Living With Don Johnson


Posted on: June 25, 2012

So, here is something that I don’t understand. And the reason that I don’t understand it is because I have never had a pet die. Okay, I’ve had a hamster and some fish die, but that is totally different since I couldn’t really play with my hamster (he was a mean mean mean hamster), and I couldn’t play with my fish. Althought, Wendy did once try to play with her fish. I had a dog, Glory, with my exhusband, but he kept the dog in the divorce (and then gave her away). And Fez ran away before we left Texas. Neither animal died while living in my home.

Over the year that I have worked at the bookstore, there have been people whose pets have died. And each time, they have called out from work for several days. This is something that I’m trying to be sympathetic about. But I just don’t get it. In my head (and I think this each and everytime it happens at work), I think “It was just a dog or a cat. It’s not like it was your kid or a parent or a sibling.” Dogs and cats can be replaced.

When my brother died, if I hadn’t had to fly home to help my mom, I would have been at work the next day because I’m a grown up and I still have responsibilities to work and other people that have to be met and taken care of. As it was, I felt bad about leaving so suddenly because our manager was gone and we were already short stafffed.

I don’t understand it. And I don’t understand it because I haven’t gone through it. I have lost a brother though. So, please forgive me if I don’t give you any sympathy when I see you crying hysterically over your cat/dog/bird. Don’t ever tell me “You know what I’m going through because your brother died.” Puh-lease. Are you going to lump the death of my brother into the same category as your pet? I think not. They are not the same.


On a much lighter note, Don Johnson and I went to see Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter the other day. It was a fantastic movie. I had my reservations going in to it. I thought that it was going to be really campy and stupid. Kinda like ‘Cowboys & Aliens.’ Boy was I wrong! This was a very well made movie. I enjoyed it much more than I enjoyed Snow White & the Huntsman. So far, Abe Lincoln is in the number 2 slot for our favorite movies this year. Avengers is in the number 1 slot, obviously. We’re also looking forward to the Dark Knight movie which comes out in July. I want to go see Rock of Ages, but I’m not sure if I can convince Don Johnson to go with me or not. I might be seeing that one by myself. He wants to go see ‘Ted’ when it comes out. I think it looks incredibly stupid. So, I probably won’t go see that one.


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Posted on: June 9, 2012

Today (Saturday, the night I am writing this. But, it will probably get posted on Sunday) is 4 weeks since Douglas died suddenly. It still feels extremely surreal. I imagine it feels the same way for my mom. It probably feels worse for her than it does for me. I didn’t talk to Doug every day or even every week. We’d probably text once a month or so. We saw each other once a year on our traditional 4th of July vacations with my parents. He and mom sent text messages every day, and they saw each other weekly. So, I know that it is hard for my mom. I

I can sometimes forget that he is gone because, while I love(d) him, he wasn’t a part of my everyday life. So, I haven’t had that part of my life disrupted. I feel terrible for saying that sometimes I can forget. It doesn’t mean that I miss him any less or that I loved him any less. It does mean that when I do think about it or something triggers a memory, it hits me hard each time. My friend, Kristi, was watching the Memorial Day Concert on TV and told me there was a song (If the Sun Comes Up) by Trace Adkins that made her think of everything that had happened recently. I waited to watch it when it was replayed on the PBS station out here, and I was bawling like a baby because the song hit home.

It’s rough. And there is no handbook or rules on how to handle a situation like this, so we are all just floundering along and hoping that one day we will find a new normal. I wish I knew what day that was gonna be. I’d love to be able to count down to that day and know that on this particular day, I’m going to wake up and life will feel normal again.

They say that funerals bring out the best or the worst in people. I have found that to be true. Sometimes, it also brings out the crazy, but I won’t go into that here. That will be a locked blog post that will happen in the future; hopefully, it won’t take me too long to get that posted. Some of my friends from high school and college really stepped up to the plate to help out. Karen came down the day we made funeral arrangements. Kristi brought food the first night I was back in Killeen, and she read my post about Doug at the funeral. My Head Start and Starbucks coworkers helped by picking me up from the airport and bringing food. I won’t go into the worst either. That will probably be a part of that password protected post in the future.

