Katie Oldham's Journal
A Loving Farewell
Written Dec 19, 2012 3:17pm
I have always said that this blog would not last forever and I think that it is time, finally, to say a final and loving farewell. This Caring Bridge site chronicles a chapter of my life so precious and dear to me and it has been calling to me for some time now. Not to continue offering new topics and further family updates, but to quietly bid farewell. To wrap the words with a bright red Christmas bow and allow it to stand on it's own as Stella, Evelyn and I venture into the waters of our new family's future.
Finally I can authentically say that some days I see a strange 'completeness' in the family that I have. Instead of a deep dark hole where Kevin belongs, there is a bright shiny love and admiration for who he IS (not was) in our lives today. I finally feel certain that his presence in our lives is perminant, real and so very influencial that it will never dissipate, as perhaps I feared until recently. While there are still many moments of lonely tears and single-parent frustration, I do believe the three of us comprise a complete (although very different) family. And I think that would make Kevin proud! We are finding our way slowly but surely.
I am beginning to know who I am and I continue to pray that God's loving hands form our family into what we are supposed to be...and me into the woman and mom I was meant to be. Clearly, I am NO different than any other adoring parent or loving spouse. I have simply had experiences that many other young moms have not and I am willing to trust and have faith in God's perfect, infinite plan despite my limited human understanding....and, well, I happen to feel compelled to 'talk'! Because of that, I have chosen a next chapter in which to share myself online with a prayer that I might give just one person hope, inspire one person to live better or make one person think again about the blessings abounding on this side of heaven. There is a blog and a Face Book page. www.katieoldham.blogspot.com and www.facebook.com/missfitkatieoldham if you feel compelled to visit me.
But as far as the Caring Bridge goes, it has been a place to share, vent at times and to create a history for Stella and Evelyn. So, my message to them: Here my sweet darlings, are pieces of the heart of the family that you were born into. You were born of love, committment and faith. You were welcomed into the arms of a Mommy and a Daddy who not once took your little lives for granted...you were wanted, adored and loved beyond measure the day that you were born and you are still so completely cherished. Know that your parent left here to raise you vows to always do the very best she knows how for you and that you are my absolute bliss. I will restate the prayer that your Daddy used to pray (he said it frequently and his own hand wrote it in a journal for you), 'God, please protect the hearts of these little girls every day of their lives. Give them health, love, patience and above all give them faith.'
This has been a place where I have felt safe, welcome, encouraged and incredibly supported. That is thanks to anyone who took the time to read, write or utter a prayer.....so, with a huge smile and a heart filled with gratitude I say: THANK YOU!!
Part of me feels sad to officially stop here. But another part or me feels relieved and excited that I feel it is the right time.
Blessings and Merry Christmas to anyone who might see this!!
With all my Love and Appreciation,
Kevin's 35th Birthday
Written May 19, 2012 5:57am
May 19 has been a special day marked on my calendar, engraved in my brain since I was 15 or 16 years old. It’s Kevin’s birthday! Today would have been his 35th. Kevin would have been 35 years old today and we would have been celebrating from waking up to a nice breakfast, his favorite foods thru the day, a dessert that made him do his spin and kick move, maybe a picnic or fishing, perhaps a bon fire in the back yard, topping it off with a few celebratory beers. (We liked to make a big deal of things…especially of birthdays!) Whatever it would have been this year, it would have been made so much more special by the girls delivering some adorable project that we would have made for him and his overdone but genuine praise to them. And simply spending the Saturday together as a family would have made the day (which I am certain that would have meant on Sunday he would have been out fishing after church with Mark or another one of his fishing partners in crime--that was usually a fair comprimise!).
But instead, Kevin is celebrating in heaven, in a place where the number of years doesn’t matter and the food is better than any I could prepare and the fish are bigger and more fun to catch than any in the lakes he fished here. Happy Birthday, Babe…..Happy Birthday, Daddy! We love you and we are celebrating with you. Today we too will cook, let balloons go into the skies, even do a little fishing in the pond with Mark and his family and then perhaps come back for a bon fire in the back yard. Yep, it is a day that we look to you for the kind of fun that we choose! Thank you so much leaving us with these wonderful ways to spend a day together as a family.
My heart still longs for our family to be together, for Kevin to talk to after I put the girls to bed, for him to be on the other end when my phone rings, to have his input on any number of issues from parenting to finances to friends and for him to simply be sitting on the other side of the kitchen counter on a stool as I cook dinner. There are even still days that I accidently dial his cell number or feel as if I can ask him where he put something or how I am supposed to hook something up.….takes a long time for second nature to fade I guess. But the difference between now and a year ago is that now, when those moments pass, they don’t drive me crazy or perpetuate the dense sometimes depressing fog that I was wading through last year (of which I was mostly unaware). Now they are moments creating feelings of anywhere from deep, deep sadness to, on a rare occasion, even a secret smile because I know just what Kevin would have said or done just then. I miss, I mean, I really long for Kevin. But, now time and the realness of his absence allow me to feel what really missing him is like. Before I don’t know if I understood what missing him meant because I couldn’t even begin grasp the idea of my family or future without him.
