April 3, 2012

love and loss, old friends and ones i never met...

i've recently been rereading caroline knapp's books.  i started with "drinking, a love story" and then her book about dogs, "pack of two".  then i read the memoir by her dear friend gail caldwell, "let's take the long way home".

i don't know why i started reading these books for a 2nd time.  something about knapp has always intrigued me.  i related to her struggles with drinking, her love of dogs, and her dark sense of humor.

she was 42 ( my age) when she died.  june marks the 10th anniversary of her death.  i didn't realize either of these things when i started reading those books.  but now i guess it makes sense.

she wrote about her life in such detail, i felt like i knew or.  i wanted to know her.  and now, i've reread all of her books and magazine columns, and there's no more.  i've been searching the internet for photos, articles, anything related to her.  i found out her family created a foundation that gives scholarships to young kids in boston who want to be writers.

so i guess i'm mourning someone i never met, but knew.

last week a very close friend of my husband's family passed away suddenly.  kathy & her husband ken have been friends with dan's family since the early 70's.  they aren't just friends, they are family.  

kathy was so full of energy.  always doing something nice for someone.  she was whip smart & funny.  and she didn't like her photo taken.  she liked to run from my camera.  i did get this shot of her giving grandma dot flowers on her 95th bday.

when i lived in columbus, i made so many amazing friends.  donna & mike were like family to me.  donna was the manager at the group home where i worked.  she was incredibly sweet and funny.  her & her husband were also incredibly giving.  they treated me like family when i was away from my own.  i was invited to dinners and mike even hired me to photograph the tv personalities at a local tv station where he worked.

i watched their struggle to adopt (it took years.)  and i got to be there when they brought their first son home.  i took photos the day they brought nick home.  it was a gift to get to be there for that amazing moment in their lives.

when i left columbus, i lost touch with so many friends.  none of us where on the internet.  there was no facebook.  or even email.  so life went on...

a few months back i started searching facebook for some of my columbus friends.  donna was the first one i looked for and i found her.  i was so excited.  i sent her a message and then started catching up on her facebook.

it was lovely to find out that after nick they adopted 2 more kids.  i loved seeing these kids, now grown and heading off to college.  everyone looked so happy in family photos.  just how i'd expect.

but donna had been in and out of the hospital for months.  her husband mike posted updates.  there were times when everyone was hopeful that she'd get to come home, back to her husband and 3 kids.

last month she passed away.  (she was only 5 years older than me.)  i wish i'd looked her up on facebook sooner.  i would have liked to reminisce about about our days working at the group home, or get her recipe for general tso's chicken.

i've been talking to her husband mike, and he's just amazing.  still has that wicked sense of humor.  he's focused on taking care of their kids, and healing.  i'm glad he's out there in facebook land.

so... i guess i just wanted to write about these people who have passed on.  i know that it's just part of life.  we're all going to die someday.  what matters is what you do in the present, in this moment.  being a good person, appreciating what you have, it's the best thing you can do.

the 3 people i'm writing about here, they all embrace their lives.  i'm glad i knew donna and kathy.  i'm glad that caroline knapp wrote about her life in a way that affected me profoundly.  the 3 people i'm writing about were gifts in my life.  maybe the best we can do is try to be "gifts" in other people's lives...

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