Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Well well well. I think I've been on an RTV haitus. NO, actually, I know I have. I don't know if it's possible to describe what happened to me exactly...the emotions felt these past months...BUT whatever it was I was paralyzed with RTV fear...I just couldn't bring myself to open up...to express in the same way I had been...and I'm not so sure I know the reasons exactly...possibly I felt too exposed...too "out there" emotionally...I just couldn't find the words...didn't want to type..just wanted to curl up and be with me and the ones I hold most dear. Could this be just another way grief rears its ugly head? One of the stages? I'm inclined to think most likely, yes it is...oh life and the places it takes you...if only we dare to open ourselves up, make ourselves vulnerable to the experiences of life. It's hard sometimes to take that step...be it the fear of the great unknown, the financial risk, what is it that stops us exactly from living the life of our dreams...knowing our utmost potential? These, my friends, are the questions I find I ask myself everyday, if not 15 times a day. I have all sorts of dreams, all sorts of passions, all sorts of things that fuel me, so how do I put them all together to make a life for the boys and I...to sustain us. THESE are the questions I'm asking now more than ever...I've found myself at yet another crossroads (lucky me), wondering if I can take all these experiences I've had this past year and really DO SOMETHING that matters, that sustains, that gives back, that moves me at my core. All of this questioning, I believe, has come from a recent trip I had the great fortune of taking to South Africa with TOMS shoes...and before I tell you what I've decided these few weeks since being back I want to share with you (or note for myself only for all of eternity) each day for the next few what I wrote in my journal...and experienced and felt while I was on my trip in Africa. I feel like if I take what's on paper...and type it out here in black and white it will speak to my soul in an even more significant way than the experience itself already has. So if it bores you, my apologies upfront...I'm just doing my thing trying to get back in the practice of being RTV....so here goes.
AFRICA --- DAY 1 --- "Due to safety regulations sleeping on the floor of the plane is not allowed" SOLID I think to myself what an absolutely solid announcement as I am about to embark on a nearly 18 hour flight to a place I've dreamt of going my entire adult life....AFRICA...it is ironic...I was once picked to go to Nigeria for a summer in college, I was a couple months in to the process when I met someone who made my world change colors...made my heart swell with feelings I've never experienced. I fell in love that winter and declined the opportunity to go to Africa knowing in my heart this love was more important..fearing if I left what was sitting before me would disappear. Little did I know then my whole life and being would be so significantly impacted by the choice to stay and forgo the trip to Africa. The love affair of that winter turned into the rest of my life as I know it today...my soul joined with Katie forever. So the fact that I'm sitting here now on a plane to Africa, this the last trip of the Great Adventure, I have to laugh at the irony of it all...how life does truly take us full circle sometimes...mind boggling actually.
So now here I am on a new journey, alone, starting over yet again, morning is starting to dawn and I catch my first glimpse of AFRICA, a chill runs down my entire back. I'm listening to U2 -- Joshua Tree -- Where the Streets have no Name -- Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking for -- it's a perfect soundtrack as I gaze out of my window staring down below at the wonder that is South Africa! I don't know what awaits me out these doors of the plane but this excites me to no end. TOMS takes the approach that when we get the opportunity to go on a guided trip, like this, it is better to come in to the trip with as few expectations as possible....so nothing about my shoe drop has been shared with me...all I knew was when to show up at the airport and where I was going...that's about it. A true adventure awaits I know this for sure, and I expect my thoughts and feelings will be so different upon my return home. What will my mind be thinking and feeling when I gaze out this same little window looking down upon Ohio? Time will tell, what I know is I will be different, better for having taken this step of blind faith.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
I am beginning to reconcile and reflect over all the things which went down this time last year..and the entire thing is so terribly maddening to me. This very day one year ago we received the BEST news we thought we would never get. Throughout the course of Katie's illness we were told over and over again from many doctors that Katie would die from her illness..told that their goal in providing treatment to Katie was not to cure her but to prolong her life with some ounce of quality. Everytime I was told this I would smile cordially and say that's fine (really wanting to honestly say fuck you, but I'm too nice) I share a different viewpoint, our goal in this is to restore Katie back to full health and you just don't know this person your treating...this is KATIE REIDER for pete's sake..she is no ordinary human being...it is not her time...if you really knew her you would know if anyone could beat this tumor it is her. ALL along I maintained this belief, to Katie I would say..well you're just getting this out of your system now, the boys are young, they'll never recall you being ill and when we're old we will already have done the life threatening illness thing so we'll have full health to look forward to...so when I received the news from our doctor on Friday June 27th, 2008 that her MRI showed the tumor to be 97% gone.. I was not surprised...this was the hope I had been holding on to all along...it was news I was told to never expect and it was finally here. I hung up the phone (I was in my office at work), put my head on my desk and wept with pure and joy and exuberance. SHE WAS BEATING THIS....the whole battle..this whole 2 years was finally turning around...we had made it...we were getting our lives back...these are all the things which rushed through my head and so much more....I immediately lifted my head and wrote (in a seconds time) the last email I would ever write to Katie (as a reference...we called each other beeb):
WE CAN DO THIS BEEB..YOU CAN DO THIS..you've come so far..and FINALLY
we're at a point where we're moving in the direction of getting you
restored..just imagine the good that will come from all of this...just
being able to talk again...to sing again..it's all possible Kate..and it
is all going to happen for you...our lives are going to be given back to
us..and you and I will grow old happily..w/o illness and we'll enjoy our
boys (and who knows maybe even more :D) ....and their children...
