Terrible, Thanks for Asking

David’s Excellently Sad Adventure - Transcript

This is a transcript of a “Terrible, Thanks for Asking” episode entitled “David’s Excellently Sad Adventure.” The text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future for accuracy. Listen to the episode here.

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Nora: Doo, doo dooo. Okay. Not gonna step on rocks, because I heard that there are scorpions underneath them around here in these Arizona nights. It’s like 90 degrees, which is honestly perfect. I am… I am just loving it here, guys. I’m sorry to break it to you, but it’s true. Okay, it is recording. Okay. Here we go.

I’m Nora McInerny, and this is “Terrible, Thanks for Asking,” and I swear to goodness if I ever describe grief as a journey, you can kick me in the ankle. The ankle is an incredibly sensitive body part. I recently walked into a table and somehow hit only my ankle bone. That was true pain.

But it’s so tempting to call grief a journey. I mean, you go places! Dark places, mainly. And then, when you’re feeling up to it, you go to therapy or maybe to the bank. Maybe the grocery store, looking like trash and feeling worse. But at least you’re out of the house!

Journeys, however, have a beginning, a middle and an end. Grief has a beginning and a middle and then it never ends. It just stops being the compass by which you steer your life. 

This episode, though? It is a journey.

This is David. David met his wife Katie in high school, which… who does that! Dozens of people, apparently!

Katie and David were both high school kids who liked cars, which… to me, there’s cars, trucks, vans, end of list. That’s what cars are to me. But not for David and Katie. They are car people. They’re car nerds.

David: Katie and I have always liked cars. We both drive — we both, you know, drove stick shift cars back in high school. She had a... I want to say '96 maybe '94 Acura Integra. They called it the “Black-ura,” because it was black. And we just loved cars. And I think I had a 2006 Mazda RX8, which is this weird little sports car. I've always had sort of a soft spot for unknown, weird cars. Like, I never wanted a Corvette or you know, or a Mustang or anything like that. They've just always seemed, I don't know, too common.

So, David had been in love with Katie since age 17, but they were on and off again in college. David went to school in Houston. Katie went to school in Steubenville, Ohio. And they’d visit back and forth. They’d break up, and they’d get back together. 

David: Kyle picked me up from the airport. He's like, “David, this is a bad idea. You literally have the 45 minutes from the airport to campus to convince me that this is a good idea, or I'm gonna turn right back around and take you right back to the airport.” And somehow I convinced him and then you know, I... I found, like, a quiet place on campus, and I wrote her this letter, and I found some, you know, we went and I got some flowers. And I went to her dorm and I like, you know, tried to find her, and she had left campus for the weekend. 

But it all works out eventually. After graduation, Katie and David are engaged. And before they’re officially married, they go through premarital counseling with their pastor. Premarital counseling is like sitting down with someone and answering a bunch of questions about your future marriage, which doesn’t exist yet.

David: He asked me, “Why do you want to marry Katie?” And I said, “I don't know. I mean, to make her happy. I want — I want to make her happy.” And he sort of jumps on us, like, you know, “Are you going to be happy when, you know, your kid’s got a broken leg and you're in the emergency room and you don't have health insurance?” and, you know, just sort of laying out this doomsday scenario.

The point Father Bill wanted to make was that marriage is not about happiness, and marriage is hard. And David and Katie and young and they’re like, “Okay!” So Katie and David get married, and they have four children together. And they have this beautiful life 

where they live just a few blocks from Katie’s parents, which is good because they have four children! And they spend their free time — at least two weekends a month — up at Katie’s parents’ cabin in the Texas hill country.

David: And so, every day is chaos, but up there at the lake, it's at least calmer chaos, because, you know, the kids have some space run around and, you know, they can play in the water, and her parents are there, so we have two extra adults to help, you know, make meals and change diapers, and everything that goes along with, with, with having four kids. I remember sitting on the porch out there in the adirondack chairs with... with Katie. I think her parents were inside. And I remember just thinking to myself — I think even said, said out loud to her — like this is, this is too good. What's… like... what? Something's gotta happen. Something's… like… people don't get this lucky. People don't get to have lives this… what's the word? Um. Charmed. It's just… it's too good. 

Katie disagrees. If David is the one who always has to be doing something, always keeping busy, Katie is the one who can just BE. Because life isn’t too good. It’s just life. It’s good, and it’s horrible, and most importantly, it is subject to change without notice. 

