Quoted quote with a quote as I reflect on Katherine & this past year

When I traveled to Spain with friends years ago we learned a valuable life lesson. It was a long trip (and an awesome, incredible, amazing trip with great friends) but we had a few stressful points so at one point I started saying “ sucks” (I’m sure one of them remembers specifically what sucky part brought this on – another detail I’ve forgotten over the years). We soon realized the more we said that the more it really did suck and the more things went wrong. So we stopped saying it. We started thinking positively. Things got better. The trip turned out awesome! This lesson applies to each of us every day. The books The Secret and The Power of Positive Thinking capitalize on this.

I try to be positive. I’ve made great strides the last several years – and I try to share those good vibes. In the spirit of that, last February (2012) I wrote a blog post entitled “Good things happen to good people” – that whole post was about positive things. Oh, the irony. The whole post was about ‘how great Spain was’ – all good stuff. Amazing how that same world can be completely turned upside-down a month later. It makes me think of that great Woody Allen quote, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”

Don’t read too much into any of that. God isn’t laughing at us, and I’m not cynical to positive thinking. But I doubt you’ll see another completely, totally, absolutely positive post from me about all the great things happening. Even if and when they are happening I’m not sharing so blatantly – you can just assume it’s always happening, ok?

I read God Never Blinks this week – it’s a collection of short newspaper publications by the author, Regina Brett. She had a chapter titled “It’s okay to be angry with God. He can take it.” That made me laugh & relate to it. My range of emotions this year have been all over the place. It took me a long time to understand and accept that Katherine didn’t have a choice – she had an illness that took over and left her no other options. It took me a long, long time to let her know that I understand and hope that she’s in a better spot for her and at peace. And for me to tell her that. I don’t like it but I can’t change it. Of all places and people, it took a night in a bar, with the spouse of a friend directly in my face sharing a crazy-unreal, goose pimple-inducing story and then asking what felt like were awkward and personal questions to make it click with me and change my thoughts.

I’m not sure that I’m ready for the messages in all of the quotes that follow, and I’m not always ready to focus on the future, but I will continue to ponder and learn from these quotes.

This same book goes on to say, “You don’t need a cancer verdict to start living more fully. Every day, light a candle. What a great reminder that life is short, that the only time that matters is now. Walk out of boring movies. Close any book that doesn’t dazzle you. Greet every morning with open arms and say thanks every night with a full heart. Each day is a precious gift to be savored and used, not left unopened and hoarded for a future that may never come.”

I also read Beauty Beyond the Ashes: Choosing Hope After Crisis, by Cheryl McGuinness today. Her husband was the pilot of one of the planes that hit the towers on 911. She has a strong religious focus that I won’t go into but I did like these lessons from one of the chapters. (1) Life goes on. As unfair, unreasonable, and impossible it seems, we still have work to do after a tragedy occurs. We still have roles to fill. We still have responsibility to family and others. The stuff of life may pause for a while, but it doesn’t stop. Fair or not, that’s reality. (2) Healing requires active participation. If we can summon the strength to take the first steps, the healing will come that much sooner. If we don’t take those first steps and participate with God in our healing process, we die while we are still alive. God tells us to trust him, get up, and take one more step of faith toward healing – in spite of our feelings. (3) Many details about the future remain unknown. Walking with Jesus involves walking by faith. Our attempts to control the future are fruitless. Those of us who have suffered loss understand only too well that we control very little in our lives. The promise of tomorrow is given to no one. We need to appreciate each day as a special Gift from God and focus our hearts on him, seeking to know and understand his will on a day-by-day basis. We need to take God’s Word to heart when he tells us in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” My prayer is that you will also come to know hope, not despair; courage, not fear; love, not hate.

