When I was in my 20’s, I had an on-again/off-again boyfriend who was not good for me, but I was addicted to him. The first time we met the attraction was instantaneous and we were fighting before we were even formally introduced. When he suggested that we go for ice cream in order to “cool off,” I knew it was going to be a bumpy ride, but I was in and so was he, for 3 years.
I have many memories of my time with him: some good, some bad and one where my dad was visiting and said: “I’m glad you’re having a good time with my daughter, but you know you’re not marrying her, right?”
I tried to get away more than once, but he always managed to charm me back. It seemed, at times, that almost everything about him (and us) was toxic, but he always remained a big fan of mine so I found it hard to let go.
The relationship, however, wasn’t going anywhere good, so when my best girlfriend got a job offer in the suburbs of Detroit, I decided I would go with her.
It was time to go home.
About a year after I moved, he died. It was very tragic and I wasn’t prepared for it and— to this day—I still have trouble accepting it. His death was an accident. I know this because he had a plan to come see a band play in Detroit and “bring my ass back” to Columbus.
Death was not part of his plan.
When I tried (in vain) to figure out why all of this happened, my dad sat me down and explained that sometimes people are taken at a certain time so they are preserved in a certain way. Things probably weren’t going to get better for him, and although his death was accidental, there is a part of me that knows if it didn’t happen when it happened, it would have happened eventually.
I just wasn’t ready for it.
I struggled for quite some time because there were so many unanswered questions. Everyone I spoke to had a different story and it took me making a trip to Columbus to put the pieces together. I will never forget him, or our time together, but eventually I moved on because that’s what he would have wanted.
Death is hard for so many reasons, and what’s interesting about it is even when you ARE prepared for it, it’s still a shock when it happens. And it still hurts, a lot.
Last night I learned that a lovely girl in our community died. Her name is Katie Zack. I, admittedly, didn’t know Katie well but over the years she has made an impact in my life. She learned about me through Dim Sum and Doughnuts and the first time I met her, she made a point to introduce herself when she spotted me and my girls.
Katie was a bright, shiny presence and although I had never met her before, she felt very familiar. I didn’t know that Katie was sick at the time, the word “Cancer” was never brought up. She was just a sweet, fun girl who was a fan of the blog, Henri Bendel and my girls.
That summer, when I was at camp, she sent me a bracelet from Henri Bendel. It was a very extravagant gift, both unnecessary and unexpected, but when I questioned her about it, she said it was her way of thanking me for writing about things she is interested in and saying things she wishes she could say.
I ran into Katie around town quite a bit after that. I saw her at the vet with her beloved dog, Louie, and I ran into her again at the mall just recently. By this time, I knew Katie was sick, and along with everyone else in our community, I was pulling for her. She was a warrior, but ultimately she lost the battle. Maybe she was also taken early so she could also be preserved as the bright, shiny person we all remember?
I’m sad again about losing somebody special too early but I’m thankful that she was a fan of mine, because if she wasn’t, I never would have had the opportunity to become a fan of hers—and I will always be a fan of hers.
And when I show up to her funeral, I will be wearing the Bendel bracelet she got me, along with many others, because I know that’s what she would have wanted.
Thank you for being here.
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