Today marks two weeks since life in the world changed for my daughter and me. Two weeks ago my husband, Dane Kolbeck, he of the bald spot featured in some of the tiny house building pictures and videos, was killed in a car accident. His absence has been painful, nearly unbearable, and as the shock wears off it will get worse for a time.
grief lies all within, and these external manners of lament are merely shadows
to the unseen grief that swells with silence in the tortured soul.” William Shakespeare
Although many people knew Dane, not many here in Georgia know where he comes from. At his memorial last Friday, I had this grand plan to eulogize him but could not find the words. Even now, two weeks later, it is hard for me to encapsulate everything he overcame to be the husband, father, and friend he was.
Dane grew up as a wild child in Seattle, Washington. His mother was an alcoholic and his father was absent, mostly off doing drugs. As a little kid, Dane was largely responsible for himself; his aunt Karlene tells the story of coming over to his house one day to see five-year-old Dane, standing on a chair by the stove, dragging his sleeve across it to cook himself some dinner. Dane often came home to an empty house and woke up to the same; there was a string of adults who cared for him but no real consistency (with the exception of Aunt Karlene and Uncle Steve who have been present in Dane's life and the closest thing he had to parents).
If you ask Dane, though, he would have said he had a happy childhood. I knew him for 14 years, and dragging out his life story, the real one, took nearly all of that time. Ask him about his life growing up, and he would tell you about riding dirtbikes and playing at Lake Cavanaugh or running around Magnolia and eating with chopsticks at the Chinese restaurant where his mother worked. He wouldn't tell you about being abandoned by her (and a stepfather he loved) in middle school. He wouldn't talk about being poor. He would say his childhood was normal and happy.
Dane fished commercially in Alaska from the time he was 17 until just after his daughter was born in 2000; when we moved suddenly to Georgia, he took a job running supply boats to the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. He loved being on a boat, but he hated being away from home. One of the coaches on the Georgia Titans softball team put it best: "Everything Dane did he did to be home. He just wanted to be home."
In our 14 years together, Dane and I have faced all of the tragic things people face in a lifetime: multiple deaths in our family, including the loss of a pregnancy and two parents, robbery (twice), financial ruin, moving across the country, unemployment - everything but divorce. Through it all, Dane just kept moving forward, and he took pleasure and joy in watching his daughter grow, coaching her in softball and working things out with me. He never once gave up or threw in the towel, never once let all of these difficulties stop him from being positive.
Dane gave everything (and everyone) all he had; his ability to give people the benefit of the doubt and to take them at their word, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that he should do neither, was a direct picture into the soul of him. He would do anything for his family and friends, and his primary goal was to make us happy. Dane's love for Sicily was palpable; he was so proud of her and her accomplishments, and he loved working on the tiny house with her, even though they had just begun and he needed a little coaching on what, exactly, she was building. Once he got it, he threw himself into it, just as he did with coaching softball. He would tell Sicily, "I just love to watch you play." He was goofy with the girls, a flat-footed runner who could make them laugh, and he sincerely wanted everyone to get better.
This seems inadequate, this clumsy tribute to my beautiful husband whom I miss so deeply. To reframe a life that was built so much around the foundation of his beauty and optimism is a difficult task. He is still all around us; he is in the corners and nooks of our world,hearts and minds just as he is in the dugout, in the shop at HoneyFern, walking around the backyard, phone pressed to his ear.
are places in the heart that do not yet exist; suffering has to enter in for
them to come to be.” Leon Bloy
I have found all of the places in my heart these past two weeks. I love you, Bubba.