Tuesday, May 11, 2010

why I love my friend Kelly

Kelly has been battling cancer for over a year. She left the hospital yesterday and is in hospice care at home. Her family has asked us to respect their time together by not calling or sending emails or writing on her Facebook wall, but I wanted to say good-bye. I have sent this letter to her, but I don't know if she'll receive it in time, so that's why it's on my blog now. I'm also posting because I want other people to hear about this amazing woman. You can read more about Kelly on her co-authored blog, Notions and Threads. Please keep her and her family and friends in your thoughts.

Dear, dear Kelly,

I can't remember how or when we first met, though it must have been in the fall of 2000 through Steven and the Writing Center tutors. It just feels like we've been friends forever, as if we grew up playing together in the neighborhood park. And I bet that when Griffin and Ari meet one day, they will be fast friends too. (After all, they're already milk brothers!)

You play a big part in many of my happiest memories in Fort Collins, like initiating me into my very first Oscars party, our three-person dinner-party book club with Steven, wandering around Old Town, first talking about boys, later swapping ideas for our wedding plans. And even some of the not-so-happy, like when you and Ed and I went to see the entire cycle of Angels in America--so not a cheerful play--and couldn't stop talking about it during every intermission, at our dinner break, and afterwards.

And speaking of plays, I am still grateful for how much support you gave me when I was directing Le miracle de St. Antoine at CSU. Not only did you put up with my endless recitations of woe about how the students couldn’t memorize their lines, but you came to see it and laughed in all the right places and even threw me a party afterwards to celebrate!

And remember our joint yard sale here in Lafayette? It was like a slumber party for grown-ups--we all stayed up late throwing stickers on the stuff we didn't want anymore and talking and laughing, and it was your eye for aesthetics that allowed us to display everything so well the next day. (Also, you were the one who put her foot down to say that we really shouldn't be playing Steven's Wicked soundtrack in the background during a Saturday morning yard sale in the suburbs. And right you were!)

When you and Matt announced you were moving to Lexington, I knew I would miss you, but I also knew that we'd keep in touch, that we'd always be able to get on the phone and pick up where we left off, that we were sure to run into each other every few years in between travel, conferences, and whatnot.

We haven't seen each other since the summer of 2007, when you and Matt drove to Louisville to meet me for dinner one night while I was there grading AP exams. We sipped our non-alcoholic drinks because I was six weeks pregnant (though I hadn't told you yet) and you were trying. And we talked, talked, talked.

And then in 2008, Ari and Griffin arrived, giving us even more in common and even more to talk about! We went from sharing horror stories about teaching to swapping stories about labor, nursing, reinventing our identities as moms. I could tell right away that you were a fantastic mother. And when I confessed that I was really struggling with parenting, you made me feel better.

That's it, actually. That's exactly why you're an amazing friend. Because you always make me feel better. Every interaction I've ever had with you, I've walked away a little happier, a little more confident, with good ideas to try out, with stomach muscles aching from laughing, with the reassurance that things aren't as bad as I thought. There are very few people about whom I can say that.

But now it sounds like things are as bad as I thought, and my heart is breaking for you and Matt and Ari and your extended families and your closest friends. I want you to know that I have treasured our friendship. I so admire your strength, your warmth, your humor, your intelligence, your capacity for love, your inventiveness, your beauty--even your fashion sense! (I once asked one of my students who his composition teacher was, and he named you. "She's my friend!" I exclaimed. "She's so great," he said, "and she wears the best clothes.")

Kelly, thank you for making this often ugly world a more welcoming place through your caring and wisdom and laughter. I pledge to do more of that myself from now on in your honor. Thank you for your amazing friendship.

Much love from Sarah

May 14, 2010: Kelly passed away this afternoon. My heart is breaking.


  1. Oh, Sarah! What a lovely tribute! I hope she reads it in time. Cancer is such a horrible thing. Praying for you all!

  2. Sarah,
    I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. This was a very sweet and sincere letter you wrote to her. I see that you said that her family didn't even want people to post on her facebook page. I think that when tragedy strikes, people deal with their grief in different ways, often pushing others away when they need them the most. Her family may very well want to and need to read these kind words now because it will help them in the healing process. Hopefully you will find a way to send it to them as I am sure they will really be touched by it. And I can't imagine that one day, Ari won't want to read such a letter describing the kind of person his mother was.
    Just some thoughts from experience....
    un abrazo,

  3. Jeanne and Elizabeth--Thank you for your messages. It's so not fair. It's hard not to keep thinking (and crying) about her toddler son growing up without her. But yes, he'll know what an amazing woman she was.

  4. Just came across this blog and read this post. I am so sorry for your loss.

    You are so right that good friends make you laugh and you walk away from them strengthened and renewed.

    Wishing you well in continuing in your life that Kelly would be both proud of and able to find humor in. May you hear her commentary even though she's not there to say it.


  5. Dear Sarah,
    I came to your blog via notions and threads. I started the wellness tree blog project for Kelly (and it is continued now for Ari) I was so richly blessed in knowing her through these spaces online. I appreciate reading your personal letter about Kelly and with tears in my eyes, seeing this photo. Her bright spirit is sorely missed, with deep sorrow I am sorry for your loss. Warmly, Nicole

  6. My new baby daughter's middle name, Kellamarie, is in part tribute to Kelly. (The "Marie" is for her two grandmothers, Mary Kay and Marcia.)

  7. I knew immediately when I saw G's name. How very special! I do have to tell you that through you I have stumbled upon her mother's blog and I just LOVE it. I hope that you all are able to get together and cherrish the Little Ones.
    Un abrazo!