Friday, January 18, 2013

Thanks, my friend! (January 18)

People think I remember weird stuff, trivia if you will, and maybe I do. There are lots of cool reasons to watch the credits roll on a movie, such as random actor or director names that I will remember for no other reason than to amuse myself with that nonsense knowledge some day. I used to recall license plates of family members and friends so I knew from far away if it was them approaching me. That's back when I could see further distances and lived in a small enough town that we passed each other on the road a lot.

So many other things are more important to bring to mind.  I unabashedly boast that I'm the "calendar" to reference birthdays that help my family members remember to send a card or give the person a call. Then there are just some details that jump out in my mind for one reason or another.  So it surprises me that last week I forgot the significance of the day I last posted a thank you like this.  Mnemonic devices help me with doing so.

That's why January 11 usually sticks out in my mind.  My dear friend, Karen, lost her battle to cancer on that day in 2007.  Just six years ago but seems like forever.  It's the length of my son's life.  It feels like much longer since I've seen or talked to her.

She and I worked together in my first so-called real job after high school. Her unique demeanor was one that led me to first think she'd be very prim and proper, which she was to a certain extent, but there was a clever smart aleck hiding beneath that facade.  Karen was nowhere near as sarcastic as some in our travelling group (like me and Dena), but she'd catch us off guard with a zinger now and then.

The five of us took several extended weekend trips together.  San Antonio, Memphis, Chicago twice, an overnight b&b in bfe Kansas.  Some of the funnest times I remember, especially struggling with our shopping bags whipping straight out behind us in gale-force Chitown winds.  We spent a lot of time site seeing but even more shopping and having cocktails!  Oh, geez, the stuff, the stuff Karen would buy for her kids, her generosity overwhelming!  I think Karen brought extra bags simply to schlep it all home on the plane.

Those kids were her world. She was an older mom, like I eventually became, having her children in her late 30s. She doted on them like crazy, because she was lucky enough to find the love of her life to have and raise those kids with her. I hope she can see Keith and Caitlin growing up the fine adults they are becoming.  Karen and Randy gave them some incredible brain power, ambition and some damn fine looks as well.

I was very pregnant back in late December '06 on into January '07.  We had Lamaz class at the local hospital where Karen was admitted in her declining health.  She didn't get to actually ever see my son, but she sort of met him when I felt a kick and placed her hand on my stomach for her to feel it.  I am not a super touchy-feely foofoo type of person, even while pregnant, but that seemed right at the time.  Now it's a bittersweet memory for me.

January 11 reminds me every year, 1/11, how sad it is to be without Karen.  I can't even imagine how her family feels.  Karen helped care for her aunt and ailing parents in the "twilight" of their lives. She gave her parents a home next to her own as her father watched Karen's mom succumb to dementia.  Her beautiful home was full of love, and I hope it is not empty without her.

A crazy grin appears on my face when I think back to sombreros and big margaritas in TX, laughing our asses off at the tarmac blackout in TN, going through Dunkin Donuts drive-thru in a limousine en route to catch a glimpse of O Studios, and how sweet it was of her and Randy to help me remove a plastic price tag from my cat's mouth one morning before work.  I don't want to get all sappy and cry thinking of her struggle with that unfathomable pain of the wretched disease she fought so bravely and with never a complaint.  It's happier to think of her opening the door wide to welcome us into her fabulously decorated house at Christmastime, where almost every surface inch was covered in the glow of soft light from windows of every little decorative structure in a winter village.

Life hands us different opportunities through work, activities, being at the right place at the right time, etc.  I'm still not extra foofy about showing or admitting feelings, but I was so fortunate to have the universe put my friend Karen in my life when it did.  I miss her support and friendship, her warm smile and laughter and blow a kiss out to her in thanks.

Tell a friend how much she means to you.  She may not know, or she could just use some kind words spoken about her.  Do it now instead of wishing you did so when you no longer can.


  1. So, I know why you and I are friends....we are so much alike it's scary. The first two paragraphs describe me to a tee. Thanks for this amazing tribute to Karen....and yes, I type this with tears running down my face. I still have the leather bag I bought in Chicago to pack home all the crap I bought when we were shopping. I think Karen's was even bigger than mine and I think of her every time I use it. I feel blessed to have been a part of her life but, Katy, you have been an equally amazing friend. Don't underestimate how you've motivated and inspired those around you. Thank you for being MY friend.

  2. ... and I'm crying again. But thank you, Dena. You, too, are an amazing woman and wonderful friend!