My hope in having you...was restored at the news today....and I will be
with you every step of the way...to your full recovery....we will never
be the same...we are forever changed and altered..but when we emerge
from this fire...holy cow..no one...nothing will ever be able to stop
I love you now..I love you always!
What was even better was the VERY next morning we were leaving to go on a family vacation we had been SO excited for..and we had this amazing news to send us off. Never could I expect or anticipate that we would only have 1 full day to live with this good news before we took the ride to total despair and sorrow...never could I have predicted what would unfold in the next 2 to 16 days...and I suppose this is the nonsense I've tried to make sense of this full year later...I've come to many realizations over this year...mostly that even though her tumor was 97% gone it was not 100% gone and in fact part of that 3% was growing...so this thing indeed was never going to go away just as the doctors maintained and while it seemed cruel and shocking at the time...Katie was certainly spared from more pain and agony with which she had suffered already for far too long. I write this out..and the events of the coming days this one year later to make even more sense of it in my head...to capture it forever someplace..to shove in my face that we all truly are one phone call from our knees (Matt Kearney lyric which captures the way I feel so perfectly sometimes). So this is why we live it up...pursue our passions...find what moves us and run with reckless abandon in that direction...because it could be over in 2 days in 10 days...in 20 years...we just don't know...and when my time comes I need to know....in that moment...I've lived my best life possible.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Yesterday is what would have been my 6th wedding anniversary....yesterday and today I have found myself painfully missing my wife. Oh this first year...this first year of life without Katie is tough to say the VERY least. Of course there is the obvious..all the "firsts" you have to endure...Christmas, Mother's Day, children's birthdays, her birthday...and now I can add anniversary to the list of firsts which have come and gone. I'm feeling quite fortunate my last "first" is soon approaching..this day...the darkest day in my history...will be a difficult first to endure..so difficult in fact I find the emotions already building up..but I will be so happy to have leaped this last hurdle..turning yet another new unexplored chapter in this business of grief and living...the chapter I think I call..after those first 365. I don't know what to expect on say..day 367 or 430, but something I've found to be so difficult with this first 365 is I often think about what it was I was doing last year at this time...and to know whether it was good or bad or worse..at the very minimum at this time last year I still knew what it felt like to have Katie's hand in mine...knowing this..at any given point of the first 365..is such an unexpected emotional weight...to know...she was here and now she's not..it's a painful reminder, salt in the wound (so to speak)..so I'm looking forward to the "after those first 365" days...one because again the "first hurdles" will all have been jumped, never to be jumped again..but more importantly...or maybe most importantly I'll know that say on June 7, 2010 when I say "what was I doing this time last year"...the answer can be..I was living..I rose above..I drank all life had to offer..I saw and was changed by the unexpected... I met new people who taught be amazing lessons all of which I could have lost had I not been willing to take the risk..I raised my children, loved them endlessly, showed them many things I had never even seen. I engaged life, I laughed so hard I cried...I cried so hard I laughed...I was not conquered by my greatest fear but looked fear directly in the eyes and chose hope.
I've said so many times before we can not choose the situations which will happen to us in life...life has many plans for us we may not like..but the only logical choice regardless of the circumstance is hope..and living our best life possible...so I continue on...writing this chapter in my newest adventure.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Wow! Did I ever think I would have a website of my very own...certainly not...what an exciting thing.
The super talented and ever wonderful Adam George of Ample (http://www.helloample.com) created the design and flow of the noretakes site. Basically all written blogs, video blogs, and photos can be found in one place. ALONG with links to all of Katie's music. Thank you Adam for making a beautiful site I'm happy to call my own.
Kiersten Turos (http://www.k2dsquared.com/who has created nearly every single Katie Reider website worked so hard to get this thing off the ground...Kiersten you have ALWAYS risen ABOVE for Katie and now me...there are no words...there is no amount of compensation..for all your efforst over the years... The amount of adoration I have for you and all the hard work you've put in for my family over the years....geesh...you are truly one of the most CARING, SELFLESS, LOVING people I have ever had the great pleasure of knowing. I feel so very blessed to have you as a friend...I just can't even tell you.
