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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
do you see the tiny heart?
and the moonpies when? the week lilycat got sick.
do you see the tiny heart?
and the moonpies when? the week lilycat got sick.
I would recommend moonpies for you for at least a month or until you feel you are done with them. Top ramen is often my childhood comfort food. I loved reading this even though I can feel and see the pain and joy of the journey. The joy when the days are good. The pain when they're not and then the heart-wrenching how do repsond in knowing that she will be gone all too soon? My heart aches for all of you but also rejoices that the beautiful bond and friendship was there. Priceless.ReplyDelete
she left behind nothing but beautiful bowls and wonderful memories. she was full of joy and danced in the aisles of grocery stores with me and could always, always flirt her way with a waiter to make sure we got great service. she will be the sassiest angel in heaven. xoxoDelete
I have thought about what I will do if I lose my best friend of 35 years. I don't want to think of it, but as I age, it becomes something to think about although I don't want to. Shopping is our thing and it is something I'm sure I will desperately miss. Again, your words touch me. I'm sorry for your loss of this beautiful soul in your life.ReplyDelete
I smiled reading your comment - I think almost the last thing she said to me was how much she missed shopping. It's funny that the important things are the small things, the moments. It still feels strange going into Target all by myself. :)Delete
My heart breaks for you, there are no words. With love from Ohio. xxxReplyDelete
As Katie's husband has said, having the opportunity to see it coming down the road was helpful. She was ready, and that made it possible for everyone who loved her to be ready. Still hard, yes, but she left with love. xoxoDelete
A heartbreaking post written from the heart - my thoughts are with you - she sounded a very special lady and friend.ReplyDelete
I knew this would be sad. Would be hard. And I almost didn't post it. I almost didn't. I had to talk myself into it. Because it's about friendship more than heartbreak. Because the scales tip it that way. I hope. Thank you so much.Delete
I have no words. The joy comes through like the golden cracks in a mended broken pot. You and Katie's family are in my prayers.ReplyDelete
Here I sit, all these days later, trying to find the words to let everyone know how much I appreciate those prayers, how helpful they have been. I understand the having no words. It doesn't matter. We have love and memories.Delete
Im so deeply sorry for your loss. That empty hole will be hard to fill, but at least you had the gift of a wonderful, true based friendship. not all of us are that fortunate. i remember reading in your blog about your friendship with Katie and it sounded like a little piece of heaven. its so hard when people have to leave us and no matter than we know its coming...its still a punch in the gut. I will be praying for you, and it sounds like your Katie is flying high with those angels and at last in peace. Cancer is an evil wicked bitch. she takes everything and leaves haunting memories that linger forever, i know, i've lost a few people myself to her. once again, im so very sorry.ReplyDelete
It's taken a while to understand what a rare, wonderful friendship it was. Still is - I still talk to her all the time. :) Thank you for your words, and know that they helped - continue to help. We are doing well, all of us who loved her.Delete
I read this last night and cried the whole way through, and I'm crying again rereading it this morning. Cancer is one of the hardest ways to lose someone, perhaps the hardest of all. We were very lucky with my dad: he was never in pain, and his chemo side effects weren't nearly as bad as a lot of other people's. But it was still 6 years of terrifying seizures, radiation therapy and bizarre treatments, and that slow descent into death, pieces of him stripped away one by one. I wrote endless poems about it both during those 6 years and after he died, but now, 16 years after his death, I wish I had actually journaled about it instead of just cloaking my feelings in subjective imagery. The memories are painful, but precious, and it would be good to have a more reliable record than my fuzzy brain.ReplyDelete
You were so blessed to have Katie, and she was deeply blessed to have you. And that tiny heart in the photo... That's a blessing, too--and a blessing that you saw it. I believe that's the way the world works, that there are small, secret gifts left for us even in the darkest times. There was a huge double rainbow the day I buried my baby bunny, and another one the day Ollie told us she was moving to Idaho and we knew we had finally saved her. There were a hundred robins in my backyard the day I held the gun to my head, and they were the reason I stayed. (As were you and Kelly.) All those things are perhaps a bit more noticeable than that tiny heart, but they were also things I could have ignored or not recognized for what they were: messages of love and hope, gifts. We are never alone. <3
Ah, my dear friend. We have talked, have we not? You know the truth in my heart, you understand the small things. There was a cardinal in the cherry laurel tree a few days after her death. I stood on Katie's stairs and it looked me right in the eye. I always see signs in birds; it was another redhead, just like Katie. It stood still and do did I. I turned away first, and I could feel the smile behind me. xoxoDelete
I felt blessed to be able to read one of your posts again and I felt deeply the sadness but also the true friendship that we women cherish so much when we are lucky enough to have it. It must have been hard to write this but I do appreciate that you did and that you shared it here.ReplyDelete
I edited like crazy - I wrote so much more. I just reread it and it made me grateful I'd put it out there. When I need to know her laughter again, this post reminds me.Delete
There is so much grace and light in these words. And that little heart... that little heart speaks for itself. I need to do this too... keep a journal... even if it's a sentence or two, just so I remember. You will treasure all of those little things you wrote down, even the hard things, and they will keep Katie close to you, always.ReplyDelete
I've never had a moonpie... I'm not sure I know what one is, but I wish I knew.
love you xx
Yes, yes, yes. Just a sentence here and there. They add up to the truth.Delete
A moonpie. Nothing but sugar and junk. :)
I love you right back.