Originally posted by Dave Thompson on IronMegan.com personal blog, March 26, 2014 (note: his sister, Katherine, died March 26, 2012)

In the beginning
all the time
when I woke up
when I went to bed
any time in between
when I walked into work
when I walked out of work
but I kept it out of work
had to then
when my phone rang at work
you are never prepared for that phone call

when I drive up the street to my parent’s house
when I drive down the street away from my parent’s house
when I think about that first moment at their house
and we all stand in the kitchen and catch up on things
and get to see and hug each other for the first time of that visit
and joke and laugh with each other
and get some cookies from the cookie jar
that’s always a special moment
it’s still special
but is missing something now

when I think about my parents
and all the things they did right
and all the love we showed each other
and all the happiness waiting for all of us
together in the future

when I think about future family reunions

when I look at our last family pictures
and thought we were doing it for another reason
it wasn’t Katherine that we were worried about then
you never know the reason
take the picture

when I think about my brother
and his family
and my parents
and Katherine’s family
her husband
and girls
those smiling, happy girls
we worry about them remembering too much
yet not remembering enough
those precious, special girls
and extended family
and her best friend
all of her friends
and her co-workers
and anyone fortunate enough to see her beautiful spirit shine
you never know the reason for making all those connections
make the connections

when I think about New Hampshire
New England
a trip to Disney
a trip to Grand Marais
she said a summer trip is “good for us!” 2 weeks before she died
the struggle to live
and to die
at the same time

when I think of a cold and dreary New England day
or see a timeless New England cemetery
when I hear bagpipes
wow were they sad that day
and yet beautiful in a way I’d never heard before
and don’t want to hear again

at any holiday
when I have a birthday and turn a year older
New Years
Thanksgiving with family
it’s so odd that my happiness related to aging and family holidays
triggers sadness
the happier I see us all
the sadder I want to feel sometimes

when I think about my childhood

when I see anyone take their family for granted

when I hear anyone say the word “sister”
or “brother”
especially if they are complaining about their siblings
hey grown-ups
please don’t complain about your siblings
I know kids will fight with each other
that’s normal, and part of every childhood
watching my children do that stirs up many emotions in me
frustration, sadness, hurt, mad, plus others I guess
I have to leave the room and not deal with it
guess it makes me miss Katherine even more
and wants me to have them appreciate each other all the time
I know it’s not realistic
but wow does it overwhelm me

when I see other families fight
over the silliest things
and just not get how precious life is
especially when these families know my story
but they forget
please appreciate what you have
or if you don’t appreciate it
please don’t do that in front of me
especially during holidays which are already tough on me
help me every day continue to live my life positively
and inspire others
and not judge
and have patience
and respect all those around me
and help me “be kind” as the quote says
because everyone you meet is fighting a great battle

when I worry about telling my kids
when I worry about not telling my kids

every time one of my children says they hate me
yes, it happens to all of us
hopefully not often
but all kids say it
it digs deep
in ways it wouldn’t have two years ago
or when they cry over friends
or not fitting in
how can you not worry?
do you overreact?
love them
listen to them
be there
don’t judge
create that loving environment.

when I think about how Grandma T would always pause when we’d go
through old photos
when she got to Grandpa T’s sister Margareet who died when
she was in her early twenties of cancer
something about the way she said it or paused I think
showed a profound impact on Grandpa T for the rest of his life
it would be interesting to hear if he ever talked about her
or how that impacted him
and how his life changed
does anyone know?

when I look at draft emails still addressed to Katherine
or the messages from her still saved in my phone
or read her comments in my blog
so glad I created that blog
it is the 1st item I ever pursued after reading The Dream Manager
Katherine always talked about creating her own blog
she really wanted to do it
but it never happened
so glad she read my blog
so glad she wrote comments
you never know why you do some things
and the benefits they will produce
chase your dreams
write your blog (or whatever is on your dream list)
who cares what others think
take small steps at first
but just do it
support other people’s dreams
write those comments
they mean so much

when I have great memories of her
it’s so true that we remember and miss the small things
the imperfections, crazy moments, and unique traits
those random, funny email that I still have saved
jigsaw puzzles of course
that wonderful laugh/snort/chortle/burst with that smile
the awesome gifts she bought me
will I ever throw some of those away now?
how long will a G. H. Bass jacket last and still be so stylish?
don’t answer that
I say I need to get better at buying gifts like she did
talk is cheap, huh?
when I hear “wicked awesome”
ok, I never hear that
when I drive past where she got pulled over by the police
for speeding in Minnesota
while in her pajamas
with no I.D.
with her best friend
and not really knowing where they were
must have made that cop’s day

when I watch my children grow older
when I see my daughter dancing
and growing older
and making lifelong friends
when I fold her flannel pajamas
when she wears new dance costumes and make-up
I can picture Katherine at that age doing these same things

when I still think about calling Katherine out of the blue
it just doesn’t seem real some days
this really happened to our family?

