I feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve written about grief. February, though, is a sad reminder of it because, on February 8, 2016, my friend Kara died very unexpectedly in the arms of the man she loved.
I met Kara in 1994 when we both worked for a periodontist in Johnson City, Tennessee. She was quirky, and funny, and always dressed to kill, even when she was scheduled to assist on surgery days! In fact, I can’t remember one time over the 22 years that I knew her when she didn’t look like she was getting ready to walk down a runway, and that included when she got ready to go to bed. And if the truth be known, Kara probably didn’t even realize how stunning she really was.
When I met her in 1994, she was dating a man named Waymon. Now, mind you, I hadn’t known her very long at that time, but I seriously thought she was saying “Raymond” and that she had a speech impediment (I felt sorry for her haha!) But come to find out, his name was definitely Waymon and she was crazy about him. It wasn’t long into their relationship before they were married and expecting their only child, a son, whom she adored like no other until the day she took her last earthly breath. She was bubbling with excitement the day she called me to tell me she was pregnant and I won’t ever forget that conversation for as long as I live because she was absolutely giddy and couldn’t wait to be a mother.
Kara and I shared a lot of laughs together but the funniest one had to be when she introduced me to Max Factor’s Nude Chair lip liner; not only that, she had to teach me how to use it!!!! It. Was. Everywhere! I’ll never forget us standing in the bathroom after work one day with her giggling at the mess I was making. That lip liner became one of my favorite hues until it was discontinued, and I recently bought the last two I could find on eBay. Every time I use it, I think of her and how I literally had that stuff from ear to ear. I know she thought I was a hopeless cause that day, but I did eventually learn how to get it just perfect.
Kara was a twin and her sister’s name is Kristi. They were always closer than close, and it was very unusual to see one of them without the other. I don’t know from experience what it’s like to be a twin, but I can tell you that Kristi mourns for Kara every minute of every day. Even for me, it’s hard to comprehend how one heart can stop while the other one continues to beat, especially with a bond as close as that of a twin sister.
You know those friends who never forget a birthday or a holiday? That was Kara. Not a birthday or holiday passed where she didn’t text me to tell me she loved me and missed me. I miss those texts even now and for every birthday, Christmas, or Valentine’s Day that passes, I always remember that she reached out no matter how busy she was. And regardless of how much time passed without us seeing each other, we always seemed to pick up right where we left off. Kara was what I refer to as a “true blue” — she was a constant in my ever-changing world — and I when I think about her character and the kind of person she was, these are the things that I remember…
…she was the friend that all of us could call at any time of the day or night.
…she was the daughter who was devoted to caring for her ailing mother.
…she was the mom who fiercely loved and protected her son.
…she was the sister that always missed the other half of her when Kristi moved out-of-state.
…she had an intense love affair with shoes and had more of them than you could ever imagine.
…she loved the Tennessee Volunteers (and yes, she had the orange high heels to prove it!)
…she was the fiancée who believed in fairy tales and loved unconditionally, no matter what.
Kara had asked me several times before she died to get together for dinner and margaritas, but at the time, I was in school and bombarded with homework. Every time she asked, I was covered up and couldn’t tear myself away long enough to go. That’s the problem, really: we always think we have time, but the truth is, tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. If I had it to do over, I would have met her anytime she asked because, in all honesty, homework could have waited. By not going, I missed out on spending some really important time with her. What else can I say about that…
Her funeral was standing-room only, and probably one of the saddest services I have ever attended because toward the end, during the last song by Garth Brooks (see below), her young son left his seat and made his way to her casket. And one by one, the people who cherished her the most surrounded him and held on to each other as the tears freely flowed. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house that night. Not. A. Single. Solitary. One. That is how much Kara was loved.
I remember asking my friend Scott on the day of her funeral why it is that we don’t love people better when they’re here and I think it’s because we get so caught up in the busy-ness of life that we forget that tomorrow isn’t promised and that margaritas can’t always wait. You know that saying about loving fiercely because everything ends? It’s true, it all ends — and usually when we least expect it.
Kara, thank you for always being there for me when I needed to talk, for never forgetting my birthday, and for being my biggest cheerleader when I filed for divorce. For teaching me the precise way to wear lip liner so I wouldn’t be a Plain Jane, for never breaking girl code, and for always having my back when the man who had my heart wasn’t worthy of me — I loved him in spite of his filthy character and you never once judged me for it. Instead, you accepted it and supported me because you understood it and didn’t ask any questions even though I know you wanted to. I miss our talks and I especially miss hearing from you on birthdays and holidays. I harbor a lot of regret for not spending time with you when I could have and I hope that wherever you are in the Heavenly Realm, you can forgive me for it.
You are loved…
You are missed…
And you are never, ever forgotten.
If you knew Kara and would like to share your thoughts or stories, please feel free to comment below.
Until next time, stay sassy.