Monday, April 20, 2009


Ten years ago tonight I was sitting in my dining room with Ken and April, Nikki and Ashley, our two Golden Retrievers, curled at our feet under our big oak table, while Winnie and Pip cuddled on the soft downy top of their tall kitty condo, half dreaming, half awake at the sounds of our laughter mixed with talk of the plans we were making. Our bags were packed and sitting near the door, two Frontier Airline tickets resting atop them. We'd eaten dinner and were discussing the early morning drive to Midway, the things April needed to do to tend to the animals, my anxiety over the entire trip. There had even been a great amount of talk about the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton which had taken place earlier that day. At some point I stepped outside to let The Girls out, stood in the newly greening and damp grass in our backyard and smoked a cigarette while watching the stars move slowly across the sky. I could hear the soundtrack to Evita playing from inside while Ken and April did the dishes, the gentle chink of the tags on The Girls collars as they sniffed out the yard. I remember feeling like my life was on the cusp of a dramatic change and not liking it one bit. I have never been good at such things and despite my dislike for my job at CDW and the monotony of life in quiet, remote Round Lake Beach, there was comfort in its predictability, safety in routine.

Duncan and I walked the park today and only barely managed to safely navigate the flood of news vans and media which had gathered to mark the 10th anniversary of the shootings which took place at the high school across the street. It was not a pleasant walk, surrounded by sad faces and heavy hearts huddled together under the same blue sky that rose overhead ten years ago. Duncan was anxious and we didn't actually find peace in our walk until much later, when I took him out after dinner under a clear, darkened sky, the stars shining down as a warm April breeze carried the scent of the lake to us. It was the same sky I saw all those years ago in Illinois with the same constellations, only very little of that life remains. April has married and had children and we are no longer in contact, despite an immaculate and untouchable friendship. Nikki and Ashley have crossed the Rainbow Bridge and Winnie and Pip, while still full of vim and vigor, are nearly thirteen and spend far more time napping in the sunlit windows than they do chasing each other. Even Ken, who I always counted on as my constant, the one person who would always stand at my side, isn't here. I don't even own the same clothes I packed and carried across the country. It's all I can do to remember this new address.

But at least I have Duncan and our walks and the stars. On nights like tonight, when my heart feels like it's breaking, there is tremendous comfort to be found in those simple things.


David said...

I'm still here, Curt, but with you,too. Remember?

Lori said...

I want to say something wise, encouraging and comforting, but it turns out that I'm an idiot.

All I can offer is that I've had dark, empty times in my life, when it seemed that everything that possibly could had gone wrong, and there was no way to fix any of it. Utter hopelessness.

But eventually, if never soon enough, I've stumbled out the other side, usually still clueless, and found something better and more promising waiting.

I wish the same for you, but without the clueless part.

Sue said...

My heart is heavy with yours Curt.

Hang in there, there are more people with you than you realize.

Love and hugs,
Sue & the gang

ruth said...

Remember your north star, sweetie.

Cheryl said...

YOU have much more than Duncan to call yours. Things in life change. They must. Time moves on and we travel with it. We must.

Greg said...

I believe you are blessed, Curt, with good friends near and far. They are wise to remind you that while we are not close to you, we are always with you.

In ten years, you'll write a post from a new, brighter perspective point looking back on this day, too.

Hang in there.

Kevi said...

Personal growth sucks.