Yes, I’ve been busy reading this week. Here’s a similar thought from Suicide and Its Aftermath, by editors: Edward J Dunne, John L. McIntosh, and Karen Dunne-Maxim. “Moving on does not mean forgetting. It means gaining freedom through closure and giving up feeling victimized. It means going on with our lives, with each other, with our living sons and their families, with other relationships, and with life as it really is, not as we would like it to be. It means eventually being able to move beyond the event of suicide to remember and celebrating the life of our daughter. We are facing our future with a greater sense of who we are. Our awareness to increased divorce rates to parents of suicide recommits us to working through our thoughts, feelings, and differences, determined that our bonds of loving and struggling should not be broken. We now know that we cannot control what happens to us, but we can take charge of how we respond. We can no longer change the destiny of our beloved daughter, but we can be sure that our lives will be more meaningful, purposeful, compassionate, forgiving and loving. My life has changed and I will never again have the same innocence. But perhaps there is hope for others more newly bereaved in the fact that life has continued on with a new awareness of the fragility of life, with a deepened spirit and commitment to life and with the certainty that, although life is not perfect, it is good.”

Ok, one more…Suicide: Why? by Adina Wrobleski says something similar: “While we cannot bring the person back, and while there are no second chances with the person who died, there are many second chances with the living. There is an opportunity to make up in the present what is desperately wished for in the past. The death of a loved one changes people; how they change is up to each individual.”

And just a few more quotes I’m still noodling over…not sure what I think of some of these…

I’ve come across this quote a crazy amount of times recently, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” -Philo of Alexandria or Plato or maybe somebody else. If only we knew about those battles.

“The mind is its own place, and in itself, Can make Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven” -John Milton

How about this one? “You got to go through hell before you get to heaven” – maybe this is taken out of context from what the Steve Miller Band meant, but after this hellacious year I’m taking this to mean that we’re all going to heaven.

It’s been a tough day but cherish those memories and we’ll continue to get through this together. Love to you all. Rest in peace my beautiful sister.

4 Responses to “Quoted quote with a quote as I reflect on Katherine & this past year”

  1. Uncle Dan says:

    “To be loved in the hearts we leave behind is to live forever.”

    The first week I returned to work last year after Katherine did her thing I was working at UCONN. On my way into campus they have this gigantic triangular rock that apparently is there to be graffitied. The message would change every couple days that I would drive by it. Almost all of the messages kids would spray paint on to it, were advertisements for their clubs, which frats to rush or just random crap. The kids do a really good job with their graffiti. It is almost as if UCONN offers a course on spray painting.
    But that week that I went back to work that saying, “To be loved in the hearts we leave behind is to live forever” was sprayed on the rock. It gave me the chills. I don’t know what or who I believe in but I feel like that was someone telling me that things were going to be ok.
    I remember all of the people that went to her wake. It was amazing to see how many people’s lives that she affected. All of the people that came from her work or from college or where ever they crossed paths. They all had great things to say.
    When I then read that saying a week later it really made me realize that she’s always going to be with us. She made that impact on everyone that will make her live on forever.
    I hope you find the answer to what you’re looking for in the books and your research. When you do let me know what it is. From what I can see you’ve got everything figured out already. Atleast more than I do. You’re my inspiration to be a better person. That’s the truth.
    Keep your head up bro. We’re all here for you when you need. Maybe we should limit the amount of books you are allowed to read at one time. Sounds like you may have read too many for one week. I’m sure Katherine seeing you happier would make her happier.

  2. Dave says:

    That’s a great quote. I’ve seen a similar quote but I like the wording of yours a lot better. And I love hearing inspiring stories like that, especially from people that I know. Thank you. And the fact that we met up on that highway in Massachusetts in rush hour after I had been on the road for two days last year – what are the odds of that. Or the flower blooming last year for mom & dad. Or the license plate you saw soon afterwards. Crazy sh*t. How can you not believe in signs? I’ll have to get my friend to tell me her story again – it gives me goosebumps every time – unreal stuff.

