Tomorrow, I’m driving down to the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, VA, to spend the Thanksgiving holiday and weekend with my family.
I remember Katie saying once that Thanksgiving was her favorite holiday. I ran this by Judy the other day, but she didn’t remember Katie ever telling her the same thing. Judy did learn, at Cathy Ganz’s wedding, that Katie and Dayna swam across the Mississippi River after their college graduation. I had never heard that story, but it was a great one. Maybe one of the nice things about grief is that you get to piece together all of the spaces in-between what you already know about a person. Or, maybe you just make it up?
Favorite or not, Katie liked Thanksgiving for all the expectations, commercialism, and drama it lacked relative to other big holidays. Thanksgiving is also the first time that Katie met my family. Flying back from Daegu, Korea, where we stayed with a friend for three weeks after being evacuated from Bangladesh, then Thailand, in 2001, we landed in Atlanta and spent a week with the family. I wouldn't be telling the whole story if I didn’t mention that I orchestrated a practical joke that Thanksgiving Day, when I convinced Katie that my family held an annual talent show and she consequently juggled. It was an incredibly insensitive thing to do, and I have no idea why I thought it would be clever. Well, I do, but still it was a lesser personal moment. Katie made some angry phone calls to members of her own family shortly thereafter, but being a far better person than me, let it go and we had a nice first holiday with my family.
Leaving Atlanta to head back to Chicago, Katie gave me two Thanksgiving gifts: a pumice stone, for the nasty calluses I’d built up on my feet all those months in Tangail, and a short poem, Scrambled, by Bruce Lansky. It was the first of many non-holiday gifts that I received from Katie, which would come at the most unexpected times. I remember thinking it was a good sign that she would give me a poem. I also remember realizing, much later, what a huge gift it was that Katie wanted to spend Thanksgiving with my family, given the traditions she so enjoyed being a part of at Michelle’s house, with the extended Garwood/LaPlante clan.
Thank you for the time, attention, cell phone minutes (upon cell phone minutes), late-night and early-morning IM exchanges, sympathy, physical space, patience, understanding and compassion, especially these last five months. Writing this blog, and knowing it is read, is helpful for me, because writing is the best way I know to make sense of things right now.
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.