And that’s what David and Katie’s life does. That’s what life always does, by the way. It just changes. Not because you’ve jinxed it, or because you haven’t appreciated it enough, or because you’ve somehow done something to deserve it. It just changes. 

After their fourth child was born, Katie had some pain in her right abdomen. And she assumed, because that birth was a toughie, that she’d pushed too hard and had a hernia. By the time they got around to finally going to see a surgeon, the surgeon felt around and agreed — “Yeah, feels like a hernia. Let’s get you scheduled for a surgery. It should only take about 30 minutes, no big deal.”

The day of the surgery, David brings Katie in. They take some silly photos together, and he settles into the waiting room for what he expects to be a half hour. And when you’ve got four kids, a half hour alone, even in a waiting room? You could read a whole… a whole part of a magazine! Not a whole magazine, but a whole part of it! 

David: It was supposed to be a thirty-minute surgery and it was an hour, an hour and a half, or two hours later. I’m like, what is going on? He finally comes out. And I'm sitting there in the waiting room, you know. And there's other families around, like just, you know, comes out to give an update on the surgery and he says, you know, “I did not find a hernia when I went in. I found a tumor about the size of my fist. I've removed it. And I've removed the section of — so it was on her appendix. But it was also attached to her large intestines, and so I've removed that section of large intestine and then sewn the two halves back together. I'm sewing her back up. And, you know, she should be out in half an hour.” And, and I remember asking him, “So you said tumor, are you worried that it's cancer?” And he kind of looked at me and said, “Yeah, that's my concern.” 

And there — right there — is one of those changes. Katie doesn’t have a hernia. She has cancer. They aren’t just a family of 6. They’re a family of 6… with cancer. 

David: The whole experience of cancer is, um...I don't know how to describe it, but it feels communal, almost. Like… like, you're… you're receiving that news, because the news isn't just about, you know, is she going to live or die? The news is about, are my kids going to grow up without a mother? Or am I going to be single, you know, again? Are her parents going to lose their daughter? You know, it's all those things wrapped up in this little test result, right? You know, is the scan clear? Are your numbers lower? All that sort of stuff. And so with every little test, it feels like there's just this whole cascade of implications that you've got to work through instantaneously.

The surgery was in Feburary, and for the next few months it’s just a blur of chemo and radiation and prayers and friends and family dropping off food. Katie and David have a blog to update everyone on what’s happening and what it all means, and because it’s America and health care is a privilege, and many, many people are absolutely wrecked by medical debt… a GoFundMe to help them survive financially.

David: And one of the things I said early on was, “Gosh, if there's money left over after we're done with chemo and after all of this is behind us, you know, I would love to take the family on a trip. It would be, it'd be great to take Katie and the kids somewhere where we can just, you know, get away and, and, you know, do something like that together.”

That’s a goal they’re looking forward to. That someday, this will be over! Someday, it will be good again. Someday, they will live outside the walls of MD Anderson Cancer Center and their own home. Oh, and if there’s any money left after that family trip, David is going to find a weird, cool car he’s always wanted. And please know that the words you are about to hear mean nothing to me.

David: It's a V8, 6.2 liter V8, six-speed transmission, and it's four doors, which, hey, I've got kids, I need to be able to put the kids in the back seat.

Nora: Practical!

David: Totally practical. It's uh, it, you know, it looks like a sedan. It's totally boring. Except that it's got a Corvette motor, you know, underneath. So it, so yeah, the Chevy SS was made from 2012 through 2017 — '17 was the last model year. It's actually produced in Australia and imported to America in very small numbers. 

The idea of David buying that car makes Katie laugh, but the trip. That family trip? That could happen. In the meantime, they’re buoyed by their family and friends, by their faith. By the fact that they’re at one of the best cancer treatment centers in the U.S. By August, Katie’s treatment is done. Her scans are clear. And there’s a little money left in the bank, and time once again stretches in front of them. It’s time — not for David to get that cool car that he wants, but for them to hit the road and take a trip. All six of them. 

David: And we, you know, went all over Yosemite, we drove up to up to the mountains. The High Sierra is up there. We just had, we had a great time. We hiked all over. And, and the kids, you know, loved every bit of it.

You don’t always know when you’re making a memory. If we did, we’d be walking around making sure we catalogued the very best moments. The biggest ones, right down to the last detail. Instead, they sort of blend together, some pastiche of feelings and moments smells and song lyrics swirling together in our brains. What rises to the top aren’t always those big moments, but the little ones.

