

But that last penny cost me everything.

Happy 25th anniversary Kimmy.

 

Published in: on August 8, 2018 at 2:34 pm  Comments (1)  

Hang up

I met my friend Craig for coffee at Juma then headed to Oberlin to have dinner with my family.

I tell you this so you understand how I ended up traveling west on I-480.

I got on the highway at Warrensville, just as Kim did on the last trip she took.

I wasn’t on the highway very long before I noticed a car next to me that didn’t look right.

I took another look.

The driver was bent over the passenger seat looking at his phone. Just like the guy who killed Kim.

He wasn’t watching the road and his car was drifting into my lane. Just like the semi driver who killed Kim.

I checked the rear view mirror. I had room to brake so I did. I hit the brakes and the horn. He drifted into my lane where I would have been. Thankfully I was now several car lengths behind.

I don’t think he ever saw or heard me. I just know that he didn’t stop.

If he’d been driving a semi, like the guy who killed Kim, I wouldn’t have had room to move out of his way.

Today I could have died in the same stretch of road as Kim in the same way.

Please stay off your phone when you’re driving. You have no idea how many people have saved your life by reacting when you weren’t able to because you were on your phone.

Before you drive – hang up.

Once you’re driving – please, pay attention.

Published in: on August 5, 2018 at 8:12 pm  Comments (2)  

Just Us

So where are we now that the criminal case and the civil case have concluded?

On the one hand, the man who killed Kim spent no time in jail and paid us nothing.

On the other hand, would that have made a difference?

I don’t know.

The prosecutor certainly mishandled the case, but a criminal case isn’t between the victim and the accused so there really wasn’t anything we could do.

I never met the driver. I didn’t see the point.

He was on the phone when his semi drove into Kim’s car.

I’ve been advised to let it go.

Say we get the case opened. Say he goes to jail. Would it make a difference?

I don’t know.

I was upset the first time the trial went forward to see he was charged with a misdemeanor not a felony.

So I suppose the answer is “no”.

We did get a settlement from his insurance company.

Kim’s cousin represented us and got the maximum that his minimal insurance allowed. He got all there was to get.

It certainly wasn’t enough.

Not enough. But as my friend Steve said, would any amount have been enough? Say it was something absurd like ten million dollars. Would that have been enough.

No.

But this felt like too little.

It felt like too little because of all that Kim was to me, to Maggie, to her parents and siblings, to my parents and siblings, to co-workers, to friends …

She did so much for so many.

This wasn’t enough.

But it’s all there is. I’m grateful to the many that helped me get this much, to get through these cases.

I don’t know what I expected from the legal system in either of these cases.

This wasn’t enough.

I went to dinner and an outdoor concert last night with Kim’s brother and his wife. At one point the band played a Bill Wither’s cover and my eyes teared up and I thought of Kim.

I don’t know what was special about that song, about that moment, but I felt her with me.

Not in a creepy “I believe in ghosts” or religious way. I just felt her there beside me swaying to the song, kicking the back of my knees to get me to loosen up.

I don’t want to become one of those bitter old men who complain about the justice system.

Should the man who killed Kim have gone to jail?

Yes.

Would it change my life in any way?

No.

So there – let’s not speak of it again.

It would have been nice if the civil suit resulted in more money.

But it didn’t.

I’ll say one more thing about it, then we won’t speak of it again.

There was the moment when I went to the lawyers office and the young lady at the front desk handed me an envelope with the settlement check inside.

It was a moment where it was done.

Here’s the check – we’re done.

It was a very final moment.

I took the check to the bank and deposited it.

That was it.

In the eyes of the legal system, Kim’s life had been accounted for.

The civil and criminal cases were done.

I hope not to speak of it again.

It’s not enough.

But, it’s all there is.

 

 

 

Published in: on August 5, 2018 at 12:39 pm  Comments (1)