I was out there in Killeen for a week. I don’t think that anyone has any idea of how difficult it is to have to pick out a burial plot for your younger sibling. It is something that no one should ever have to do unless they are 90 years old already. But, I did it, and I survived. And there was a lot of thought that went in to where Doug was placed. We were good friends with the Tuthill family when we attended Immanuel Lutheran Church in Killeen. I babysat the 3 Tuthill children for many years. Becky, the mom, died a couple of years ago, and she is buried in the same cemetery. There was a plot available right in front of Becky. I picked that spot so that Doug would be close to someone he knew. The logical part of my brain knows and understands that the Doug I grew up with really isn’t in that casket it is just his shell. So, I know that the body in the casket really didn’t care about where or how it was buried. But, the mommy part of my brain and heart needed to know that he was next to someone he knew.  The day of the funeral, I didn’t want to leave the cemetery because I felt like I was abandoning him. Me, who was prepared to fight the doctors when he was an infant to keep them from taking him away from me, had left him there all by himself. How could I have done that? We went back to the cemetery the next day, and I saw how close he was buried to Becky, and my mom and I talked about it. We knew that Becky was a mom and that her kids were the most important things in the world to her. So we knew that Becky would look out for Doug. That made me feel a lot better about leaving him there.

I don’t know if it was fate or Doug or just coincidence, but we had 3 funny things happen during the funeral service and immediately afterwards. When I was growing up, my mom always mentioned that things seem to happen in 3s. Famous people always seem to die in sets of 3. During the funeral, a Bud Light truck drove by. Doug was a good German kid and liked his beer. And a school bus drove by the gravesite (Doug was in his first year of teaching). And as we were driving away from the cemetery, some teenagers were playing catch with a football, and they threw the football over the limo as we were driving away. Were they signs from Doug? I don’t know for sure, but each event did make us smile and think about him. Just this week, we were in Vegas. As I was walking through the casino at Caesar’s Palace, the TVs switched to the Mariner’s game right as I walked by. Vegas was the last place that Doug and I spent time together.

It was hard telling Wendy why I was gone for a week. She cried. I wasn’t sure how I was going to tell her initially, but I remembered that we’d talked about her great-grandma dying a couple of years ago, so I brought that up and transitioned into Douglas from there. I knew that she’d have a hard time dealing with it. So, I had a stuffed animal that belonged to Doug to give to Wendy. And I told her that she could write a letter to Doug and send it up to Heaven on some balloons. So, we did that. We got blue and green balloons to send Wendy’s letter up to Heaven. That seemed to help her. The day Wendy released the balloons was also the same day as the eclipse. We took Wendy up to a park in Palos Verdes in an attempt to view the eclipse. We were having some difficulties since we couldn’t find the eclipse glasses, but then something cool happened. As we were sitting there waiting for the moon to get into place, the fog rolled in. And the marine layer moved in. This acted as a filter for the eclipse. We could see the eclipse without needing sun protection. It was so cool. There was just enough fog to see the eclipse but not enough that we couldn’t see the sung. It was pretty neat. As we were packing up, Wendy says “Mom, I know why that eclipse happened.” I asked her why she thought the eclipse happened. She says “That was Uncle Doug’s way of telling me that he got my letter.” I got choked up a bit, and I had to agree with her because thinking that Uncle Doug got her letter meant so much to her, and I wasn’t going to take that away from her.