David: We were driving up through the High Sierras so you know, it's an additional, I don't know, 2000 feet of elevation or something like that. And it's snowing up there in October, which is an early snow, or maybe it's leftover from last year. I don't know how it works up there. But our youngest Andrew is not having it with the snow, and he's, you can see the look on his face is just terror. This is too cold. It's uncomfortable. My gloves got wet, you know, I picked up the snow and then my gloves got wet and now my hands are cold and he's just crying and Katie's sort of behind him, holding him but just laughing at the whole scene because, you know, the other kids are playing in the snow. We're all having a good time. And Andrew is just here wailing his heart out.

This trip is an emotional palate cleanser. It’s joy and wonder and the awe of how beautiful the world is outside of our own sad experiences. And near the end, Katie isn’t feeling well. Her right side hurts, and Katie and David both want to believe it’s just surgical pain. But once they’re back from that trip, back at their doctor’s office...

David: A different radiologist looked at it and said, “They missed it. It was sort of hidden back here, and the tumor came back, and it's spreading, and there's more of it. And you look at the trajectory from the surgery back in February to today, seven, eight months later, it's pretty fast growing.”

Time for a break.

We’re back. Katie and David are at the doctor, getting some very bad news about Katie’s cancer. It just… didn’t work. None of it. The chemo, the radiation, the surgery, the prayers, the potlucks.

David: They actually missed a tumor. And it was, she had been growing cancer the whole time, and the chemo had never worked. And so after we learned all of that, we realized that, man, that trip was was the best thing we could have possibly done for these kids 

The celebratory trip meant to mark the start of their new life was not that. It was more of a goodbye trip. There’s pain and beauty in the long goodbye. Katie pours her energy in those last months into designing new landscaping in the front yard. Adding plants and trees and pathways, art directing beauty that she will never get to enjoy herself, supervising the work from her seat on the couch.

David talks to her about death and faith and other important things, like… that car he mentioned earlier. And this time, it’s not a joke. It’s more like an idea. Not for right now, but for after Katie dies.

David: “I've got this idea, like, I think I'm gonna buy one of these and like, take a trip and, and, and get away for a little while.” And I remember that, that specific night when I asked her that, it was, um… it was towards the end, probably two, maybe three weeks before she died. You know, she was in a different space, this wasn't a joke and, and, and she just looked at me and said, “David, I can't tell you whether you should do that or not. You've got to figure that out. That's... you've got to… you know…” And it was, it was one of those moments where, you know, we were just very real with each other, where, you know, we're acknowledging that she's not going to be there to make all those decisions. She's not going to be there to figure out what school should the kids go to, you know, should we move from this house or not? How do we raise the kids in the midst of whatever happens? Those are going to be mine to figure out, and she won't be able to help me. That answer was sort of packed with a lot of meaning, you know, not just, “Eh, whatever, you do whatever you want to drive,” it was, “You're gonna have the responsibility of figuring out how to make life work in my absence.”

Katie died seven months after that trip to Yosemite. Now it’s spring in Texas, and all of the responsibility for figuring out how life works without Katie is on David. There’s a funeral, of course. There are friends and family, and there’s also that same idea he brought up to Katie before. 

David: So I started looking for this car and, you know, looking all around the country, just because you had to open your search up that wide in order to find them. And I found one in Beloit, Ohio — b-e-l-o-i-t?  I don't know, something like that. I remember thinking like, “Where's that?” And I look it up, and it's, you know, half an hour from Steubenville. 

The exact car he wants — in the color he wants, orange — with the features he wants, which I won’t even try to describe, is a half hour from where Katie went to college… and many, many miles away from David and his children.

The expectations of a grieving person are: cry, take care of your obligations, cry, look sad. You are now, above all, a griever.

David: You're not David who lost his high school sweetheart. You're not, you're not a guy who, you know, suddenly feels lost in the world without his best friend. You're not, you know, your parents’ son, who's hurting from, you know, the worst pain that could be inflicted upon, upon a person. You are, you are father to four children. That is that's all that you are. And so I think from the outside, if you frame grief that way, then you have certain expectations, right? That leads to expectations. So if all you are is their father, then your only responsibility is to care for them. Your only responsibility is to, to be what they need, or to fill their juice boxes, or to change diapers. And, I feel like there's a, there's a real risk in allowing myself to be defined that way. 

We’re expected to cross the threshold from our old life to our new life just like that. But it doesn’t happen that way. There’s a lot of time spent in a liminal space where you’re not quite who you were, not quite where you’re going. You need time to metabolize the experience of losing a person you love.