when I connect with a song
For a Dancer by Jackson Browne
“And somewhere between the time you arrive
And the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive
But you’ll never know”
find songs or poems or stories that have meaning to you

When I see my grey hairs
when I don’t sleep well at night
because my mind is up
I sleep better now
but those grey hairs don’t turn back to brown
thanks Katherine

when I hear people say
“I’d kill for that”
“he’s dead to me”
“slit my wrists”
“hang myself”
they are just words we all use
but I pause on them now
and try to be intentional
and thoughtful
in my words and actions

when I try to think about what she must have been thinking
and going through
so much that I don’t understand
and can’t relate to
but I’m learning a lot and continue to learn
and not judge
are scraping sounds of teeth against a metal fork or spoon
a warning sign or just a way to annoy your sister?
who knows.
when I tap my fingernails on the wall
as I walk down a hallway
or stairwell
but I can stop tapping my nails
I control it
but others can’t
so hard to understand

when I lay my shoes side by side for the next day
the right shoe goes on the right
the left shoe goes on the left
now that can’t be changed
don’t mess with my shoes
what makes it anxiety and OCD?
versus just being silly?

when I jog past a certain area in this loop that I do
I talk to her there
we all need to handle this in our own way
find that special spot
talk to yourself
talk to her
don’t bottle it up

when I pause and hug my kids real tight

when I see a beautiful sunrise

when I have a bad day

when I get in a slump for a day or two

when I let small things frustrate me

when I think about others going through struggles
and I still don’t ask them about it enough when they say they are “ok”
it’s awkward
or we forget weeks later
and I can’t assume just because someone is having a bad day
that it will end up in suicide
but you never know
so live a good life
and always be there for others
listen and watch for signs

when I see awful stories in the news
when I hear others make judgments about suicide
and state why people did it
and how could they leave so much behind
or be so selfish
we have so much to learn

it’s a disease
just like a heart attack
you can’t control it
and shouldn’t be judged

when I hear a judgment come out of my mouth
I hope this doesn’t happen often
we all do it
often without realizing it
you never know the other person’s story
or what they’ve been through
or what they are going through
nice words and thoughts go a long way

when I try to think about what day to honor her each year
but really it’s every day
every day is a great day to remember her
and live a life that she would be proud of
but it’s not enough to say every day
I really want an intentional day to celebrate her life
or do focused good in the world in her name
I’m open to ideas

every time I tell someone new who I am
I may not tell them about this right away
but I’m thinking about it
it’s a huge part of me
it has shaped me
and focused me
and helping me define a purpose
and to live intentionally
without judgment
not take any day or moment for granted
and be there for others all of the time
but I’d trade it all back in a heartbeat

when I think about what I want to focus my life on
when I think about what truly matters
when I think about what I would change in this world if I could
when I help others understand why it’s important to have dreams
and pursue them
and live for today
and be happy now
because that’s the only guarantee that we have
and I’m inspired by the people
who have already used this as a wake up call
and are pursuing their dreams now

when I think about dream lists
Katherine had 19 dreams in her list
I think she accomplished one of those
do the rest of us live the remaining dreams for her?
do I just need to post something to Etsy?
or does someone have to actually buy it?
heh heh
is it ok to share most of her dreams?

when I think about the good person I want to always be
and the shining example I want to set for others
and the best that I can be

when I think about if I can really ever save anyone
all we can do is try
be there for people
spread happiness
share some smiles
don’t judge
give people space
but not too much space
but how do you know where that line is
all we can do is try the best we can
and be good people

those of us that can control our lives
should control our lives
and help others
and learn
and do better
because we know better

when I think about keeping our entire family together
when I think about how fragile life is
when I think about living each day to its fullest
and treasuring the blessings we have before us each day
and being there for others
all the time
even when we don’t feel like it
yes, even then
all the time
and how far I’ve come in the past two years
I think the best thing I can do to honor her memory
is continue to improve and live the best life I can
help others
give back
just be there
focus on today
that’s all we can guarantee
life is precious
enjoy each day to it’s fullest
because you never know

1 thought on “When…

  1. Dad and Grandpa T

    A beautiful expression of your feelings. I can relate to so much of what you write. So proud of all your work and your sharing of your feelings. You have a gift and so glad you are so willing to share with others.


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