This post has been living in my head for months. I tried to deny it. I tried to ignore the nagging voice in the back of my mind. The one that kept reminding me I’d eventually need to write it. I dismissed its importance, choosing instead to consider my little blogging experiment done before it ever got off the ground.
If that’s not the definition of going out of my way to be mindless, I don’t know what is.
I should know by now that I was fighting a losing battle. That a story that wants to live will find its way out…
On February 28, 2014, my world stood still. It would be days before I realized I was still breathing, and weeks later I would still be questioning whether my world had begun moving again or if I was just along for the ride on a planet where life continued on as normal even though nothing would ever be normal again.
On the afternoon of February 28, 2014, I got word that my best friend of the last decade and a half, Katie Choate, had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. At 2:28 p.m. (eerie coincidence, considering the date) I got a Facebook message with the news from one of her friends–a name that I recognized, but not someone I’ve ever met. I spent the next 45 minutes trying to think of all the reasons why his message didn’t make sense and convincing myself that it had to be a cruel joke, with my emotional stability as the punchline. I waited for the follow-up message to come–the one that would surely ask for my bank account information to pay the hospital, a funeral home, or a prince from a foreign country. Hoping to ease my anxiety, I sent Katie a text:
“Hey, you there?”
I thought about the conversation we’d have as soon as she replied and about how we’d laugh about the bizarre situation. As the minutes passed with no reply to my text, I grew more and more uneasy. My gut told me something wasn’t right. I did my best to ignore it. I stared at the phone. No texts arrived. I IM’d my husband and shared the bizarre message with him. No texts arrived. I re-read the message I’d received on Facebook. I read it again. And again. Still no text.
Five months later, I’m still waiting for the text that’s never going to come.
Instead, the next message I received that day was on Facebook–a simple message from a college classmate I had’t talked to in over 10 years asking me to call her ASAP, stating that it was an emergency, and giving me her phone number.
I went totally numb. Even as I dialed the numbers on my screen, I already knew what I would hear. Words that no one should ever have to hear regarding their 34 year old best friend. Words I didn’t think I’d hear for decades to come.
She was really gone.
I trudged through necessary motions that night–making phone calls to find out what had happened, making phone calls to let people know, working with other friends to reach out to as many people as we could to let them know the news. I cried. I sat in stunned silence, staring at nothing. I hoped with all I had that I’d soon wake up from what had to be a terrible nightmare.
Katie was the one in this world who knew everything about me (and I mean everything). She was my confidant, she was my cheerleader, she was the one who challenged me, and she was the one who helped me get back up when things fell apart. She was the one who held my hand through dark times, even from 2500 miles away. She was the one who laughed so hard with me that neither of us could breathe. She was the one I had deep conversations with. She was the one who just “got” it. She was my north star.
She was a therapist by profession, but also by heart. She dedicated her life to helping others–clients, friends, and everyone in between. She was a strong, courageous woman who loved going on adventures. She was braver than I can ever hope to be. She was deeply intuitive–she had a true gift for hearing, seeing, and understanding people and for knowing the way she could best help them on their journey. She sang beautifully. She was a life-long learner of all our universe had to teach, and she loved with her whole heart.
And in the blink of an eye, she was gone.
I always said I didn’t know what I’d do without her. I imagined hysterics and an inability to go on with life. What I didn’t imagine was that over the course of that first weekend, when the crying and pain and emptiness ebbed enough to come up for air, there would be moments when I’d feel completely at peace. I knew in some way that had to be her letting me know that I’d be ok. That she had already given me everything I needed to make it without her. That I was facing a new reality that still included her, but in a very different way that was going to take a lot of getting used to.
Somehow, five months have passed. Nothing will ever be the same, and I’m trying sort out what that means, how it looks, and how it feels.
Katie was the only one (aside from my tech gurus) who knew about this project of mine. Just days before she passed, she sent me a text gently prodding me, telling me it was time to let the world in on my secret blogging. She was the champion of my Year of Mindfulness. Without her, that plan fell apart.
But this post has been in my head for months, its story waiting to be told. This mindful journey must not be ready to end just yet after all…