This was the view this morning from my front porch, just as Eric and I were leaving to walk the dogs. It makes sense that the sky was extra beautiful this morning. Four years ago on May 14th, Kelly died, and while that remains one of the worst things, she was one of the best.
Eric said to me once, after she was gone, “I don’t understand why you are so upset about it, it’s not like you were best friends.” He’s right. Since Kelly had moved to Kentucky with her husband Matt, I hadn’t even heard her voice. We kept in touch through email, regular mail, her blog, and Facebook. Even that contact was spotty, until she was diagnosed with cancer. Things like that — accidents, illness, even death — have a way of shaking you up, waking you up. You suddenly realize how much people mean to you and you start to act like it.
In some ways, I realized how much I adored Kelly too late. There wasn’t much time to act like it, for her to know it (although, I made sure she did). I trusted in the hope she had that she’d get better (how could she not?!), and planned to go visit her then, to celebrate. I never got the chance to see her again, would travel to her memorial service instead. It was better than I’d done for Heather, but still not enough.
And yet, that’s one good thing that came from losing Kelly, (and Obi, and then Dexter) — I set the intention to heal myself, to be myself, and in that way to start to help make the world better. I vowed to keep my heart open, no matter how bad things got, no matter how hard it might be. I started this blog, I took my work and what I had to offer seriously, I started to love myself, to ease suffering, to see my life as practice and an offering. What I wanted most was to be clear that their lives mattered, that they’d made a difference, and the only way I knew how to do that was through my own experience, by showing up with an open heart.
Kelly was kind, funny, and smart, devoted to making the world a better place. Her last words on this earth were said to her mom — “I’m happy.” That’s so exactly and essentially Kelly. She never gave up loving every minute of her life.
That’s the thing I carry with me, both from her life and her loss: don’t give up. That might sound like a small thing, but it has the power to save us. Me, you, all of us, all of it. Don’t give up. And even when we lose each other in this way, when our love is unbound by form, the love remains. It’s confusing and hard because we no longer have the physical form to attach our attention and affection too, but that connection is never broken. It’s okay. Cheer up. You’re perfect.
Don’t give up.