Have you ever met someone, and something just clicks? There’s an instant bond, a kinship, a link, sometimes it’s because you share a common interest or a common history, sometimes you could not be more different, but there is something deeper there.
Over the years I have met many wonderful, lovely people, and some I have felt that link with. Some of them, I haven’t seen in a decade or more, but we still share that link. When we connect on social media, it’s an old friendship, a knowing, even if in reality we don’t really know each other that much at all.
Recently, a turn of unexpected events led my husband Shane and I to come into contact with two individuals that have instantly become dear friends. In a matter of minutes, there was just something there, that invisible bond that we didn’t know existed until we came face to face with these two beautiful, wonderful people.
We met Jonas and Kate through an art show a friend had hooked up for Shane at a cooperative art gallery called AFRU, Jonas is the lead of and Kate is a participant and volunteer. We met Jonas first and hit it off immediately, despite the fact his PR person had all but turned Shane off of even doing the show. Then, when we came to Portland to help hang the show we met Kate who worked meticulously to produce the plaques for each piece that hung.
I can honestly say, I doubt Kate and I share very much in common, she’s a decade and a half younger than me. She’s an accomplished belly dancer while I can barely keep my balance well enough to walk down the street. I doubt we like similar music. She’s a highly educated professional, she’s responsible and owns her own home, BUT we just instantly fell in love with her!
Kate is gentle and beautiful and smart, and there is plenty I don’t know about her, but there was just this immediate bond, and we have both acknowledged that. I don’t have many friends, and I don’t make friends easily. We’ve been on the coast since 2008 and honestly, I can count on my hands the number of people I count as friends here, and only a few of that number are women. I have always had a hard time relating to other women, in school girls were typically frienemies, and my own sister, who I once considered my closest friend is the boogeyman of my memories. So, to have an instant bond with Kate was really surprising to me.
At the time, I did not know that Kate was sick. Jonas had mentioned his girlfriend was a breast cancer survivor, but I just did not put it together until later that the person he’d referred to was Kate. She was so gentle and beautiful and seemed to have the wisdom of the ages in eyes.
It reminded me a bit of the first time I took acid at 14, the girl I tripped with and I sat up all night talking and our brains appeared to be connected at looked like the universe was inside our skulls and they had merged, and that is kind of how it was sitting with Kate as she cut out and framed up the tags for the various pieces in the show. We talked sometimes, we were quiet sometimes, and while silence is usually awkward with near strangers it wasn’t with Kate, it was comfortable and fine, and I felt like we’d known each other a very long time.
In the short time since we met her at the very beginning of October, Kate’s cancer returned, and has aggressively spread. It is heartbreaking to see such a beautiful person suffer and struggle. I have lost many friends to death, but most have been fast and unexpected, murders, overdoses, suicides, car wrecks. What a motherfucker cancer is. What a horrible villian!
The entire scenario reminds me of a true story I read long ago in Chicago, a young girl had a gift for healing people, and word started to get out about her power, so at 14 Mary Alice Quinn announced to her parents that she needed to die so she could heal the world. Within two weeks she’d willed herself to die for her bigger purpose. Even though she was buried in a secret grave, people came from all over to visit it and claimed to be miraculously healed. I am an atheist for the most part, but I appreciate how little we know about the universe and our own minds, and I appreciate that there may be something that connects the two, after all we do have space dust in us.
All signs now point that Kate will soon have a date with the cosmos, she will soon take the next step into the great unknown. We have tried to spend time with her and Jonas anytime we can, but life is busy right now and our obligations are many. I wish we could be there with Kate, to hold her hand and listen to her words as she prepares and adjusts for the next step. But all I can do it write these inadequate words, and cherish the few memories I have.
I think of the weight of her words. My favorite was on Christmas Day when she said “Saying Yes is more fun than saying no”. Simple words that said so much. Shane told me that when Kate was at our house during the Nine Days Of Pie one of our guests said some rather petty complaint about life, and Kate gently responded that she ought to face her problems rather than run from them. The woman almost began to cry. She had no idea she was talking to a very ill person, but we’ve run into the casual acquaintance since then, and she is a renewed person with much less sorrow in her eyes.
It’s funny the impact seemingly little moment can have an our lives, it makes me think about the influence I may have had or may have squandered over the years, and it reminds me again to take those little moments so seriously, after all those are the real memories we have when we reflect on our lives. Weddings, graduations, and other milestones are such a really small part of life, it is the little moments of watching waves hit the shore, and hearing the birds chirping outside, or a moment to look into the eyes of the people we love that makes a life, a real life, a true life.
Thank you Kate for reminding me of that lesson once again. Thank you for being my friend. I hope the ride is grand!