white walls

I wanted to look at my hands.  I wanted to study my feet. I wanted to stare at the ceiling.

But instead?

I looked at their faces.

I had somehow (on purpose) squeezed my way into the corner behind Cortney.

Squeezed is an understatement.

I don’t think exam rooms are meant to hold 12+ people.  And this one?  Was freezing.

I’m starting to forget him.  I haven’t ever said that before. But it’s true.  I can remember everyone else from those visits, but I am losing his face.

I know he was sitting on the exam table.

But what I remember are the looks on his sisters’ and brothers’ and parents’ and children’s faces.

The walls were white and it was cold.  Until the news came that he wasn’t going to get better.  Then?  I couldn’t stop sweating.  I was the thousand degree corner of the room.  Behind my fiance.  I was there because I was told I was part of the family.  But I felt like such an interloper.

I only knew him for just over a year.  Not my whole life. Not like everyone else in that room.

The doctor gave numbers.  A time span.

I saw the math happening in people’s eyes.  He would not be there to walk his daughter down the aisle.  He would not be there to see his son marry a girl who was already part of the family.  He would not meet any grandchildren.  He would not outlive his parents.

And I?  I was sweating.

Why was I here?  This was not real.  This doesn’t happen in REAL life.  Shouldn’t I be sitting on my couch watching this unfold to some characters on a TV show and not to real people that I know…who are going to be my family?

Tissues started to be handed out.  None came to me.  I was wiping my nose and eyes on my sleeve.  No one noticed.  My runny nose was not the issue today.

I felt eyes.  Cort’s aunt was looking at me.  Into me.  Or through me.

And then she wasn’t.  Her eyes had moved on.

The walls were so white.  There was an ironic picture of a boat on Lake Michigan on the wall.

I was still sweating.  But shivering.

The only face I can visualize is that from the pictures we have…either formal or sick.  No real life images.

He is slipping from me.  Even though I feel like I never really had him.

And yet…

He is here.  I know it.  And Eddie knows it.  I think Eddie knows him.  I think they have met.

Has it really been five years?

Yes.  It has been five years.  And I am losing him in one form, and gaining him in another.

**Read Cort’s post about this at Tasty Buttered Toast.  But grab a tissue first**

**And Read Cort’s Sis, MacKenzie’s post about him (and their adoption process) at Stepping Stones.**

This post was written in loving memory of Steven Kent “Slippery” Sluiter who lost his battle with the beast that is cancer on August 14, 2005.  He is Cort’s Pops, my Father-in-Law, and Eddie’s beloved Papa.  He is missed on this earth every single day by everyone who knew him.
Today, in honor of him, Sluiter Nation is hosting a garage sale fundraiser to help bring his grandchildren home from Ethiopia.  We are confident this is how he would want us to spend this day.  Happy and hopeful instead of sad and full of remorse.
About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. Wow… I appreciate your point of view from those rough moments through it all. Thank you for being there. Love.

  2. What a beautiful post…words cannot often express the sorrow you must feel, but yours were just beautiful! And, now, I go and wipe away tears!

  3. Raising Madison says

    What a beautiful post.

  4. Pumpkin and Piglet says

    A beautiful post. That must have been a very tough situation to be in; wanting to be there to support those you love yet not feeling quite right about your presence. Have I got that right?

    I understand what you mean about losing his face. I supported my Aunt through my Uncle's illness and she asked me to be with them when he went into a hospice. I was with them at the end and I can remember every detail of that room and what the nurses looked like but I'm beginning to forget what my Uncle looked like.

    Thinking of you, Cortney and Eddie. Hope the sale goes well xx

  5. I can't imagine how hard it was to be in that position. I know your husband is so glad to have had you to lean on through this time. My parents both died with cancer, and I can't tell you how thankful I've been for my husband. Everybody needs a rock!
    Beautiful post!

  6. Lindsay Williams says

    Excellent writing in this post. And very touching. I felt like I was there. Thanks for sharing.

  7. What a wonderfully written post. Beautiful and tragic. Sorry for your loss.

  8. Oh, Katie, you took my breath away. So lovely.

    Thank you. And love to you. Much of it.

  9. I have given you a Bad Ass Award. Thank you for putting your guts out there for us to see. Turns out? You're beautiful.


  10. Beautiful words, my friend. Beautiful words.

  11. Faces are just that. I think the reason that they fade in our mind's eye is because the souls behind the faces were so much brighter. Don't you think that's the way it should be, though? To remember vividly the most brilliant point of the person?

    Katie, thank you for the peek into your heart and your memories. This, I would imagine is a tough one, but you told this story wonderfully.

    Oh, and congrats on being the newest Bad Ass. Welcome to the club, sista!

  12. Such an absolutely beautiful post, Katie.
    My favorite part?
    "Tissues started to be handed out. None came to me." Just lovely.
    This is unequivocally my favorite piece of your work.
    My love to you, Cortney, and Eddie

  13. jessica@theunemployedmom.com says

    Beautiful! I can relate on so many levels, except I was only dating my husband for about 3 months when his father suddenly passed away. I remember us receiving the 911 page while we were on a date, that phone call saying to get to the ER immediately, and then his father being rushed past us on the stretcher. I felt like a stranger in a family room filled with loved ones. The tears, the emotions, it was unlike anything I have ever experienced. I felt like I should leave, but my boyfriend at the time (husband of 12 years now) would not allow it. His mother insisted that I stay. It was the most surreal thing ever that I have never been able to explain, yet your blog was so eloquent and well written! Wow.

    I am so sorry for your loss, hugs to your family. My husband is still in denial about it all, I feel so bad for him.

  14. Tina McLarty says

    Katie, I have been sifting through your blog posts and feel like a Peeping Tom! But I love your transparency and how your words all feel right but not over-edited. Anyway, this particular post spoke to me. I have always thought losing my dad would not have been as hard to come to grips with if I’d been able to say good bye. But the truth is, when someone you love leaves, there will be a gaping hole. Period. Watching someone waste away has to be heartwrenching too. God bless your lovely family.


  1. […] Again. This post was written in response to this picture prompt.  To read why we were on the boat, please go here. […]

  2. […] this post for instance. I could have just told you about how my father-in-law had cancer and I was there to […]

  3. […] already written about the time we found out Cort’s dad’s cancer was […]