It's been 8 months since Katie passed away. Eight months this morning. I can feel her presence (in the way that I get to feel it nowadays), but I miss her presence the old way, the "right" way, having her here in our house, or at school, and knowing that she will be coming home to have dinner with us and do homework in the evening. She would have been finishing up her 7th grade year.
Her school classmates are putting her photo, and a brief tribute to her memory, in their section of the yearbook.
I like to wear her UCSB hat (from Phil), but I still feel that I should ask her permission. I've worn some of the shoes that she left to me (in her will), but I feel bad going into her closet and "borrowing" things without asking. It feels right to put them back in her closet. To me, it is still her room, and they are still her things. I even pause in her doorway before going in to her room, to ask permission to enter (that was VERY important to her), and I find myself talking to her when I'm in her room. I know that someday I will have to sort through her things, but I cannot picture the day when I will be able to do that.
David and I feel strongly that her room should still be the way she liked to keep it. Gregg is accepting how we feel about it. Her posters are in place, her window seat is full of stuffed animals and her dresser is loaded with "crap" -- that is, assorted treasures that she couldn't bring herself to put away or organize. It is a place that has the feeling of Katie's character, and we do not want to lose that feeling. David likes to do his homework in her room.
I still sleep with her blanket (the inspiration for the quilt project) when I feel the need. Sometimes I wear her "Juicy" t-shirts. She did enjoy her few "Juicy" things so much!
This morning, I looked at the photos that were taken of Katie after we were told that she was going to die. It was less than a month between the final diagnosis and her passing. Other than the wedding photos, which are wonderful, they are hard to look at, and she wouldn't want me to post them, so I won't. She was so very beautiful, and she knew it; it was hard on her, when her appearance changed from the way she liked to look. She had difficulty seeing her own beauty, after all that had been done to her body (we told her frequently how gorgeous she was, but she herself didn't like the changes). The extensive surgical scars, the bruises, the short, fine hairstyle, the NG tube, all got in the way of her self-image. To lose so much -- and at such a tender age -- is a hard adjustment to make. She got to be very clever and quick with "black humor" about it, and her remarks and quips became mature and powerful.
My parents returned from their winter home in the desert yesterday. I picked them up at the ferry and took them home. Their master bath remodel is finished, and taking them in there to show them the results for the first time was rewarding to me. They are thrilled with it, and that makes me happy.
Mom & Dad came over and brought Thai take-out for dinner last night. They had not seen the quilts in person yet, and they loved them; my mom is ready to go with me to the fabric store and "feel the joy." She is a generous financial contributor to the project, and doesn't sew, so I want to share the fun of the creative part with her. Twelve quilts are pinned and ready to sew; I have fabric, ready to pin together, for about 30 more.
I took a walk this morning, as I always do. I had a funny game of hide-and-seek with an otter who tried to hide in a ditch. Since I got a new, gently-used camera yesterday (thanks to Diane W. and Sue K.), I was more aware than usual of the new colors peeking out from among the masses of different shades of green along the roadside. Our street has a bit of a wild streak, which we love, and things grow randomly along its verges. I saw purple, fuchsia, white, lavender, yellow, pink and red flowers, a magnolia and a cherry tree. The trees reminded me of spring in the Laurelhurst neighborhood where I walked so often from Children's Hospital last year. There were lovely cherry trees all over that area, and magnolias dropping their beautiful and delicate blossoms on the sidewalk. I recall looking at the magnolia petals on the sidewalk one day, and thinking of their beauty -- and the fleeting nature of their existence. They bud, they bloom, they make a beautiful scene, and they drop to the ground and die, having accomplished their purpose. I remember that I stared at them and wondered if I was supposed to take a message from them and connect it to Katie -- to all of our lives. I didn't like the thought, but I remember it.
See, this is a great example of how my life works right now: start with the loss of Katie's presence, and go through the feelings of the moment. Move into what is going on in the present, and look! Here's a bit of joy. And still, no Katie. This is my life now.