    I’m actually doing really well (seems like statements like that always need to be qualified now). Reading is an outlet for me. As is writing. I took 2-days off this week so I could focus & reflect and it ended up being really good for me. I wish I had everything figured out but after years of New Years Resolutions and lists of things I wanted to change, etc it was really The Dream Manager that helped me figure out my values and slowly over several years make positive changes. Writing this blog was the very first Dream Manager inspired item on my list that I pursued (yep)…and it has provided so many benefits that I never anticipated. Small steps are the key. Hope you are doing well this week.

  3. Mom and Grandma says:


    What you wrote is beautiful and heartfelt. It’s funny, but many of the things you wrote about are exactly what I’ve thought all along. I told Dad from that first week after her suicide as more of her behaviors started to surface, that I thought she was stronger than we realized for trying so long to carry on the day to day things. I have always believed Katherine would never have taken her life unless she thought there was no other way to relieve her pain. She loved Erik, her two precious little girls, her family and friends so much that I don’t think she would have ever wanted to cause us so much pain, plus I know that she knew how much all of use loved her in return. I know she has a special place in heaven. I miss her so much especially our talks late in the afternoon while Sarah and Rose played (I could hear them in the background) and before dinner and bedtime. I am so grateful for Sarah and Rose to keep the joy alive and we will always tell them about what a wonderful person their mother was as our little girl and as their mama. This past year has made me more cognizant of what others might be going through in their day to day lives and to jot them a note or give them a call. I will continue to reach out more to others as it certainly has made a difference to us this past year. David, I am so proud of you and how wonderfully you put your thoughts on paper. It is very cathardic for you and all who read it. I love you and Daniel so much and probably haven’t said it enought over the years. I think we’ve all grown stronger and closer this past year. Keep this blog going – it’s great.
    Love, Mom

  4. Dad & Grandpa T says:

    Wow!, what can I say? – other than great job. So glad you shared your feelings and readings with us. You said in your blog entry a year ago that you always enjoyed receiving Katherine’s “approval” of your blog entries. No doubt she is looking down with much pride and satisfaction in how you and all of us who loved her have been able to cope and struggle through this past year. Although the pain may not be quite as intense, it will always be there. Your emphasis on maintaining a positive attitude is so important. Although there may have been times this past year that we didn’t think we could handle the pain and sorrow, we all pulled together, supported one another and made it through. The memories of the good times will continue to sustain us and get us through any future rough spots.

    If Daniel mentioned seeing that wording on the UCONN graffiti rock, I had forgotten it. That and other things this past year seem to be more than mere coincidences. I guess we can believe or make whatever we want to out of such events, but I can’t help but believe it is more than just mere happenstance. I remember after walking Casey one morning last year and I was down and felt I really needed a sign from Katherine that she was OK. Later that morning waiting on the light at Pep Boys I noticed a license plate in front of me reading “CHINUP.” I would occasionally tell Katherine to keep her chin up. The driver of the car could have been a muscle builder, but I took it as a clear sign from Katherine that she is OK.

    I found the quotes by Plato (and others) and Milton to be of special interest. As I was thinking back this week to a year ago I would see young women in cars and wonder what stress and challenges they might be dealing with. A year ago Katherine would have been seen by others as she was taking the girls to preschool, shopping, going to work and all the other activities of a typical young mother. No one seeing her would have had any idea of what was going on in her mind and all the turmoil she was wrestling with. If only we had somehow known and known how desperate she was and how serious things were for her. Oops, sorry, I let one of the “if onlys” enter my mind again. That’s one of my personal challenges – not letting the “if onlys” rule my life. In that regard, I constantly have to remind myself of the “Three Cs” – we didn’t cause it, we couldn’t control it and we cannot change it.

    My favorite quote of the ones you shared is: “Greet every morning with open arms and say thanks every night with a full heart. Each day is a precious gift to be savored and used, not left unopened and hoarded for a future that may never come.” How true and I hope we all live our lives with such gratitude and in such a manner. I am grateful for each day and I thank God for blessing me with such a wonderful family. Despite our tragic loss, we all have so much to be thankful for. I am and I love you all and appreciate the love and support all of our family has given to your mother and me.

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