It seems like the last two weeks of October have been a blur of every possible emotion.
Last time I checked in here, my sister had just arrived for a few days while we waited for David’s last scan.
It was wonderful to receive word together that there are currently no signs of David’s cancer, thus allowing us to focus in on what we Kennedy girls do best — have fun, eat well, and cherish our loved ones.
Here’s Polly and my pal Elizabeth on one of our many outings.
Bollywood Theater, as always, was spectacular.
I experienced so much cheer with my sister here– grabbing coffees everywhere we went
and window shopping with Charlotte
and brunching at Tusk (perhaps more on that later).
Thanks so much for coming, Polly. You are literally one of my greatest joys.
But just a few days after she left, Portlanders got some terrible news.
A little background.
Owen Klinger was an 18 year old Portland kid who started college a little over a month ago at University of Portland when he inexplicably went missing on October 6th.
I’ve known the family for 15 years and while I can’t say we were close friends, we’ve shared so many experiences over the years. We went to the same tiny preschool in which Mary, Owen’s mom, was at the helm. Our boys went to the same high school and played football together, and I’ll never forget the sight of the entire Klinger family always in the bleachers alongside us, watching our guys play in the cold and rain. I’ve always admired Mary from slightly afar– so poised, so focused — and a nicer, more cohesive family you’ll never likely meet.
So for two weeks the city was transfixed and holding its collective breath while we awaited word of his whereabouts. What could have happened? Where could he be?
And then sadly last week, this headline popped up.
At its heart, Portland still feels like a small town in some ways, and the Klinger family– through sports, volunteering, their faith, extracurriculars and tennis and more– is so familiar to so many of us. As other parents who just launched a kid into the world, their plight was even more relatable.
Their agony was heartbreaking to watch and it was impossible not to feel its offshoots. This truly is a parent’s worst nightmare.
Hundreds of volunteers had searched for him in woods and parks and beaches and streets and to have him found in the river two weeks after he went missing was heartbreaking.
Surrounded by dear friends from our shared preschool days, I went to the funeral yesterday.
There were thousands of people there and nary a dry eye in the house as his parents, Mary and Dustin, talked about how kind and joyful a soul he was, and how much he will be missed. The grace and courage they’ve showed in these darkest of hours is awe-inspiring.
(The cause of his death or circumstances around it are not known or not yet disclosed to the public.).
So there’s been that — casting a heavy pall over my community and everyone I know has been walking around in a funk.
The night we discovered the news there was this incredibly strange but beautiful sunset and I remember walking around during it and thinking of the agony the Klingers must be going through at just that moment.
In the days since, to try to brighten the mood at home, I’ve tried to make the house as merry as can be.
It all starts with the porch.
I’ve got fake rats all over my porch and lawn.
And I love it every year pulling this vintage box out and I set it out somewhere different every time.
I love adding seasonal delights to my mantle
and scatter other eye candy throughout my house.
Speaking of eye candy, I’ve also been doing so much baking and trying to bring smiles to others I know rocked hard by Owen’s death.
I always make Chex Mix at this time of the year
and these potato chips are a fun nod to the season.
It seems like every few days the last couple weeks I’ve been baking up something.
These chocolate salted cookies were incredible.
One of these days soon I’m going to have to share the recipe with you.
I’ve also baked a lot of these cinnamon crumb cake muffins (from my favorite coffee cake recipe from way back when)
which, incidentally, is one of my favorite things to leave on someone’s porch early morning as it’s such a lovely way to start the morning.
So there’s been joy. And sorrow. And cheer. Plus crumb cakes.
And apple stands in the neighborhood.
And neighborhood kids in wagons strolling past my house.
And a second round of drop-offs to friends in the neighborhood.
And now my friends I’ve got to mosey… my Halloween table needs to be finalized.
Regular readers may remember that I go all out with decorations and giveaways on Halloween
and every year I give out about one hundred full-size candy bars and treats plus chips and other assorted snacks.
Here’s what I’m starting with (and I have twice as much back-up below the table).
This year I’ve been collecting books to give away, too.
I bought most of these at an estate sale (plus a few other at Goodwill) and they are almost all from the 1950’s.
How fun will it be to give away a great mystery with a killer cover to an avid young reader?
May your Halloween be all treats, no tricks.