I distinctly remember the first time I saw her. It was early September, the beginning of grade ten. I was sitting with some friends, backs against the lockers in the hallway. I noticed her immediately as she walked towards us, and it shook me, because when I say noticed, I mean it was as though my soul recognized her. She had the most amazing smile, an undeniable sparkle in her eye, and a fiery spirit that made her glow. Her name was Katie and we became inseparable. She changed my character in profound ways, she showed me love, resilience and strength like no one in my life ever had before. She was my best friend, my kindred spirit and one of the greatest teachers of life that I would ever know. And she came and went too quickly.
On a fateful night in November 1998, Katie fell asleep behind the wheel of her car as she drove home from visiting family in Halifax. I remember dropping the phone and feeling the numbness spread through my body. But more incredibly, I remember the feeling of disbelief and gratitude I felt as my mom and I drove home from a friends house late that night. As I looked out my frosted window, into the peaceful black night, I watched the blanket of new fallen snow rise up to meet the stars. I closed my eyes and prayed for a sign. Let me know she's okay. Show me that she's okay. Show me that her spirit is whole and soaring. Show me. I remember opening my eyes, I remember the hair rising up on my arms. I remember the calm that entered my heart. I remember the way that the snow lit up and sparkled as though someone had captured the sun and let it almost escape. The brief shimmer that spread across the white blanket. The wave that said good-bye, I'm okay. It was Katie who taught me first, to watch for the signs. She's been winking at me ever since.
In the past month, I have received message after message commenting on my strength and my courage.
And while I accept these messages with an open heart and gratitude, I can only take so much credit because as a whole person, I am merely the sum of the beautiful people who have come into my life. And so I want to thank you.
I want to thank my beautiful family and my amazing friends for their love and unrelenting support. Thank you to the communities I have belonged to in the past who have joined hands and hearts and have caught my family, and continue to hold us tightly. Thank you to the teachers who have left your mark. Thank you for embracing my vulnerability and accepting my words. Thank you for your love and your belief in us as worthy.
My greatest fear, that comes with the cancer diagnosis is not of dying or of death, my fear is of leaving Dave and Coady in a life that is absent of me. However, the other night, as I took a moment to look around the room, a room that was so full of life and love it was palpable, I was filled with love, gratitude and a deep sense of knowing that everything will be okay. Dave and my little Coady would be guarded, and loved and adopted by this amazing community that we have surrounded ourselves with. What more could I possibly ask for? I am indeed a fortunate soul who will always have faith in the signs. Thanks Kate, I love you too.
“If the only prayer you say in your entire life is – 'thank you' – that is enough.”
Meister Eckhart (1260-1328)