the week i ate moonpies for supper

Katie died on a Monday morning and by the next Monday Lilycat was very sick.

I almost think I don't need to say more.  That it should be obvious I needed something stupid and comforting and quick to eat, something that would take me back to my childhood. And maybe that's all that is needed.  At least about the moonpies.  Maybe.

But right now it's Sunday afternoon late, and I'm sitting in my office, Lilycat still sick, though she managed to sip some water this morning, and eat a few treats.  I cancelled the weekend trips to the vet, and chose instead to just stay close, to talk sweetness to her, to cajole and beg and pray. I want her back to her Lilycat self.  And I think that's what all this is about.  The power to do something.

This time.


There towards the end, we missed shopping.  Not the spending of money, but the singing in the car as we drove from place to place, the rolling our eyes at stuff that just wasn't pretty, the girl company and giggles and deciding where we'd eat. The manager at Marshall's with always a smile on his face and a hug for Katie. The Target run-through that always took longer than we planned. The Ikea we never got back to. Checking the backsides of rugs because we always liked the backsides more than the fronts. The gossip. The complaining. The laughter laughter laughter.

On good days she'd come down for tv and movies, making herself as comfortable as possible on the floor, on rugs layered backside-up, big pillows to prop her up, white blankets. Skye cat always loved her better than me on those days and would lay next to her, head bumping her first to make sure Katie knew she was there. As if she didn't. Her husband would check in, bringing this hour's medicine, checking her temperature.

I kept small diaries about her - here, online, where I could type fast and get it out, and in 2 notebooks. Just small sentences so I wouldn't forget.

november 22:
she told me today, said it was worse than she'd thought, said she had X amount of time left, and then added that she'd changed her mind about not decorating for christmas, that she wanted to look for new lights, maybe tomorrow.  this could be the last christmas, she said.  we talked and we laughed and i made myself not cry when the nerves under my skin were trembling, because she didn't need any more of that.  her husband came in and sat behind her on the couch, taking her in his arms, and their dog scooched up close against her legs.  rainy daylight through the windows. a family portrait.


november 27:
she has so much anger, she told me.  i have no answers.  we are searching for a swear word that sounds gentle, that she can say with a smile, that won't scare the dog when she says it and some of that anger flies into the air.  i'm not sure such a word exists.

she's having night sweats and is in pain, ready to get the show on the road to see if the chemo will at least help with that.  she wanted cokes, so i took her some, and stayed, and after we talked for a while, we fell into laughing at the total absurdity of life. she is now at her aunt's house, thanksgiving-ing with her family, xanaxed and pain-pilled up.

the pear tree by the staircase has gone all golden and yellow
and begs to have its picture taken.
broken camera in hand, i do so, sun shining through the leaves.
it's funny how just a step up or a step down
changes your perspective on the world you see.


december 7:
sunday evening.
her baddest pain was some kind of infection, now mostly gone with the help of antibiotics, which, as antibiotics can do, are killing her appetite and making her belly feel bad.  she on-purpose missed one yesterday morning just so she could eat, and she could, even if only a bit, and she came downstairs and we watched silly family feud episodes all afternoon because steve harvey.  and then a movie and then it was night and the day was gone, but it had been one filled with laughter, with another friend who picked her up to feed her chick-fil-a, because at this point she needs to get down what she can with no guilt and no worries.

this afternoon i grocery shopped and bought her buttermilk (her mom's advice, which i served to her in a champagne glass, and which seemed to help) and added my own medicines - white tulips, ginger ale, animal crackers, ice from sonic.  her temperature was up again and she is continuing to lose weight.

tonight my gut is kicking a bit.  understandable.  it was a hard busy week and dealing with the lawyer re: getting my mother's house moved to our names is just as frustrating as i'd thought - though michael had made me feel i was worried over nothing, he was wrong. it's not a big thing, just a thing. it was a fibro week with christmas rushes, and i hurt, but it was not the way katie hurt; i kept comparing myself to that pain, and i was always the winner.

barkley cat has gone missing,
and though he drove me (and skye cat) crazy,
and i ran him off a thousand times, and wanted him gone, i worry.
i hope he is okay, that he has found a home


december 21, winter solstice:
i told sarah today and in her reply she said "Katie has always been like a star glimmering behind your words, a beautiful smile in the background, a bit of love. Sometimes when I'm reading your words I see the two of you sitting together in sunshine, and I think you are so lucky to have such a friendship".


2015. These words are in my notebooks and I haven't the heart to look just yet.  I found the above words from 2014 on my computer. i'd forgotten i was writing here.

january 18.  the cancer has spread - she knew before christmas and sat still with the knowledge, just she and robert.  the next step is oral chemo.  

june 16.  she & robert home yesterday from 3 weeks in arizona.  she felt bad the whole time, and made the decision to call it done. since i last wrote, she's been through ups & downs, a change in the type of oral chemo, moved her studio.  she was feeling bad when they left, and perhaps it was the altitude that made her feel worse, but she says she will talk to hospice on monday, before her appointment with the oncologist on tuesday.  i feel the jumpiness under my skin.  

while she was gone, michael had her car repaired and repainted - small damage from a falling limb months ago.  he feels the helplessness we all feel, the need to do what we can, which is different for each of us.  i cleaned the back porch, bought a new cushion for the old chair back there, looked in vain for plants for the empty pots. i meant to hang white lights, but she was home a day early, so it can wait.  it's hot, and there will be mosquitoes, so she'll probably use the porch less this summer, but still. you do what you can.  

i slept hard and dreamless last night.

september 2. she looks, at long last, like she is sick.  her face is the face of pain. and at last, at last, at last, we broke down together, sitting on the couch, holding each other close, crying. 

you have been a gift, i told her.   

this morning, awake at 3:30, i tossed in the bed for an hour before getting up.  now, almost 6, the news read, the weather watched, toast eaten, i am shaky.  my belly upset.  i type these words as her husband takes their dog for a walk, stopping first to see how i'm doing.  when i tell him i couldn't sleep, he says it was the same for them.

she was gone in 10 days. 
into the mystic.
farther than the moon, her husband tells me.


Katie Wintters Langham, aka the lovely, lovely katie
1971 - 2016  

photo above: a long ago conversation.
she in rainboots, me in flipflops.
texas weather.
do you see the tiny heart?

and the moonpies when? the week lilycat got sick.