Kathie Gagne died 4,355 days ago.

What Shattered My Mother’s Mind

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Bad Jokes
March 19th, 2018 @ 9:26 am

pith helmetI went to my nephew’s birthday party this weekend. He turned five and so the party was based on Disney’s Lion Guard series, which is a spin-off of The Lion King. There were zoologists on hand with a dozen exotic animals – an anteater, a boa constrictor, a hedgehog, etc. – and lots of safari-themed cupcakes and decorations. My sister-in-law also provided pith helmets for all the kids to wear.

Of course I was unable to resist making a classic dad joke: “You know what a pith helmet’s for, right? In case you need to take a pith!” Everyone groaned, as everyone has always done every time that joke has been made for the last two-hundred years.

As the words were coming out of my mouth, I remembered that it was one of mom’s favorite jokes. (She may have gotten it from her dad, Papa, who served in the China/Burma/India theater in the Pacific in WWII.) It was quite literally impossible for her to resist making that joke any and every time one of those pieces of headgear appeared or was even mentioned.

It was a poignant moment for me. Both my sons (and my nephews) were running around like little maniacal adventurers, full of life and wonder and joy. I love them and it will probably forever break my heart that they never got to know their grandmother, who would have been thrilled to have a captive audience for that terrible joke and a thousand others, and who would have worshiped the ground they walk on.

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Five Years
August 12th, 2017 @ 4:36 pm

How curious it is that so often the most enormous days of our lives can simultaneously feel so close and so far away. Today marks half a decade since mom died and yet it seems both like it was only yesterday and like it was another lifetime. My two year old is now seven and I have a two year old again.

Neither of them will have any memories of their paternal grandmother. The older one only met her twice and long before he was forming legitimate long-term memories. The younger one was born years after her death. She’ll exist to them both only in the words I’ve written here, pictures in albums and shoeboxes, and the stories I tell; and that will forever make me a little sad.

I miss her as much today as I did in the months before she died, when she was already gone but still living. But it’s different now, of course. The cannon balls haven’t stopped, but they’re muffled and hazy most of the time, as if they’re happening to a different ship.

I miss you, mom. And I wish you were here. I’ll probably never understand why or accept that you’re not, but I don’t think you’d want me to be as sad as I was then. I’m not. But I still miss you.

September 22nd, 2016 @ 10:28 am

MomI wish I could say something profound or meaningful or hopeful or joyous or poignant on what would have been mom’s 68th birthday. But I can’t think of anything at all. It’s been four years now and she has another grandson she’ll never get to see and more missed anniversaries and birthdays and holidays and diapers she would have been thrilled to change. Life is not fair but death is even worse. And grief never seems to die as much as we’d love for it to disappear and leave us alone for just one day.

I miss my mom. I miss her so much and I wish I could call her to tell her that the airline lost my luggage and I had to wear the same pair of jeans for five days even though her youngest grandson peed all over them and Venice is as amazing as she imagined and the new Star Wars movie was really good and I watched a documentary about great fastball pitchers and they referenced Ted Williams and Yaz and the Patriots are really good now still after all those years of losing to Marino over and over again and I got a haircut you’d like because it’s nice and short and Jesus Christ why did you die?

World Elephant Day
August 12th, 2016 @ 10:40 am

mother-elephant-baby-elephant-calfI had no idea that August 12th is World Elephant Day. I like to think that mom would have been happy about that.

It’s been four years now and I miss her as much today as I did the day she left. It breaks my heart that my two boys will never know their her, and that she never got to be their grandmother. She wanted so, so badly to be a Nana.

She loved The Jungle Cruise, especially the joke about seeing, “the backside of water.” That cracked her up every time, and I try to explain it to my son whenever we are there. But he just stares at me.

The world never looks as big as when someone is lost.