Posted by: donrhymer | March 25, 2013


That’s a Don Rhymer word.  After he got sick, and would travel to New York for business, he would call and tell me he felt untethered.  He described feeling like he was hanging out there on his own with nothing to hold on to.  We had become so accustomed to being together during his treatment.  And there he was across the country and I wasn’t with him.

I just returned from a whirlwind trip to Boston to see Carrie in the final play of her Emerson College career.  She was brilliant in a show written by her wonderfully talented friend Dan.  Her southern accent would have made her dad so proud.  Jill flew up for one performance, and Kelly, Don’s sister, came to town to see the show as well.   It even snowed on opening night.  We were all sure it was a sign that Don wanted us to know that he was indeed right there with us.

After meeting Carrie for a late lunch Thursday afternoon, I decided to wander through campus on my way back to the hotel.  “Campus” is a word used loosely at Emerson, because it is essentially a bunch of buildings across the street from Boston Common.  I wandered past the dorm where Carrie lived as a freshman, and remembered unloading an ungodly number of boxes from our rental car.  I passed restaurants where we had eaten over the past four years; hotels where Don and I had stayed.  The bookstore where we bought countless Emerson sweatshirts.  Sitting in the Common on a beautiful spring day.  So many memories.

Somewhere along Boylston Street I started to cry.  I was alone, undone.  Missing Don terribly.  I put my head down and quietly wept as I walked.  It was pretty cold, and people were bundled up, so I assumed no one would notice me.

All of a sudden a homeless man was in front of me, a paper cup in his hand.  I shook my head no, and tried to move past him.  He looked me straight in the eye, saw I was crying and said, “Are you ok??”  Again, I shook my head no.  As I kept walking I heard him behind me say “Give it to God”.  Through my tears I shook my head yes.

The humanity of a homeless man had broken through my agony.  I saw that my pain, bold and searing, is not the only pain in the world.

I made it back to the hotel, where I had a really good cry with Jill.  Carrie was brilliant again in her next performance.   Kelly and I spent our last night with cosmopolitans and cucumber drinks crying over memories and telling stories.

I now understand what Don meant by feeling “untethered”.   I feel I am grasping at something to hold on to; something to make me feel secure and safe.  And I am beginning to understand that pain and sadness are in some profound way what is connecting me to him right now.  There is laughter, and there are stories, but it’s the acuteness of the pain that I need to feel.  The deepness of the love we had for each other.  For now, that’s my tether.

And the homeless man with the empty Starbucks cup?  He’s a simple reminder that life is much bigger than my own little corner of the world.

– Kate



  1. Beautiful words and magnificient proof that we are eternal beings created by a God that surely feels our pain.

    Thanks! Albert Tibbetts m703.868.9907


  2. Thank you for sharing this, Kate. So beautifully written, profound, and inspiring. Sending up another prayer for you right now.

  3. So profound and lovely. Just as Don enriched us by allowing us to walk with him and learn from him throughout his cancer journey, you, too, are enriching us by letting us travel the painful journey to healing with you. Walking with you with great love!

  4. Kate, I just wanted to let you know that I’m praying for you. I remember back in college when I came my freshman year mad at the world because my parents were divorcing, my mom was sick and my home life was a mess. You were such an encouragement to me with your sweet, uplifting spirit even though your mom had just died that summer. It was that influence that really led me to the Lord. I want to be that encouragment to you now. If you ever find yourself near Tidewater, VA, come visit. I wish you were close enough for me to give you a hug!! I guess a long distance virtual hug will have to do. Love you girl!! Mary

  5. I am praying that God sends His angels to minister to you right now, Kate.
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart.

  6. Oh, my dear sweet friend, Kate! It’s Monday morning,and I am now a blubbering mess as I read your beautiful words. It’s the beginning of Holy Week. What a beautiful reminder you have given us: pain, injustice,humanity, hope and redemption. I love you, friend!

  7. You are making me cry, too; but, you always let grace shine through. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

  8. Hello Mommy #2. I was so happy to share that snowfall with you on opening night. I often feel Don’s spirit around Boston, but that night his presence was overwhelming. I am so grateful for your insight- you inspire me everyday.

  9. We are just spiritual beings having a human experience….Feel the love, embrace the pain, stay calm and carry on….that’s my mantra…Blessings to you and the family as you celebrate Easter…I will be holding you close.

  10. Kate, that was beautiful. Aren’t our sweetest teachers the ones we don’t expect? The pain will always be there but the laughter and the preciousness of Don will come in to share the space. Stay with your feet on the ground and it will catch your tears.

  11. Amen!! When I’ve gone through hard times, my dad would always quote a verse in the Bible.. “be still and know that I am God”. Its not always easy to do but the more you’re given opportunities to do so, the easier it becomes. Thinking of you:) love you, katie

  12. Absolutely beautiful. Stay strong Mrs. Rhymer!

    Kaitlin Fuelling

  13. And people thought Don was the writer. Kate, this is stunning. Thank you. May God continue to show up for you daily, in ways entirely unexpected. It is an honor to call you friend. Prayers continue from our whole family. We love you.

  14. I’m so sorry you are in such pain – your expression of it has touched us all. Our thoughts are with you Kate.
    Hopefully this weird dream I had of Don two nights ago will at least give you a smile…
    We used to grab lunch at his favorite Chinese place, Fortune and would use that diagonal crossing at the light on Raymond & Colorado. So in the dream we’re in that intersection and suddenly, Don’s in a tuxedo – and so am I. We look around and the street is lined with people waiting for the Rose Parade. I look at him with a “what are we doing here?” He smiles back and says “Hey, let’s get people to pay to watch the parade. And let’s make it $2.23 – exact change.” I shake my head and laugh. He then starts asking the crowd for exact change – they look at him like he’s crazy. It was hilarious and he looked happy and healthy. He was moving around almost like Gene Kelly. Although Don in a tuxedo is a bit frightening, I enjoyed seeing him again.

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