To get that car, David is going to take a break from being a dad. He’s going to need a bit of an on ramp to this new life. And he’s going to take a road trip.

The plan is this: He’ll fly out to the car, meet his friend Kyle, who has known Katie and David since high school, and the two of them will drive the car home. How long will it take? As long as it takes.

Nora: How do you select your road trip partner?

David: My choices were limited by: Who would want to do a trip like that. Who can drive a stick shift. And who could get the time off. So, so really, I mean, I don't want to make it sound like... I certainly don't want Kyle to listen to this and be like, Oh he just sort of landed on me as a last resort.” No, like —

Nora: Kyle, honestly, it was... you were available. Okay?

Steubenville is a funny word to say. Steubenville. And it’s also the place where Katie spent a lot of time becoming the person that David would marry. There’s a certain kind of magic that exists in places where our loved ones lived the other versions of themselves, where the other parts of their life unfolded. Katie isn’t in Steubenville, but she is. Those other Katies are there.

David: It was a place that meant a lot to Katie. You know, that community and that school meant a lot to her. And it was a place that meant a lot to me, too. So it was, we had a lot of sort of pivotal moments there. And so it was almost like a pilgrimage, right? To go back and to, to pray in the places where we prayed and to, you know, walk the paths that we'd walked.

While David’s in Steubenville, he stays with a friend’s parents — people who know what he’s been through, who are sad for him and for Katie and their family but have a different sadness than the one at home. Here, he finds that his host is also a widower. That his host’s first wife died of cancer. That he, too, nursed his loved one until the end. 

David: He got it in a way that nobody I had spoken to until then got it. It was that first moment of, that first kind of glimpse into what life could be after losing your wife. And so that was, that was really good. It was good to get away and sort of not just be in a new space but to get away from everyone's expectations of how you're supposed to be or how you're supposed to grieve. But I think, in a large part, for me, at least it was my projecting what other people expected of me. So, I would... I would think that, “Well, this is how people see me. And so this is what they expect of me.” And then I would, I would judge myself based on that. As opposed to... I'm sure that my own perception of how other people saw me and what they expected of me differed greatly from what they would actually say or what they actually felt.

That’s what this road trip is. It’s a way for David to free himself of any projections or expectations. To just let the experience of grief be whatever it is. David picks Kyle up from the airport and off they go.

David: And so, like, we're almost immediately in the mountains or in the hills. And it's just, you know, we've got the windows down, it's, I don't know, in the 50s outside, and it smells incredible. And we're just, it's just almost, you know, there's... it's one of the things about driving I feel like is that, you know, you've got the road in front of you, and you've got... and then what's behind is, like, you don't have to worry about it. You've passed that. And so all you... all you're worried about, especially in a car like that, you know, with 400 horsepower under your right foot, you’re focused on what's next. You're focused on, you know, is there a turn up ahead? Do I need to be speeding up or slowing down? Do I need to watch out for cops? There's just something kind of, I don't know, zen. Can, can, can I say that? 

There is a deeply philosophical quote from Dom Toretto, a character played by Vin Diesel in the “Fast & The Furious” movie franchise, which is a franchise worth getting deeply invested in. Dom says, and I quote, “I live my life a quarter mile at a time.” And yes, you want to laugh at that, because he’s talking about street racing… but he’s also talking about life, when David was talking, I did think about Dom Toretto and this iconic line because there is something to that — to only living what is right in front of you. What is right now.

And while David’s body and reflexes are focused on the right now, his brain can cycle through all of the thoughts that are just too hot to touch when you’re in the thick of your loved one’s suffering and the aftermath of their death. 

David: I feel like there's so much that goes on in your head when you're trying to process a grief like that. That like it almost gets... I don't know, like, all your thoughts and all your grief and all your frustration and anxiety, it all can get jumbled up and not, you know, like you can't process any of it because it's all there at the same time. And so the driving, you know, it's kind of like taking a shower, right? It's where you, you know, for that moment your… your brain sort of unfreezes and is able to take one thing and process it and leave the rest away. Because the only space that's left after the involvement of driving that car is just enough to process one thing. And so you can kind of think about that while you're driving, and you know if you need to talk about a little bit, I've got Kyle there talking about it. And if you just need to be silent and think to yourself for a while, and then do that, too. It's almost one of those things where you need to reduce the processing power that you can allocate to the grief in order to properly work through it.

