A big feelings stew

August 31, 2017

(Originally posted on my old personal blog, Adventures with KHill!)

I’ve thought about what to write on so many different occasions, and there just aren’t words that fit. But writing is cathartic, even if the words aren’t perfect, so I feel like trying. The past couple of months have probably been the most challenging of my life, and certainly in the lives of many people I love. We’ve had to say goodbye to a very close loved one, one of the best people I’ve ever known, my sweet boyfriend’s father. I don’t have the words to do him justice quite yet, but I am so lucky to have known and loved him and will always be grateful for his life.

My own life since the end of June has been a kind of alternate reality, and I’m not sure that things will ever feel the same sort of “normal” that they were before. For most of those weeks, things bounced around varying degrees of dismal to hopeful. There was a lot of time to prepare for the goodbye, but in the end, I don’t know that you can be prepared. The loss feels just as sudden, just as heavy, just as painful. It doesn’t make any sense and it’ll never seem fair or right. I grieve on my own, but I grieve even more for the man I love more than anything who lost his father, and for the other loved ones who lost their husband, son, uncle, friend. It still feels impossible.

At the same time, I feel thankful. So thankful that I got to know and love this man over the past six, too-short years, and that he and his wonderful wife produced the incredible son whom I get as a life partner. Thankful for their family, who have endured more pain and loss in the past five years or so than any family should have to in a lifetime, and still give out so much love and light. They’ve treated me like one of their own and let me in for the best and worst moments, and I have so much admiration for how strong, resilient, and loving they all are. I obviously think Stephen is the best person ever (evidenced here, or probably in most any interaction you’ve ever had with me), and it’s clear how much his sweet family shaped him.

I’m also so thankful for my own parents - all four of them - who took care of my plane tickets, who let me come back to live in my childhood bedroom for seven weeks, who made sure I ate and slept and took time for myself through everything. Thankful for my siblings - all five of them, plus one dog and one in-law - for providing laughter, comfort, cuddles, barbecue ribs shipped from Memphis to my boyfriend’s family, all-day Netflix binges of ridiculous teen dramas, and literal shoulders to cry on. Thankful for my entire extended family - parents, siblings, grandparents, aunt, uncle, cousins - for traveling up to six hours to come to the funeral and give Stephen and me hugs. I still get emotional thinking about seeing them all there and how much that meant to me. Thankful for my friends for really showing up, whether in person bearing Qdoba burritos or through endless messages, cards, phone calls, and even donations with specific instructions to go on an ice cream date.

I haven’t felt like any of this is about me or how I was/am doing. All I’ve wanted is to be there for my partner and his family and do or be whatever they need. But the people in my life have made an effort anyway to let me know that I can be struggling, too, and I have a whole team waiting for me to say there is anything at all that I need. I didn’t have the ability to think about it much while I was home, but as I look back now, I am so humbled and appreciative. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to properly convey my gratitude or love for you all, but I hope that you feel it.

Coming back to our life in Seattle has been very strange, and Stephen and I agree that the contrast can make it feel like those two months at home were an awful dream. Grief comes at different times in a lot of different forms; I’m not sure that I buy the whole linear stages of grief model. It feels more like a big stew of all the feelings put together and different days taste like different things - sadness, anger, disbelief. I know that time heals, though, at least a lot more than the well-intentioned platitudes that we’ve all heard in person or read in Hallmark cards. (If those are healing for others, that’s cool too, of course! Just not for me.) So we wait, and grieve, and hug our friends and family close, and try to figure out what life looks like from here on out. We (Stephen and I) also eat a lot of junk food in our tiny apartment, go on walks, watch stupid youtube videos, make each other laugh when things are dark or when they’re not and gosh, I’m so thankful to have him.

I don’t have any book recommendations for this post, but I may make a big list to post sometime soon because throughout this process I’ve also felt SUPER grateful for books. I have read a lot in the past couple of months and the escape books provide has been a blessing (though I acknowledge that I may use the distraction of reading to keep me from healthily dealing with real feelings - working on that…) Anyway. I firmly believe that books are important and can be therapeutic at all times, whatever you’re going through.

I guess I just want to finish this up by saying hi, yes, I’m here. Life is very hard and does not make sense sometimes. There is so much going on in the world that my own experiences often seem insignificant, but I also think that it’s okay to curl up in your bubble and feel the things you need to feel at times like this. I’m trying to let myself do just that and help my favorite person to do the same. I appreciate the people in my life and all they’ve done for me, this summer and always, more than they will ever know. And like my man Walt Disney said, we’re going to keep moving forward.

P.S. I took up cross stitching in my free time at home. It's addictive.
P.S. I took up cross stitching in my free time at home. It's addictive.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love you, I love you, I love you.

Kaitlyn

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