14 December 2010

nate at Devil's Tower


I haven't posted anything here for a while. Not that I haven't thought about it constantly, but it seems like there's been some sort of block. I don't know what it is. Alysia says it might have something to do with my brain thinking it's time to move on whether I want to or not. I think there's something to that. For whatever reason, last october the words just poured out, I could barely hold them back. But now they are less, though I still dream about Nate all the time, miss him all the time. We speak forgotten words in strange landscapes that look kind of like his family's house in Alpharetta, only much bigger, darker, twisted somehow.

But what else is there to say? I remember all these times we spent together, times gone. I stood by his casket until they told me to leave, said tearful words at a podium to his family and friends. They were the worst times of my life, and I remember how awful this time last year was, just about two months after.

And things move on, not easily, but inexorably onwards.

I'm still here, as whoever you are reading this. I took a philosophy class in college and got into a brief discussion with Nate about proof of existence, or something like that. I asked him how he knew he was really here, and he responded that of course he's real. Solidly and absolutely.

03 March 2010

from Nate's dad's calendar book

A letter from Nate's friend Dave Notheis to Nate's Parents

Well first off let me tell you how much I miss your son Nate. And my
> heart and prayers are still with you. He was part of a weekly ritual
> of mine. Every Sunday night I would get a cappucino from Starbucks and
> come and see him at work. Almost like, although not every week, coffee
> time. Talk about how our work weeks were going. And were just becoming
> good friends working in the same biz in general. At the time I was
> riding a 2003 Buell XB9S. Expressed my passion for V-Twin motorcycles
> and told him I eventually wanted to upgrade to a RC51 made by Honda.
> Which to my convenience, he had and was finishing fixing up a 2003
> sp-2 rvt1000r rc-51 from a wreck. I got a price from him and a
> guesstimate of when it would be done........ We shoke hands and he
> gave me his word he wouldn't sell it to anyone else. Months passed as
> I was saving money and one day out of the blue Nate calls me up and
> says it's ready for a test ride. So I test ride it. And instantly fall
> In love with the bike. The day finished with me giving him my WORD
> that I was gonna purchase it and asked to give me a couple more weeks
> to get the ca$h together. He agreed. After maybe two more weeks I
> think, I sold my old bike (Buell) and got all the money together. Came
> over and purchased the rc-51 from Nate. I was so amped about getting
> my dreambike. I wanted to improve my riding skills. So I started
> riding the bike more than once a day for six to eight months,
> constantly improving. So then one day I am sitting alone, in Helen,
> Ga. And who do you think I see... Nate. And of all places Troll Tavern
> not Jordana's. I walk up to him and we start talking about the RC-51,
> how many miles I had put on it so on and so forth. So we said we
> needed to start riding on Sundays and Mondays up in the mtns. And he
> promised to show me some great routes. Which he did. Routes and rides
> that I will always remember for the rest of my life.

02 March 2010

Happy Birthday, Nate.

This is a birthday card I gave him on his 21st birthday. We found it while cleaning out his room.

I can't find the right words tonight. The card will have to do.

13 February 2010

Patchwork Quilt

I suck at silence. Can't be it and I can't live with it. Which is why I always listen to my iPod while doing dishes. And I find music to be wonderful, but I need to hear a human voice. A thought. A story. Another life connected to mine (even if they can't see the connection because of the distance). So I put on Peter Kreeft discussing C.S. Lewis's book "A Grief Observed." I'm usually too lazy to read so I let Kreeft summarize and I say "Someday I'll read that."

A grief observed is about Lewis's journal he kept while coping with the death of his wife. So I immediately go to a place of my most immediate grief. Nate. I find this grief to be odd, but comforting to my concerns about the soul. By my calculations, Nate and I hadn't spoken for months. Quite possibly two years. And yet....I was stunned. Dumbfounded. How was I still standing up? Perhaps I should have sat down. And I realize a few things from one sentence that Lewis said of his wife that I shall adapt to be about Nate.

"His absence spread out like the sky."