David’s brain has time on these long drives, his best friend quietly sitting beside him, to truly absorb what he lost when Katie died. The lives they thought they would have together, which were never promised but were at least possible  while she was alive.

Because the two of them had been together for most of their lives. David, in his words, has been obsessed with Katie since age 15. They had a lot of time together, but not nearly as much as they’d expected to have. And losing her was not just losing the Katie he knew, but the Katies he planned to know for the rest of his life.

David: It's not even a possibility to, to do the things that we had planned to do and to take the trips and to, you know, buy the house and whatever it was that we had planned for some indeterminate time in the future. That's all gone. You can't get that back. There's no replacing that per se. There's, there's something different and something new and what does that mean? How am I going to be? How do I want to live moving forward? And not like, let's be clear: There weren't a whole lot of options for me to change things, right? I mean, I wasn't gonna, like, pick up and move houses. I wasn't gonna like, you know, drop a couple kids off at Goodwill. I mean, obviously, you know, I've got four kids. I've got a good job, like… there's not a whole lot of wiggle room in the day to day. But I feel like there's a lot of space for, like, how... how to go about those things. You know, how to carry Katie and, and all that grief, in the midst of a day to day that's largely, you know, set.

Nora: That... honestly, I think here's something that people don't understand: Raising children is so tedious. 

David: (Laughter) It is.

What does it mean to live something new? As he drives, David’s brain pulls up a memory from his past with Katie. It’s a little dusty, but he shakes it off. It’s from that premarital counseling session, where they sat down with Father Bill and he told them that life and marriage isn’t all about happiness. He’d said something else, too. Something that jarred them as young people focused on the possibilities ahead. Focused on the promise of young love. 

David: “If God forbid one of you were to die, Katie, wouldn't you want David to walk away from your marriage together thinking gosh, the experience of marriage was so good, was so great, was so wonderful that I want to do it again? I can't wait to do it again.”

That. That memory. It moves something inside of David. Not that he needs to be married right away but that he loved being married to Katie. That he loved being a husband. That the two of them, they did it right — all of the kids, and all of the weekends at the lake, all of the hikes and the camping trips and the days she spent in her favorite chair, too sick to play with the kids but too in love with them to not at least watch them play. 

They didn’t get what they wanted, but they did the best with what they had. They were so good at it — at marriage, at love — that no matter how much it hurts right now? He would do it all again. 

We’ll be right back.

We’re back, and David and his best friend Kyle have been on the road for five days, driving from Steubenville, Ohio to David’s hometown of Houston, Texas. 

The two of them have no set end date, no deadline for when to return. They’re just going where the road takes them.

David: So we stopped in Helen, Georgia to spend two nights with some old family friends of ours who actually knew Katie's family from Houston. And they moved out to Helen, Georgia to retire. Great folks. They have this beautiful cabin up in the hills. So they take us over, and it's this, like, picturesque gorgeous, beautiful, you know, rolling hills winery with incredible facilities and it's just, it's the picturesque Napa winery, but in the hills of Georgia. Which is like, where, where did this come from? 

Nora: And also who knew this was here?

David: Exactly, exactly. And the owner was just like this... very open and welcoming and sort of that stereotypical restaurant owner who goes to every table and has the perfect story and has the whole family, you know, laughing. Like, that's the guy. And I remember talking to him, and he was like, “Yeah, so, so they tell me that, like you bought this, you bought this car.” And I'm, you know, sort of mock humbly, “Yeah, well, you know, it's just this little, you know, V8 with 400 horsepower.” And he's like, “Oh, that's cute. My Tesla has 600. You want to ride?” Like, of course I want to ride! Yes! (Laughter.) So Kyle and I, you know, climb into this thing. And I mean, we're just, you know, just a few car nerds kind of talking and bantering, and it, it was just one of those moments that you're like, how did this… how did this happen? How did I get here?

Everywhere David and Kyle stop, they have family. Not David’s family, not Katie’s family, but this extended network of people who knew Katie or David. Who know about what happened. Who might not know exactly the right thing to say or do but still do something. Open their doors to him. Let him be. Let him exist. Let him rest and recharge and then get back on the road.

It feels, as he tells me this story, that Katie is there just lighting the path ahead of him. By now, it’s been a week since he and Kyle got on the road.

