Apr 19, 2010

Trying to make sense of the senseless

Is it really only Monday?

The last 48 hours feel like at least twice that long. Therefore, I make no promises that this post will have a defined beginning, middle and end, nor that it will be coherent.

Saturday morning my parents called to let me know that one of my first cousins, Kyser, had been shot in his home and was on life support. Kyser, only 24 years old and about as nice a person as you'll ever meet, had been shot and was ON LIFE SUPPORT. I actually couldn't believe it.

I was 13 when Ky was born, and he was the first baby I really got to hold for any period of time. When I came to college in Birmingham five years later, I was lucky enough to get to babysit him and his younger brother Harrison regularly.



After my freshman year in college, I lived at their house while I took classes in Summer School, and we got to do all sorts of things, including but not limited to playing endless hours of video games in their basement.

Harry and Kyser right after painting pottery in Hoover one day

When Grayson and I got married in 1995, Kyser was our program usher and Harrison our ring bearer.

Even after that, I still occasionally took him and Harry to do things around town and attended their ballgames, and being a part of their lives -- even in a small way -- was really rewarding for me.

Once Ky left for Vanderbilt, I saw less of him. We saw each other at the holidays (most recently Christmas 2009), and he had continued to stay the course, to be the fine young man that we all knew and loved.

Kathryn, Harry, Kyser, Ben

Which is why it was so beyond belief, so completely incomprehensible, that someone could have broken into his house on a Friday night and shot him in the back of the head. Even now, it takes my breath away.

Something that was unfathomable 48 hours ago is all of a sudden our new reality, and I won't lie to you and tell you that it's OK because it's all part of God's Plan. I am REALLY STRUGGLING with His Plan at the moment. What possible good can come of this? Ben and Kathryn (my aunt and uncle) terminated life support on Saturday morning around 10:00 and had planned to donate Kyser's organs, but the need for an autopsy made that impossible. The one thing they'd hoped to do that would give them some comfort in his death was a choice not available to them.

How will they recover from this? Can you ever heal from a loss of this magnitude?

When they moved him down to Mobile after he graduated from college, I'm sure that they worried about many things, the same kinds of things we all worry about as parents. He could be in a car accident. He could be in a plane crash. He could be diagnosed with a terminal illness.

But this, THIS is not one of the things you worry about happening to your kids, in general. How can you emotionally or mentally prepare yourself for violent crime to take away one of your children? It's so far out of my frame of reference that I can't begin to process it, even several days later.

All day yesterday, I tried to keep things "normal" for my kids. The only departure from Normal was that I sat Nathaniel and Nicholas down after lunch and explained to them what had happened, and I asked them to not play with toy guns for the next several days out of respect for our family and for me in particular. (I've never liked them playing the shoot-em-up games, but I've never been able to break them of it, either.) They somberly agreed.

We had Jake's birthday party planned for 1:30, and I wanted to have it. Quite frankly, I NEEDED a diversion from my other thoughts, and we'd only invited two families, so the guest list was short. The party was brief and sweet, yet tinged with sadness.

Ironically, even though I'd just hosted the birthday party, as I drove over to Kathryn and Ben's house in the late afternoon, I was completely offended by everyone ELSE in the world going about their lives like normal. I remember feeling the same way when Jake was in the hospital and the ICU windows looked out over a McDonald's. "How DARE you be getting a Quarter Pounder right now? MY CHILD IS IN THE HOSPITAL."

Yesterday I was also completely irrational about it. "How can you pump gas so nonchalantly? MY COUSIN WAS SHOT AND KILLED."

"You're seriously going into Stein Mart? Have you not HEARD? MY COUSIN JUST DIED."

"PW is still posting pictures in her macro photo contest? That is so insensitive. OUR KYSER IS GONE."

And when Krista Vernoff was still Tweeting answers to people's Grey's Anatomy questions last night, I really about lost it. Apparently I have completely lost all perspective when it comes to other people's lives moving on in the wake of tragedy in my own personal life.

Harry, me, Ky

And there's been another shift in my thoughts that I didn't anticipate, but which I shared with Harry yesterday (because I don't have to filter with him) ... I've never really known where I stand on the death penalty. But all of a sudden, I'm pretty sure I'm For it.


Erin said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Your family will be in my prayers. I wish you all peace and a flood of sweet memories of Kyser to help you get through this awful time.

Lacy said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Please know that you and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers. While we'll never understand why, this is all a part of God's plan. Although I don't really "know" you, I'm sending my hugs and prayers your way! Our house was broken into three years ago and luckily we weren't home. I will never understand why but I know that I've become a better, stronger person because of it. I felt the same way you do- why are people moving on, going on about life, etc... I think it's perfectly normal for you to feel that way! Please let me know if I can help you in any way!

Patrice said...

I don't know, Katherine. I think horribly awful tragic unimaginable things happen and there is no point. And it's definitely NOT God's plan. You know I've wrestled with this exact thing, and none of it makes sense and you'll probably never get answers. All I've learned is that somehow, some way, you do manage to get through it and God does give you indescribable peace (even if you don't feel it at first), and HE HURTS RIGHT ALONG WITH YOU. This is NOT part of his plan. The part where you see Kyser again and go running into his arms and have ETERNITY together - now THAT part is God's. I love you and I don't want to throw all the trite stuff in your face. I just love you and I want you to know that. And sometimes you just have to cuss and go kick in a wall or bust your headlights, and I think that is PERFECTLY okay.

Natalie said...

I am so very sorry for your loss. I have had acousin pass away in an avalanche and I still wonder how could that be a part of Gods plan. I know in the end we will all get the answers that we still seek in this life...but something so senseless and tragic...I am at a loss for words. I am pretty sure that once people are personally affected by a sensless thing like this..they are never the same. I hope that you will have the strength to make it through it all ..and like you said yesterday..hug your kids a little tighter tonight.

CCB said...

Well, i am reading this in puddles. Katherine, this is SO sad. I am so very sad for you and sorry for the loss of your cousin's precious life. I cannot believe things like this happen. And I SO get what you mean about how life goes on, and by gosh, that is just NOT ok sometimes. Please know that I will be saying special prayers for you and your family.

Melissa said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Your family will be in my prayers. Everyone knows that what you are feeling is perfectly normal. It is good that you have all those wonderful memories of Kyser.

RLR said...

Oh, Katherine.... I am so very sorry for your loss, and will continue to pray for you and your family.

Beth, Joshua, Isabella, McKinley and AnnaKate said...

I'm so sorry... there are no words.

Rachel said...

My heart ACHES for you all! It brings up the pain fresh again for my family. My 18 year old nephew was killed a year and a half ago by a drunk driver. You've never heard such beautiful music coming from a piano unless our Daniel was playing. Our prayers and hugs are with you. My AJ will still crawl up in my lap and talk about how he misses Daniel. Wish we could give you a hug in real life.

HandyFamily said...

I am so sorry to hear of your heart-breaking loss.

Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

Thank you, everyone, so much. It means more than you know that you are thinking of and praying for us right now.

Frugal Home Designs said...

I am so very sorry for your loss. There are not any words. I will keep your family in my thoughts.

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