That's a pain I understand very well now. I think maybe I thought I did, but whether or not I did....I do now. I think I keep expecting to wake up one day and be free of grief for Nate. That's impossible. I might as well say "Tomorrow I'm going to stand up, but I don't think I'll use my legs." His absence is spread out like the sky because no matter which direction I look...his absence is present. And very final. Untakebackable. Never again will I hear goofy laughs like his (except in my dreams), see toughness like his or even hear bass lines like his. Even if they're identical to Nate's bass lines...that music won't carry Nate's soul. His very essence hanging on every note like a cartoon character dangling from an umbrella floating down from an airplane. So very very final.

This finality of Nate's death (I hate even typing that) shows me another finality. No matter how old I get or where I travel or who I meet I will always miss Nate. Always. And while there will be days when I forget that I am in pain....there will be days when I will feel the sting as if my sister had just called me. As if the funeral director just told me we could go and see him. As if I had just entered the church on that incredibly rainy day. That's very final too.

I think that this must be a picture of ugliness because I have but one thought to counter it. Since I view it as the converse, the mop to this grime, I think it must be beautiful and missing Nate for the rest of my life must be ugly.

I know that a great amount of time had passed since last we met and yet I felt the absence. It stings and burns and twists and contorts. But this shows me a beauty. Somewhere back in our lives. Amongst discussions of Oi! music, amongst discussions of playing bass, talking about the Simpsons, girls, working for Honda, beer and so many other countless things....there was a deep mystical connection. One unseen. One unknown. And as it was unknown to me I suspect it was also unknown to Nate. Somewhere in that bizarre suburb of Alpharetta, GA I got a small piece of Nate's soul in exchange for a small piece of my own. That's why it stings. Because that small piece of my soul that he had in him is now gone. Gone with him on his next bike ride up the great mountain of infinity. And I have two comforts to take from this.

First, I take comfort in knowing that I have a small piece of Nate. I carry it around with me. For the rest of my life. Nate is always with me. He must be because I am always with him. I can't tell you much but I very much sense the absence of a fraction of my soul. Ergo, the presence of a fraction of his.

Secondly, it gives me something new to love. Having this knowledge that Nate's death gives me I can improve life. I now know that I am connected to every living person I bond with in some way. That my soul is not a spool of cloth, but a patchwork quilt. And who wouldn't prefer a patchwork quilt to a spool of cloth. I carry all my loved ones with me. Including the ones I've lost...

..and Nate

There they are. And I'm with them as well. Beautiful. A chain that not even death can break.

And this is the miracle. That we can battle a pain as big and as empty as the sky itself with something as simple as a patchwork quilt.

To this insane thought I can only offer two words as a description.

Divine miracle.

01 February 2010

big scary monster comic book - in progress

For the first time since Nate died, I'm actually feeling pretty good. There's a sense of peace I haven't felt in a long time. But it's a new kind of feeling, since there's still this hole that Nate left. It's confusing to feel happy and hopeful while still in a state of mourning. I sometimes feel guilty for it, though I know it's okay.

One thing that's helping me is working on the Big Scary Monster comic book. It feels like my duty to keep this character alive, this thing that Nate and I created together. And when I'm drawing his character doing new things, it's almost like he's hanging out, thinking up ideas with me. I work on it every day, at least a little, before or after work, whenever I get a chance. This weekend is going to be a marathon of drawing, which is exciting.

There is this one new thing that's been happening. Lately I've been finding myself at the viewing again. Not in a dream, but awake. I close my eyes and I'm standing in front of his open casket. I remember all the details of how I last saw him, vivid as if he's right there. And I keep going back there, over and over, as if a part of me was left there in that room at that time. It makes it hard to fall asleep, and I have to work to think of other things.

It's only been about four months, but it feels like an extremely long time ago that Nate was still around. The heavy weight filling my chest is still there, but the pain is less raw, not getting better exactly, but becoming more manageable.