Over the last year, the girls and I have grown up a lot and in celebration of Kevin's birthday, I should mention a little about how we have grown since we know he is already perfect, right? Yes, I too, have made leaps as I illuded to above. In fact, I might be the equivalent of about 65 years old instead of 34! Stella, though, my little long haired sensitive, spunky one doesn’t miss a beat. She is thoughtful, expresses her affection readily and understands so much more than I sometimes give her credit for. She is wise and she has faith like her Daddy did—I remember a time when they were praying before bed and he told her the most important thing she could ever know is that God lives in her heart and he was touching her heart as she intently looked into his eyes. And she knows that; her greatest lesson from Daddy. Evelyn…need I say more? That funny little thing is adorable, feisty, she catches on QUICK and I promise that she will not be left behind….in anything. She loves to sing and dance and comes up with the funniest things to say. She is smart and she gives the BEST hugs just like Kevin did! He used to say to me, ‘just like a puzzle’, when we were hugging and I thank God that Kevin left the ability to hug like putting a puzzle together to her!
There is just too much to say and too much to try to capture in words on a day like today. Bittersweet might begin to encapsulate the entire sense of this day. I am so thankful; filled with gratitude for the moments we had and all the blessings Kevin left with us. I am overflowing with appreciation for who Kevin was and IS to me and for the life he built with me. But, I am heavy hearted for the loss and impossibility to live this life with him by my side. He made life more colorful, vibrant, exciting and even sometimes unconventional. But, he also carried with him a sense of humbleness in who he was yet confidence in what he believed in. He was a passionate person who truly lived every moment of his life. He allowed himself to feel his emotions to the fullest and also had the ability to express them in a way that many people guard against their whole lives.
So, May 19 will always hold such special meaning to us…it is the day that God put Kevin on earth to live out his life and be such an integral part of how we live and love. In ways I think that he just might be more a part of who I am today than he was when he was here. Sad, yet happy, funny and almost relieving… strange how we can learn so much when we take a minute to step back. Happy 35th Birthday, Babe!
Written Mar 11, 2012 8:56am
I wrote the below (in italics) about 6 or 7 weeks ago. That’s when I started anticipating how I would feel on the anniversary of Kevin’s death. Those memories crept up slowly until the anxiety of reliving that pain hit a high point and those are the times when I feel like I am starting all over. That’s when I feel like everything that I have learned is lost and it’s all for nothing. But, as I immerge from that, already now, I realize that it is the breaking and suffering that shoves me to the next sand bar. So this time as I struggle through the moments marking Kevin’s last days, as with each milestone, I know based on the history of this year that I will come out having learned a little more and perhaps a little stronger in order to face the next obstacle.
So I hope that when my friends start sensing my anxiety in the pitch of my voice or my neighbors see me foolishly going for a jog in the torrential winds or I stop returning emails and text messages they know that I am healing. Because at our most broken and most pitiful state is when God can give the strength and courage we need. So, I guess if I have anything to offer, it is simply to say with an open and broken heart, that when you face challenges (even those you stomp and scream at) do it with open arms. Because when it is over, you will know who you are and a little more about who God wants you to be. We spend all our time wishing away pain and praying for an easy, healthy life. But, when the contrary rears its head in our lives there is, ironically, a way to embrace suffering.
In the last couple of weeks I have been trying to properly thank all of my friends and family who have been such rocks for me this past year. But, there is no way. Now as I write in this journal on the day that Kevin went to heaven last year, I realize again that there is so much gratitude due. I treasure every single one of you who has read this journal, lent a thought or a prayer for my family. I wish I had more to give back to each and every one of you. But all I have and all I have had on this entire journey has been words. It’s like sitting down to my own piano when I write. Sometimes the music makes no sense at all! I have gone back and read some or my jumbled mess thinking, ‘was I crazy then?!’. The answer is, ‘Welllll…..yes.’ But, it’s okay; I own that crazy! I just hope at other times, I have been able to use words in a way that justifiably expresses my sincere thanks and faith in a way that has been meaningful in some small way.
Now I will insert a small part of what has been in my heart the last few weeks as I recall every detail of that last week Kevin and I had together…and more so today:
It has been a year. In disbelief I say that it has been a year since my husband, my best friend, the highschool sweetheart that I had, the crazy young man, the unique and many layered man of faith that I had has been in heaven. He was my favorite person. He was my husband and the lovingly energetic and protective Daddy to Stella and Evelyn. He was my partner, my confidant, my strong guy who took care of us, he was my grounds keeper, my fix it guy (well, most of the time!), my jokester and my tender hearted, sensitive, big strong man. When we got married he said that he didn’t consider himself a ‘man’ because he didn’t feel he had earned that title. I argued that point. But I am certain that my MAN was able in his last days in hospice to consider himself a man.