Don, Wendy, and I flew back to Killeen last week. We had the tickets and it seemed a shame to let them go to waste since my mom had promised Wendy a shopping spree for her birthday. We went to visit my grandparents while we were in town. That was hard. Growing up, my grandma was my most favoritest person in the entire world. I grew up having her tell me that the sun rose and set for me. Every single time she saw me, she’d tell me that. And she’d sing me “K-k-k-k-Katy.” She didn’t do that this time. She’s been having some memory issues for the last couple of years. So, while I was visiting my Grandma, it still didn’t feel like I was visiting my Grandma. That was really hard. She had a certain way of laughing and saying “Oh, Katie” when she was going to tell me something funny or crazy. And she didn’t do that. While I saw her, it didn’t feel like I was actually visiting MY grandma (if that makes any sense).  The constants in my life are changing. They aren’t so constant anymore. My mom is a constant. That constant hasn’t changed. Being the center of my grandma’s universe was a constant (or at least being told that I was the center of the universe was the constant). That did change.

I know that life changes as we get older. I just wish it didn’t change this much. I don’t care for change.

27 years

Posted on: May 13, 2012

How do you sum up 27 years of life into a few paragraphs? It isn’t possible. And I never thought it was possible. And yet, I find myself having to do just that. You see, my baby brother, Douglas, died suddenly on Saturday. It came as quite a shock to all of us. We are still walking around in a fog. How do you summarize the life of someone who held such a large piece of your life. To be honest, you can’t. I’m going to try though.

I met Douglas when he was born. He was late, but he was worth it. He was sick when he was born and had to spend some time in the NICU. The only problem? Douglas was about 10 times the size of the other babies in the NICU. And ,I at 3 years old, was not going to let those doctors take my baby away. I wedged my little 3 year old body in the doorway to try and stop them from taking him out of the room.

Douglas and I had the typical brother sister relationship growing up. He’d pick on me, and I’d pick on him. But, when it came down to it, he was always there to stick up for me even though he was littler.

Douglas was always quick with a joke or a “funny” as we called them growing up. When we lived in Germany, it snowed one day, and he was up on the kitchen table looking out the window, and he saw the tire prints from a car that had just driven out into the snow. He pointed them out to my mom and said “look, carprints.”

We grew up in a military family, so Douglas grew up with the toy soldiers and army men. He wanted to be an Army man one day, so he dressed up in his camo shirt, and my mom used tape to put some rank on his shoulders. Doug insisted that they be put on his knees. Mom wanted to know why, and his answer was logical. He couldn’t see the rank if it was on his shoulders, but he could see the rank if it was on his knees.

Like every family, we have stories that we are quick to whip out when needed. One of our favorites was when Doug was learning how to read and spell. This was the year he was just a little interested in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. What he wanted more than anything was the blimp. My mom was spelling it out to my grandmother and Doug told Mom that he could spell. She said okay and asked what she’d spelled. Doug sat a minute going over the letters in his head. And he was so proud when he figured it out. “It’s the ba-lump. The Ninja Turtle Ba-lump”. They have been ba-lumps ever since.  That Goodyear thing that flies over the Superbowl and sporting events? That’s the Goodyear Ba-lump.

I had the pleasure of working with my brother as an adult when we were both working at Starbucks. No one believed that we were related. And we made an awesome team. He actually helped get me the job at Starbucks. And we were always in competition with each other to see if we could be the best.

Speaking of coffee, Douglas was a huge coffee lover. And I think he is perfect proof that coffee does not stunt your growth. I think he started drinking coffee at the age of 3 or 4. There was no turning back.

You could always count on Doug for some piece of useless knowledge. We think he memorized the cards from a Trivial Pursuit game because that seems to be the only place those facts would be useful. I’d often send him a text message asking for the date of some event or a measurement conversion.

One thing all of his friends and family know is Doug’s love of anything Seattle. He was a lifelong Seahawks and Mariners fan. He was elated when the Seahawks made it to the Superbowl. And he was always in season. You would rarely ever catch him in a baseball jersey during football season and vice versa. He was very insistent that you stayed in season.

He was finally reaching the grown up part of his life. He’d graduated college and was in his first year of teaching. And he was about to get married. Maritza, he loved you so much. We were all looking forward to celebrating his new life with you. And now we just celebrate his life.