I'll leave this with a good memory. A few weeks before the accident, Mollie and I went up to Alpharetta to spend a day playing paintball with him and some of his friends. Afterwards we went to eat sushi, and then watched Hellboy 2 at his house. It was so great just spending the day with him like that. The first time we'd done that in so long. I saw my future full of days like those, playing music and going on adventures. It was a great feeling.

06 January 2010

Elephant in the room....no seriously

This is a memory that just surfaced yesterday and I decided to post it.

I think this was going on when we were roughly seniors in high school. Nate had to have some surgery and had his jaw wired shut for a while. While he was in the hospital he threw two blood clots and had to stay longer than expected. He was also on some pretty serious pain killers.

The hospital he was in wasn't far from my family's house and I went to visit him (I think Robert was with me, but I can't recall exactly....someone else was visiting with me). Anyway, Nate was kind of out of it (understandably so) and we were kinda talking and visiting and then he very groggily said "Whoa. I just saw an elephant walk into this room."

I think he was lucid enough to realize that wasn't real, but I remember it being entertaining to us. We decided we should leave and let him get some rest at that point.

01 January 2010

Dream within a dream

This one is from Katzi.

I was feeling strange because I didn't have that one Nate dream where he told me he was fine. Instead, all my Nate dreams had to do with me looking for him and when I eventually found him, he was hidden or taken away from me in a very strange manner. I kept finding myself talking into the darkness, hoping he was listening - even just a little. And sometimes, I would get some sort of sign that he was listening - which eased my mind now and then. But every time I would ask about my dreams that involved him, I would get silence. No signs. No nothing. Those dreams never made any sense. Why would he make himself known only to shield me from him? I don't know. I don't have anyone to talk to to help me interpret these dreams, so I can only dissect them and interpret them through the symbols individually - not as a whole. And that made the dream dissection very difficult because the symbols would never add up in a coherent manner. One symbol would mean one thing and the other would contradict the meaning of the first and so on. What was the point? What was the meaning? Nothing was adding up. So I just gave up. I stopped asking for definite signs and just focused on the moments. Then, I got one of my most direct lines yet.

Last night, I dreamt about being back in school. It was very odd because something was off but I couldn't tell what. Outwardly, everything was as it used to be in high school but there was something not quite right about the situation. I couldn't really tell what it was right away but it would soon come to me in a dream (within my dream).
As I slept in my dream, I had another dream where we were at school again and Nate came up to me, grinning from ear to ear. I jumped up, wrapped my arms around his neck and held on tight. Surprised, he started laughing and asked me what was wrong. I held on even tighter and kept saying, "Whatever you do, no matter where you go, wait five minutes before you go anywhere! Five minutes!"
He pulled me off to look me in the eyes. He was smiling, "Katzi, I'm fine. Everything is fine here."
"Five minutes. Please just wait five minutes before you leave the house or anywhere you're going. Once you've made the decision to leave, just wait five minutes," I kept yelling at him. I was crying at this point but Nate looked into my eyes and kept telling me that he was fine. Everything was fine and I shouldn't worry about him because he was fine and he was going to be fine no matter what. I could smell the leather from the jacket I was tearing my fingernails into and the exhaust from the buses lined up in front of the school. I could feel a warm breeze and hear the chatter of thousands of students around us. I could even feel the warm tears on my face. His voice was echoing, “Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine.”
I woke up from that dream and found myself in a warehouse. There were rows and rows of Nate’s things all around me. I heard the faint sound of people talking and crying. I spotted one of my necklaces on the floor, put it around my neck and followed the voices into the funeral home on the day we had the Celebration of Life Ceremony for Nate.
I walked up to the casket and it played out like it did in real life – for a moment – and then I found myself yelling out “Five minutes! I told you to wait five minutes!”
No one tried to sop me; they all just let me have my fit. But amidst all the yelling, I felt two large hands fall on my shoulders and spin me around. I was looking into Nate’s smiling face. “I’m fine, Katzi. Don’t worry about me. Everything is fine.”
And with that, I woke up. Dazed, I started to recall it all so that I wouldn’t lose too many details and I'm glad to be sharing it with you.