Last year on this day, I waited. I waited ALL DAY, praying with Kevin as he was unconscious in bed, for the Lord to take him home to is feast that awaited him in heaven. I can feel the room around me. I can sense his presence. I can recall so clearly the conversations about Kevin’s unchanging vital signs with the nurses. I can taste the food I ordered for dinner that night. I can so vividly recall writing my caring bridge post on the evening on March 11. I ended that day with this:
Then I read that verse to Kevin twice. I stood, went to the bedside, kissed him, held his hand and told him I would be right back. I was just stepping out to make a phone call. I was wearing black stretch pants and a sweater. I walked with my phone into one of the family rooms across the hall and off to the left. I sat, pulled my knees up and dialed. I talked for a few minutes when the nurse found me and told me that it was time…..she nodded at me without a word and I hung up the phone. She quietly said ‘he’s gone’. Kevin had waited until I left the room to die. He heard the right words, words from his Creator’s book, the Creator whom he would meet in just moments, waited for me to leave him and he passed. I was cold. But, my very first emotions were such intense relief that I could have fallen to the floor. It was as if I was SO PROUD of him for dying! I walked to him and I can remember saying, ‘oh honey…I am so proud of you. You were perfect’…over and over. The nurse told me how it happened—there was no big breath, no struggle, no signs. He simply passed. Then, she left us. I sat by Kevin…or his body that used to contain HIM; that used to contain who he was, his soul, his personality, his life. I paced. I looked around and out of needing to do something I started collecting the items that adorned the room, photos, notes, my laptop, my clothes and personal items from having been there for the previous 10 days. As I did that, I called Kevin’s Mom and Dad to tell them to come. I called my Mom to tell her I would be home that night. And shortly after I called a friend to come and get me to bring me home.
Moments went by. I talked to Kevin and to God. I can tell you now that I hadn’t even an inkling of what had truly happened to my life and my heart. I was just proud of Kevin, I was thankful for God’s grace and mercy and I felt some type of relief that Kevin no longer had pain or struggle with cancer. Before I left that room for one last time, I removed Kevin’s wedding ring with shaky hands. I don’t recall everything from that point to the time that I was in the car of the dear friend who picked me up. She had tea for me. She drove me 45 minutes home. She walked me in, helped me with my things and passed me off to my Mom. I was up only a short while before I checked on my babies who I had not seen much of that week, went to my room, to OUR bed and slept. Yes, I slept.
So on this day last year, that is what happened. Kevin died at 9:15pm on March 11. 3/11/11….Kevin’s heavenly birthday. I want to celebrate! Certainly that is what God does when He welcomes home His children. I want to celebrate today that Kevin is where he is perfect, strong, energetic, vibrant and probably outdoes his own sense of humor every day! This was the most important day of his life…..his death. I have to believe that if Kevin knew how to live, I mean really LIVE, here on earth, that his heavenly eternal life is multitudes more magnificent than even his best day here. That is something to be celebrated!
I know that. And I am comforted by that.
But alongside that, I am left here missing him. This year has been a struggle to say the least. So many are comforted when they see the girls and I because we ‘are doing so well.’ Oh…if my walls could speak. That’s the truth. But, God never once promised an earthly life of fairness, equity, peacefulness, a life of perfection void of suffering and struggle. He promised an eternity of that.
So, on March 11, 2011 Kevin began his eternity. That was the real beginning for him. That’s why I like to think of this date as Kevin’s heavenly birthday. The day he went to heaven. He has been there a year. ………….. in the blink of an eye………….that’s a phrase that Kevin and I repeated to each other in his last week while in hospice when either of us got scared. This life would be like the blink of an eye until eternity begins and in heaven it would be in the blink of an eye until Kevin’s reunites with us.
As time continues to pass us by without regard for my need to press either pause or fast forward at times, this life continues. I measure Kevin’s heavenly birthday in time…it has been one year. But time doesn’t matter. It’s just what we do with it. And I can still say, ‘Kevin, I am so proud of you! You worked so hard, you were perfect and it’s time to rest.’ It was those words, almost exactly, that I spoke to him when we were making the decision to officially start ‘hospice treatment’. Tears of relief poured down his face. He said that me saying that was the greatest gift I have ever given him…his permission to rest and go home to heaven. So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY KEVIN!! We love you from here! I am teaching Stella and Evelyn about you all the time. Your face smiles at us from pictures and your words ring in our ears. You are in us…..especially in crazy little Evelyn who acts like you (I must say, frustratingly at times)! Our memories will stay with us ALWAYS…especially every time Stella gazes at the sky and says, ‘love you Daddy!’ or, ‘Mommy, Daddy was such a nice man.’
Thank you God for giving us Kevin for as long as you did. And thank you for taking him home. Amen!
One year. We made it. We crossed not the finish, but the starting line. And here we go……..
My journal entries have been getting fewer and further between. I never intended to update frequently forever. But as I wean away and likely will only use this journal for more specific information (like the next Mohawk Less Cancer fund raiser, for example), I just want you to know that in this first year of my life on earth without Kevin, you have all planted footsteps in our progress. Thank you so much. Every part of this, beginning until this point, will be a part of the history that Stella and Evelyn will read to learn about their Daddy’s courage, faith and love for life and for them. And they will see how we began to heal as a family.
Love, Peace and God’s Blessings,