Kate would tell me not to write about sad stuff on this blog. She would remind me that my primary purpose here is to bring levity, because the world needs more of it, and I’m good at spotting it. But lovely Kate passed away this week after a 19-month hard-fought battle with stomach cancer, so I’m going to break from my blog’s intended purpose and speak a few words from my heavy heart.
When the world takes a person of such grace, strength, and light, a vegetarian yogi pure of heart, with no greater wish than to raise her two young boys to live happy, full lives, I have to ask why. Why not me? I didn’t eat a vegetable on purpose until I was 18. 75% of the dinners I consumed as a kid came from a microwave or a pizza box. You could fill Mission Bay with the amount of Diet Coke I’ve consumed, I’m no stranger to powdered cheese, and I like wine, probably a little too much. I’m not patient, remarkably kind, or quick to forgive. Yet, here I sit, while she is gone.
I know it’s futile to think this way. Life is a crap shoot and sometimes our poor choices or circumstances have no correlation to our longevity. But other times they have everything to do with our longevity. And it’s unclear whether this connection exists until the day the universe asks you to pick a straw and you pick a stump. A 19-month long sprig.
She was authentic, our Kate. This I know because she died much as she lived. With concern for others before herself and modesty and sharp questions and good sense and funny whispers and fierce hugs. I wonder now, if the powdered cheese and Diet Cokes had mattered and Kate and I switched places, would I have died with the same dignity? Or if I would have been the opposite—the angry, blubbering mess in room 518, with all nurses warned to don helmets before entry lest I hurl a tray in their direction with intent to inflict harm. In my authentic death I could envision myself chucking a lot of trays. Although maybe fewer now that I’ve known Kate. Known how she lived, how she loved, and how she left her physical body. Maybe I will aspire to be more gentle instead. More loving. More generous. More compassionate. More amazing in every way. More like Kate.