Posted by: donrhymer | February 21, 2013

Land Mines and Valentines

I’m a “glass half full” person.  I always have been – it’s just my nature.  I choose to see the good in most people and most situations.

This is new territory for me.  It’s hard to see life as a beautiful meadow of wild flowers, when right now I envision life as a huge field full of land mines.  Family traditions and holidays.  Good things that make up life, but land mines nonetheless.   Some are buried deep underground, have been there for years, and are marked with flags that say “Valentines Day”, “Carrie’s College Graduation”, or “Our 30th Wedding Anniversary”.  And although I know they are there, I can’t avoid them.  I step on one and immediately I fall in the hole.  “That’s the thing about pain.  It demands to be felt”, from “The Fault in Our Stars”.  How true that is.  And as hard as it is, there is a need in me to feel the acuity of the pain, the sharpness of it.

On Valentine’s Day, I woke up to Andrew in the kitchen fixing me breakfast in bed – he learned well from his dad.  (Or maybe he’s been watching too much Downton Abbey – I’m not really sure which.)  It felt like a handful of dirt being thrown into the hole – a kindness – in an attempt to fill up the cavity, to lessen the pain just a little bit.  The kids (I’m sure Molly and Scarlett were the ringleaders) bought me a lovely Tiffany bracelet with the infinity/eternity symbol on it.  Another handful of dirt tossed in the hole.  In the evening we went to the home of some friends for dinner.  Besides the fact that Jim’s meal would rival some of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten in – it provided a relaxing and enjoyable evening with friends and family.  I felt cared for and loved.  The hole was a little fuller by the time we got home.

Sometimes the land mines are just under the surface; they don’t have flags or markers.  The blast from these is often stronger, because I don’t see it coming.  I go to the coat closet to get a raincoat and see Don’s Dodger jacket.  I fall in the hole.  I am leaving Trader Joe’s and the song “Oh How Happy You Have Made Me” is playing as I go out the door.  I have to run to my car.  I am putting laundry away and end up lying on the floor of Don’s closet.  I’m startled by how quickly I can become undone.

Carrie’s 22nd and Don’s 52 birthdays are this weekend.  She was born on his 30th birthday, and was always his favorite birthday present.  There will be no avoiding this bittersweet occasion, nor will we even try.  Don loved birthdays.  He was the one who started the “birthday tree” tradition at our house – all the presents go under the ficus tree by the front door.  Carrie will be in Boston, and I’m not yet sure how she’ll choose to spend her day.  On this coast maybe we will go to the beach, one of Don’s favorite places.  When Carrie comes home for spring break in a few weeks, we’ll all go out to dinner and raise a glass to Don.  We’ll even have dessert and cappuccino after, assuring a long, leisurely evening, just like Don loved.  Hopefully the hole won’t feel quite so deep.

I miss him more than I ever imagined would be possible.  There will always be land mines, and holes to fall in to.  Maybe someday I’ll learn to walk around them.  But for now, a little handful of dirt sure goes a long way.

– Kate



  1. Even though he is no longer with us, hearing stories about Don continue to encourage me to be a better husband, a better father and a better person. Thanks Don, and thank you Kate for sharing.

  2. Oh, Kate, may your holes not be too deep! My heart goes with you and your family. The holes will always be there but maybe one day you will be able to walk around them. Much love…

  3. Don wasn’t the only writer int he family. What a beautiful way to express grief. I’ve felt, and I know you have to, the holes that our mothers left behind. I still find myself throwing a little dirt in that hole and it’s been 29 years. I’ll throw a little more in when Emily graduates from high school this year, an occasion Mom would’ve loved to have attended. Please know that I pray for you and your family every day that the peace and comfort that the Lord brings is with you every morning when you wake up and every evening when you fall asleep. Finding joy in the hard times can be really. . . hard sometimes. Mary
    P.S. Don would’ve loved that you wrote that so beautifully!!

  4. Ouch. And, lovely.

    Land mines are a bitch. They are everywhere because Don lived so well, and for so many of us.

    Your biggest fan-

  5. Kate, I’d do anything to be able to instantly fill all those holes for you, right now, this minute. I know that’s not possible. But I pray that God’s grace will carry you around, over and through whatever land mines you encounter.
    Love you!

  6. Kate, Beautiful words, and so very poignant. We continue to walk with you and the kids…not a day goes by that we don’t think and say a little prayer for all of you. You are so on our hearts this weekend. We love you all, Shelley


  7. Wow. And Don called himself a writer. Beautifully written and expressed, Kate. I’m so glad you’re still posting so we can continue to be reminded of this great guy and his impact on all of us.

  8. We watch you every day, live life alongside you and the kids and we are always amazed. Amazed by your perseverance, amazed by your honesty and even more amazed at how you continue to touch others even in your grief. Our loss of Don is so acute, so evident every day but you and the kids allow everyone to share your joy and your pain. This my friend is a reflection of a love that has been fostered by you and Don-a selfless giving love that continues after his death. Not everyone is able to do that and we have always been grateful for that gift. Love you forever, Dave and Kathy

  9. With time those landmines & holes will turn into a smile when you remember the happier times – and those snarky one liners only Don could pull off.

  10. Kate, My eyes are full of tears, but my brain is simply without words. You and your family are in our thoughts, and prayers.

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