David: We're in Atlanta. We're hanging out with my cousins and their families, and every night I had been FaceTiming with the kids. And, you know, they're having a great time with Nana and Papa. And they're seeing my folks, and of course they miss me but, like, they weren't, they didn't lack for anything. They were having a great time, and they were, you know, excited to see the pictures that I would send home and stuff like that. But there was something about that night, and I think it was partly seeing my cousin with her husband and, and, and their kids. And then FaceTiming with my kids. I got choked up on the phone and said goodbye to them, and I just hung up the phone, and I turned to Kyle immediately and I said, “We're going home. It's time.”

It’s time to go home. Back to Houston. David and Kyle go to bed early and wake up before dawn.

David: I think we were on the road by like 6, maybe 6:30. Because it was, you know, we did the math and it was like, well, if we do that, then we can get there by the time, you know, just before the kids go to bed. 

Kyle and David hit the road. They stop in New Orleans for a snack at Cafe du Monde. They cross the state line to Texas. Driving home is one of my favorite things. No matter where you live, there are certain landmarks — and they’re different for everyone — that indicate you’re getting closer. That the trip is almost over.

David: You know, you pass the Astrodome and that's, that's a moment in Houston. You, um, you pass the Houston Ship Channel. That's for sure a moment. 

For David, the moment of arrival — the moment he knows that he is HOME — is pulling into his driveway. His kids, his parents, Katie’s parents, all outside and waiting for him. Him rumbling up towards them in a loud, bright orange car. Pulling up to the garden that Katie had planned and project managed from the sofa in her final weeks, now lush and full of life. 

David: I pulled into the front driveway, and it's this gorgeous garden with, you know, beautiful grass and flowers and plants and these two huge oak trees. And the kids are coming out in their PJs and, you know, big hugs for dad but also, “Hey, cool this is his car, let me literally climb through every nook and cranny of it,” which I was all about. They were, you know, they… the big thing they love about that car is, like, it didn't have the traditional, like the whole back seat folds down. It just had, like, this little, like, nook, right in the middle. 

Nora: Yeahhhh.

David: And so that was, that was their secret passage, right? They're like, “Close the trunk, close the trunk, I want to climb through the secret passage into the trunk.” And I mean, they just, you know, they’d open the sunroof and stand out the sun — I mean, and so I've... I've even got this picture, where, I don't remember who took it, but um, but it's, it's me talking with, you know, her parents, I think we've got the hood open, so we're looking at the engine — maybe my parents, I forget. And the kids are, like, just crawling all over the car and everyone's got smiles. And, like, that's, to me, that was the, that's, that's like, the image that sticks with me about coming home is, you know, the... just... I think everybody, for me, it's an image of everybody having something new. And, and, and, by, by, by way of that new thing, having hope. Not that, you know, again, I'd like to think we're faithful people. Not that a new car is some panacea or some Band-Aid. But there was something symbolic about the newness and you know, the fact that... in a sense the frivolity of it, right? I mean, it's not... it's not like I went out and bought a 12-passenger van, you know? Like, I did something fun because it was fun, in a certain sense. And, and that... to have that as kind of one of the first building blocks of life after Katie, um, there's just something about that that sort of spoke to me.

It’s not the car that’s new — it’s all of it. Every day forth without Katie will be new. And once you have the time to process the pain, more and more of those happy memories return to you. You can’t extract meaning from your pain right away. It does take time. And David’s only been gone a week. He hasn’t processed it all. It’s not over. But he has enough space that he can be where he is. He can be the grieving husband and the grieving dad. He can live into what is new and what is now.

And he does. When we speak, David is married again. His wife is named Theresa, and they’re gonna have a baby, which will bring that total kid count to 5, which is too many for that orange muscle car, so he’s gotta think about getting… I would say an extended van would be my recommendation!

But the point is: Katie will always be a part of him. That road trip will always be a part of him. Not because it brought him a cool, fancy car, but because it brought him back. To his home. His life. Himself. The David who came back home was calmer. More peaceful. Like Katie up at the cabin, when David was insisting that their life was just too good to be true. 

It was good. And it was true. It still is.

David: She was always encouraging me to just, just live. Just, just be okay with what we're, with what we're doing right now and don't try to add something to it. I feel like that's one of those lessons that I have tried to... to make good on since she died, that okay, now I see what you were, I see what you were getting at for all those years. 

This has been “Terrible, Thanks for Asking.” I’m Nora McInerny. Our producer is Marcel Malekebu. Hannah Meacock-Ross is our project manager. Jordan Turgeon is our digital producer. Help on this episode from Jeyca Maldonado-Medina and Phyllis Fletcher. Our theme music is by Geoffrey Lamar Wilson, and we are a production of APM — American Public Media.