The friday after I returned from Camp Dudley, my father got married…
In the days leading up to the wedding, I continued with my healthy grief recovery work. I had my second session with my counselor, Monica, that week. This time we talked about the ‘what ifs’:
“If only I had been there to save Kesner”
“Why didn’t I go inside when I left the groceries for him?”
“That wasn’t like me, we were always together…”
Monica turned the question around. She asked: “what if you had been there? Does that necessarily mean that he would be alive today?And if he did survive, couldn’t he have died sometime later when you weren’t around?”
I hadn’t considered these things. The circumstances were not in my control. Monica had done it again, she’d gotten me to think differently. If I had been there, would I have known what to do? Outside of calling 911, would I have known if his sugar was too high or too low? Would I have known to give him an insulin shot? Or a candy bar? Or to put an aspirin under his tongue? And what if he had lived, would he still be the same?
I mulled over these things all week. I also continued working with Roberto at SportSpine; and on off days from the gym, I went to Horseshoe Lake and I read. I read a short chapter of Eat Pray Love every day, and now I had two other books to read…
When I arrived home from Camp Dudley there was a package waiting for me at my mom’s. The package was from Susan Taylor and the letter inside said this:
If I had one wish that could be granted at this time, it would be for you to feel comforted. It would be for the pain to ease.
But grieving opens up the way of healing and understanding. Understanding and growth are the goals in life. So be where you are. Feel the depth of the loss. Its a mirror of the love in your heart. Cry, beat the pillow, holler if your spirit calls for that. In time- it takes time, dear Kim- the light will shine brightly again. That’s God’s promise.
Know that you are in my heart and prayers. I love you through your dear mother, a beloved soul, whom I love and admire so.
Kim, I’m here in any way you may need me.
Much Love, Susan”
Enclosed in the package were two books: When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, by Pema Chodron and All About Love, by Susan Taylor.
When a writer that you deeply admire sends you books, you should read them. I immediately added these two to my summer reading; reading them interchangeably with Eat Pray Love on my afternoons in the park. They helped a lot.
It had been a healthy week and it was now time for a wedding. I was happy for my dad, but I thought he moved quickly. My brother, The Man, and I had just been introduced to his “friend” a few weeks prior when we were home for memorial day.
The following week he called and said “what did you think of my friend?” I told him I thought she was very nice. He said “good, because we’re getting married in July.”
I hadn’t had much time to process this. I got the news on June 7 and two days later I found Kesner dead.
Since I’d been home, I had only seen my father one time. He and his fiancé invited my brothers and I for dinner. I looked sad and my dad gave me a big hug and said “we’re going to make you feel better.” In response to that, his fiancé said “she will feel better when she wants to feel better.”
I agreed with her. She and I are like-minded in some ways; we both read Louise Hay and we both happened to be reading Eat Pray Love at that time. I knew that she was right; there was choice involved in my ‘feeling better.’ But there was another part of me that felt resentful about her comment and its timing.
During that evening I soon learned that there was no space for my sadness amidst their happiness. The subject soon changed to everything wedding, and my brothers and I were given assignments for the day of the ceremony. As we all sat on the back patio that night and talked about wedding stuff, I looked up and saw a star in the sky shining brighter than any other. It was Kesner’s star.
Kesner was with me.
And now the wedding was upon us… My father and step-mother got married in a simple ceremony at a downtown courthouse. It was beautiful. The judge, a friend of the bride, decorated the courtroom and it was elegant. My father’s wife wore royal blue and she was stunning. And Dad was happy.
The reception lunch was awkward. In their rush to the altar they’d neglected to introduce the families. I’d urged my dad to organize a barbecue so that we could meet her adult children, but he hadn’t done it. This was painfully obvious at the reception lunch. We were a table of strangers; never properly introduced. It was odd.
During the lunch I got a call from my Links chapter member, Valerie. She had followed up with the managing editor at essence.com and she needed a copy of my bio and resume. This was exciting news, I would get something to her right away.
After the wedding and reception my brothers and I went to Amanda’s house.
I had plans to paint my nails at Amanda’s after the wedding. When my brothers, Mike and Gary, heard this they invited themselves to come hang out. Our God Brother, JT, said that he wanted to come also. So we all went to Amanda’s; Amanda and I painted our nails while hanging out with Mike, Gary and JT.
I think that moment was less about hanging out and more about needing a space to debrief and de-compress. Our father had just gotten married and we needed to talk about it. Amanda’s was a welcomed place to process…
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