My brother was so many things to so many different people. He was a teacher and an artist. He was an uncle and a nephew. A son and a grandson. And the world won’t be the same without him.

I love you Douglas. And I miss you so much. You will always and forever be my baby brother.  And while I know you hated the song, it just feels right to sing it to you one more time before you go to sleep.

It’s almost night night time. Let’s put our jammies on. It’s time to brush your teeth and kiss your dad and mom.

Sleep tight little brother.

Yesterday while I was at work, I went to send Don Johnson a text message to see how his day was going. My phone wasn’t working. I turned it off, took out the battery, and adjusted the sim card. It still didn’t work. I went down to the AT&T store to see if they could tell me what what wrong with my phone.

The lady at the AT&T store was absolutely no help at all. I had a friend send Don Johnson a text letting him know that my phone wasn’t working.

I got home last night after work and had Don Johnson take a look at my phone. Earlier, he’d decided he was going to tell me in an interesting way. He pretended to look at my phone and then told me to go stand by the window to see if I was able to get reception closer to the window. He then called me phone, and I heard it ringing, but it wasn’t ringing on the phone I was holding in my hand. He had to call it a few times for me to find the ringing box. I was shocked and couldn’t believe it.

Don Johnson, in all of his techie-ness, refurbished a broken iphone 4 for me. He was able to put a custom back on the phone, so I finally have a purple phone.

I’m very excited about it. I have been playing with it all morning.


Just wanted to wish my mom a very happy birthday. She is the most amazing woman I know. Wish we could come celebrate with you.


Kate, Don, and the Darling children

So, I decided to use a prompt today. I glanced through a few prompts on line and found a few that I liked. These prompts may pop up every so often if I run into writer’s block. Today’s prompt asked “Who are the people who have had the greatest impact on your life?”

Let’s start this out with the most obvious one, Don Johnson. He’s the reason behind the name of my blog. He has had an impact on my life because he is my husband. I met him a couple of years after my divorce. I was at a point where I wasn’t looking for someone to date. We met through a mutual friend. And I had no plans to date him at all. Life took its course, and here we are. Don reminded me that friendship is an important part of a marriage. Yes, you need to love your spouse, but you also need to be friends with each other.

Let’s jump from one husband to the previous husband, the ex. It does seem surprising that I’d list my ex husband as someone who has had an impact on my life. But, he has had an impact. I won’t go into a lot of details here, but good or bad, he has had an impact on my life. It is because of him that Don Johnson and I have Wendy. Wendy wouldn’t be here without the ex.

Wendy has had an impact on my life. The day she was born, my heart no longer beat inside of my body. It was now ensconced in the little 7 pound 4 ounce person in my arms. 7 and a half years later, I still find that sentiment to be true.

Another set of people I have to include would be my grandparents. I was the only granddaughter for many years, and it was a role that was rather difficult to share when my cousin Chelsea came along. When I was growing up, my grandma always told me that the sun rose and set for me. Every single child on this planet needs to feel that at least once. When you hear that, you can’t help but feel like you can take on the world and win. Wendy is lucky enough to have her Nana make her feel that way.

And  last but certainly not least on this list is Nana, my mom, and my dad. I had the best childhood growing up. We didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up. We were a military family, and military families are never rolling in the dough. My brother and I thought that ‘generic’ was a brand name. And we proudly rocked our generic jeans. We never went without. We always had amazing birthday parties. And we always got presents on Christmas and Easter. My brother and I grew up knowing that we could count on my mom to go to bat for us if needed. We were always told that while she might not always agree with our decisions, she would support them. And she would always be there to give us a safe place to land. My dad, while not being my biological dad, has always been supportive. And it is strange how alike we are. For many years, I was the only person in my family who liked apple butter. Now, I’m not the only one. I count myself pretty lucky to have Nana and Popsi as part of my life.

There you have it. The short list of people who have had an impact on my life. Who would be on your list?

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