8.01.2006

In Memory of K

I've known I was going to write this post for almost a week now. But it's been hard to get started, not for lack of time, but for fear of getting it wrong. My cousin K died last week. Unexpectedly, at age 47.

K had MS, she wasn't going to live to be 90, but this is much too soon, and much too unexpected. She leaves a devoted husband, two beautiful, confident, poised, smart young daughters, two parents, a brother and the rest of us. It was not her turn.

As last week progressed to her service, different reasons for grief emerged. Through my own shock, my conviction that someone would call to say there had been a mistake, I grieved for her daughters first. They are roughly college-aged, just the age when we girls emerge from adolescent- and college-induced tension with our moms into a sort of friendship built on respect that is the stuff of legend.

Then I grieved for her husband. K was an avid decorator, it's hard to imagine living one second in their home without being viscerally reminded of his loss. She was a collector and a costumer and a person who entered a room with verve and life and a smile that could truly light a small city. How to learn to live without that sparkling energy?

And of course I grieve for her parents. No one should have to bury their child. We spend their whole lives protecting them, keeping them safe from harm. Who among us wouldn't go first, given the choice? To lose a child you have raised and loved into adulthood, I cannot imagine the grief.

I grieve for all of us who won't enjoy K's smile any longer, or her sharp inherited-from-Nana edges (we all have 'em). We were supposed to become the Dingbat Cousins together, proudly wearing our mothers' zaniness. She was my model for raising daughters: her own are so remarkably centered, surely she'd be my go-to girl for the challenges ahead. I'd taken this all for granted till I saw the photo collages her daughters had created for her memorial. Somehow those brought our loss home to me.


Her memorial was a sight to behold. As we drove up to the church, we could see a trail of cars behind us as if for a concert. There were easily 500 people there, a true celebration of a life. I met people she knew in high school, college, from her kids' activities and her own. And all too frequently on this lovely afternoon, I found myself looking around for K, wondering what bright bold hat she was wearing.

K, there's a big ol' hole at the table now. We miss you.

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