"You're my person. I need you alive. You make me brave," I said to her, two years ago today. As if those words would have some affect on the outcome.
Kathryn was one of the few people who knew the parts of me that make me feel 'untidy, less than, frightened, and ashamed.'
"Don't hide those bits of you. Don't be afraid to show your brokenness, because out of it, comes great beauty, and no one knows that better than you, C," she fervently responded.
"But how? How can I do that now...when I've spent so much time hiding? Hiding from the truth, myself. Hiding from the pain I will undoubtedly have to feel again. Hiding from fear of judgment...especially since I wasn't honest for so long. Hiding from it all."
"Because you are brave. You're one of the bravest women I know. Because you are a deeply feeling person in a messy world. Because while I know you think it's not just your story to tell,...just think of all the people you could potential help. I know you can do this. BFF," she responded.
Why does she expect ME to use MY story, MY pain, MY growth to help OTHERS? Why does she challenge ME to grow in ways that might be more painful to ME?
Every fiber of my being knows the answer to that.
That was Kate.
Never one to focus on the "I", "ME", "MY" in the equation, but instead...
Always using her voice to help others.
A fighter for the underdog.
A lover of life and of people.
And she was my person.
Anytime I was upset, or doubtful, or fearful, or on any spectrum of the intense feelings I would often feel, she would often simply say, 'BFF'. It's all she needed to say because I knew that those three letters meant so much more than the typical 'best friends forever'. She was with me. Always.
Several months back, I stared at a blank page, ready to share. To start at the beginning of the story. But I couldn't. Fear, once again, consumed me.
How could I possibly do this without her? It's TOO LATE! This was our thing. These blogs. These spaces we sometimes used to bridge the gap between the hundreds of miles between us. How could I possibly send out into the world words that she hadn't proof-read? I need her to remind me again. I need her to help me be brave. She's my person. Why GOD? Why did you have to take her from me? Why? Why? Why? WHY?!?!?!?!?!
Sometime between audibly hearing myself scream, "WHY" and a ping from my messenger app, I instantaneously felt a wave of peace wash over me.
The date was March 30.
The message was from Kate's mom.
"Hi Casondra. I charged up Kathryn's phone yesterday and found something that I am going to send to your phone. It is from her. I just wanted you to be ready and aware. It brought chills."
Rebecca went on to tell me that she was looking at our text message history and that Kate had wrote me a text....the cursor was still winking on it. Kate never got a chance to hit send, so Rebecca was going to do that for her.
I'll forever be grateful for Rebecca's bravery that day in sending a message that would forever mean the blinking cursor would be gone on her end, because she knew the importance of receiving that message on mine.
Almost two months after she left this earthly place, I received THE message from Kate that would rock me to my core.
Three letters that would teach me one of the biggest lessons I've ever learnt in this life....
..... she's still alive.
And she will continue to be.
Inside of me. Inside of her mom, and her dad, and her brother and her son. Inside of every single person whose life was touched by her beautiful soul.
In August, when I was blessed to get to spend some time with her mom and son, Rebecca gave me a few gifts that I'll cherish forever:
A mouse pad with a picture of me and Kate from a trip we took to S.C. years ago, that Kate used for years. It's found a forever home at my computer, where looking at it, daily, is a reminder to live authentically. To strive to be the best version of me I can be. To live with purpose. And to never let fear prevent me from being brave.
A CD with a lot of her favorite songs that I listen to every day while waiting in car rider line to pick up my girls.
And her 'Our Lady of Grace' aka Mother Mary figurine. It brought her comfort when she needed it the most and it brings me comfort daily.
Kinsey recently had to write a memoir at school about a painful experience in her life. She allowed me to read it last night. To say I cried while reading her words about one of the scariest days of her life would be an understatement. But she was brave. She was brave in her actions that day and she was brave to share about it now.
I hear you, Kate.
I know it's time.
It's time to show up.
Time to share my story.
It's time to be brave.