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  • Writer's pictureKait Schmidt

Behind the Book: A book excerpt that is so much more..

Updated: Mar 16, 2023

On Thursday, December 29th I got engaged to the love of my life, Amgad.

On Friday, December 30th I lost one of the most important people in my life, Mary "Bubby" Schmidt (my paternal grandmother).


To say this was an incredibly bewildering time is an understatement. No amount of crying, martinis, or cuddles with our dog Lexi could make this okay.


I have since done my best to power through the grieving with work, "If I Can Dream" by Elvis on repeat, and plastering on a fake smile pretending that everything was okay. For any of you who have grieved before, you know that this is not enough. I took two days of bereavement then threw myself back into life because I thought that is what she would have wanted.. And to some extent that is true, but when you pretend to heal a broken heart it tends to creep up later in unexpected, unfortunate ways. During the month of February I had a large event coming up for my part-time nonprofit job and knew it was not the ideal time to step away from work/life to reset. I did my best, but the combination of fatigue with event planning and repressed emotions is not an ideal cocktail..


I finally decided I needed to put myself first and promote healing so I can learn how to navigate life better, not without my Bubby, but with her in a different form by my side. The night she passed is a blur, and it was a huge shock to our family. Bubb was only 72 years old and had come out of so many health scares in the past five years that we figured this was just another one of those unpleasant time periods. Fast forward to now, I have decided to take a week-long leave from life. Next week my fiancé and I are heading to my favorite hidden gem, a tiny house farm stay in southern Wisconsin. During the summer of 2022 I discovered this place, and was able to share (virtually) the amazing facilities and joy of the property with Bubby and Papa. Not only did I discover a great place of refuge and solace, I also made a dear friend, who is also the property owner. As I have been doing a lot of soul searching to figure out how to best move forward with grief, this tiny house was the only place I wanted to be.

So next week, the week of March 13th, I will be going to my favorite place with Amgad and doing whatever sparks joy during this crazy, confusing time. I look forward to the insights, much-needed crying sessions, and time away to reflect on how to best make my Bubby proud. Below is a chapter I wrote the night she passed, along with the book's dedication. It is a piece I was lucky enough to share with family during funeral festivities, and also something that does not feel like my most solid writing, but somehow feels damn good at the same time. Additionally, the tentative title for my book is "The AfterParty".



ROCKTAILS

Losing someone closest to me recently brings another meaning to the word afterparty. My Bubby (grandmother) has left the earth and now resides in Heaven partying with Elvis Presley and Kobe Bryant. Before I get to the true discussion of this chapter, you should know a few things about this icon. Bubby was magnetic when she entered a room, she was kind to and accepted everyone, and left every person she encountered with a smile. She lived everyday to the fullest with no excuses or exceptions. She was not scared of anything or anyone, and was so persuasive that she talked her way into my ticketed junior prom. She overwhelmingly gave people hope in any given situation and had a zest for life that was unmatched.


I suppose being on the other side is the ultimate afterparty, and it really got me thinking more and more about the importance of fulfilling our life mission sooner rather than later, as I know Bubby undoubtedly did. I know I am not the first person to tell you that life is precious, but in the midst of personal tragedy I can’t help but add it to these pages. When all is said and done, it’s important that you are happy with your choices. Many of us are given ample freedom to write and rewrite our stories as we learn and grow, and it begs the question: when was the last time you doodled outside the margins and challenged your current narrative? Is your current one getting you to the stepping stones to make for one hell of an afterparty? I know for a fact that when Bubby passed she wasn’t ready for her afterparty to begin, but she went in enthusiastically anyway and made an epic entrance.


Loss is a new thing for me. I am 27 years old and this is my first big one, which I know is uncommon. This one hurts and knocks the wind out of me completely. As much as I want to ask “why?” I am choosing to glean the lessons and memories instead. I don’t expect smooth sailing and to feel this way throughout my grieving journey, but for now I am choosing strength while I can. Our loved ones (blood or chosen) are vessels of wisdom, safety, and love that undoubtedly are the sole reason we make it out of our deepest darkest days. Bubby is the strongest woman I know; she shed a light on others around her in the most magical and lively way. In her honor, together I want to reflect with you on people that are pure forces of nature that we are lucky enough to have in our lives. Who is your rock? What about them creates a safe haven for you and others?


For Bubby it was her relentless positive attitude and tenacity that impacted me the most. She kicked ass everyday, even on the days when her current ailment was kicking her ass just as bad. People like this are meant to shepherd us in life, however, this does not take away our own responsibility to be that same light for someone else. Think about the characteristics of this person in your life and upon reflection mix those into the perfect “rocktail” of your own.


Even though this loss has been unimaginable, Bubby has given me the strength to pursue this next phase of life in an empowered way. Although I know myself and so many others will miss this special kind of “rocktail”, I am filled with hope as I write this and know it is my responsibility to be my own kind of “rocktail” for others. The strength that is the most precious is the one we use to lift up others. However, this strength cannot always be deployed. We are all adults here and know it is not possible to pour from an empty cup; there is no reward for being this type of martyr. But when you are in a place where you can spread your strength to others it is your duty to do so. I strongly believe that this outpouring of support coupled with assuming your life’s purpose is the perfect “rocktail” to perfect over the years before it is time for your final afterparty.


Dedication

This book is dedicated to my late grandmother aka “Bubby”, Mary Eldridge Schmidt. We lost her very quickly at the end of 2022. Not only was she one of few people to get early chapters of this book, she understood me from a young age in a way no one else could. She happily read everything I sent along and offered thoughts, and I think sharing these intimate excerpts made our relationship that much stronger. It pains me that she will never hold a copy of this published work, but I know given her heavenly powers and nosy nature she has already read the whole thing anyways. In my pursuit to be a badass woman, I can only hope one day to be just like her, a rock and safe harbor for all. I love you Bubby, cheers to YOU!



XO, Kait




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