Robert Parish...the man who makes the videos...who sees the story from the countless hours of video I send to him and works his magic. Robert if it were not for you and your encouragement there would be no videos...and these have come to mean so much to me...be so healing for me..so I thank you in ways I could have never anticipated for walking with me on this journey in such a fun and meaningful way.
And to Lauren Fernandes who has supported my family and listened to me...stretched me and encouraged me in so many ways...you've worked tirelessly for Katie and her story and you have not received nearly the credit you so deserve.
This is really such an amazing outlet for me to explore and grow...you can not...NOT choose the circumstances which will befall you in life..however you can choose how you will respond in any and every situation...Life affords us NO RETAKES...so we have to live for each moment..making it the very best and very most it was destined to be. We just have no idea...when our time or moment will end...for Katie and my family it was seemingly overnight that things went from blissfully perfect to our darkest hour. Never ever did I think this disease would conquer Katie...take her from me....I was her greatest believer, cheering her on through every unbelievable horror. The entire battle with this disease was the hardest thing I have ever endured...when she died it was so unexpected so unbelievable...I walked in a fog and daze for many months after...however what I knew once I emerged is that I was left here for a reason. Blessed with a love and a life and now 2 more lives entrusted to me...I choose hope, I choose rich experiences, I choose the pursuit of happiness, I choose taking risks and trusting God. I choose growth over despair because I know far too well how precious life is. I choose to be open to any and everything life has to offer...to be real, transparent, and vulnerable in all of my interactions...never shying away from telling my story to whoever will listen. It is my hope that having encountered this story in whatever capacity you know it....you will think differently about your own life and how you can live it better...if even for 5 minutes. OR that you will give thanks and appreciate and love what you have you have in your life and appreciate it in a deeper way...because it is not the things we own, job we have, car we drive that we will take with us when it is all said and done..it is the people we loved, the memories we shared and the experiences we created for ourselves.....so create your best life...one you never imagined or dream of...and share it with me because I love your stories...they are fuel to my soul. Press on...again knowing this is our only and best life...and we will be afforded NO RETAKES!!
So the great adventure pressed on from New Orleans to Houston. We had the amazing pleasure of staying with an old roommate of Katie and mine from college, Erica. Unfortunately we lost touch with Erica over the years as life just "got in the way"...so I was super excited to drive to her home but also quite nervous about seeing her again after really no communication these many years later. The last time we spoke to her I'm fairly certain Katie and I were still quite uncomfortable with the definition of "our relationship" so needless to say MUCH had changed really in both of our lives since we last met eyes. Regardless of time and life and all the change both of us had endured it was wonderful to hang out and catch up...to meet her family and be in her life. While there are people you will drift from (seasons of friendship) so to speak... it's always nice to know you can take a trip back to your roots...if you are so willing...and learn and grow and be changed...I loved seeing my friend and knowing she was so happy. I loved walking down memory lane, being reminded of things I had forgotten...AND to top it all off I got to eat DOVE..uh yeah the bird of peace..that dove...for the first time (tastes like chicken if you were wondering). It was a wonderful stop on the great adventure and I can not thank you enough Glen and Erica for being willing to host my family along our journey...
Thursday, April 30, 2009
picture by Aiden...of Raymond and KarenWhile in New Orleans I received a message via facebook from Raymond, someone I did not know (had no idea who he was) that basically said hey if you're ever passing through I would really love to meet you. Now..I'm a small young female traveling the country with 2 young boys... I didn't know Raymond at all and while I appreciate the offer from ANYONE I sat on the email and truthfully thought about how I could politely decline. A couple of days went by and as I was leaving New Orleans en route to Houston, TX (in the night no less) I passed a sign saying the town Raymond lived in was around 70 miles and thought oh crud...never emailed him back...SO I pulled out my phone and started typing the nicest decline I could muster up. I received a response from Raymond about 35ish minutes later...which basically explained he was a fan of Katie's...but the part that hit me...in the face and gut was the following:
Katie meant a lot to me on many levels. I was very upset when she passed away. I think God may have been looking out for me and "prepped" me for a loss as I had to experience one much greater than that of Katie (whom I had never met) but was a fan....my twelve year old son passed away on January 30 after becoming ill in June.
This was February 25th...not even a month after this man lost his son. In my gut I knew I should call him...now only 10 miles away. So I did...and thankfully Raymond guided me to a nearby McDonalds (for the kids sake and ours) where we met one another...shared our medical trauma stories...exchanged stories about our grief, but basically just related to one another...and had a very real, very human interaction. It is everything I wanted the great adventure...it is a moment in my life..simple as it may seem which I will always cherish and never soon forget. There is something so magical about sharing yourself with another...about interacting in a real way...if even for a moment. So while it may have been a risky thing to meet a stranger at night...I knew in my guts it was the right thing to do..so I took a risk..and yet again it paid off.
Thank you Raymond for being so bold and reaching out to me...I'm not sure how you carry on in this life with the burden of a loss of a child...but you inspired me on that night to continue to carry on with my head held high!