Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Open letter to a friend

This is kind of like when we drove out to see Haley's Comet at 4:00 in the morning. Remember?

As we drove to Lake Afton Observatory, we passed a car on the side of the road. We didn't think much of it.

It was so cloudy that we couldn't see the comet through the telescope. The car was still there when we drove by again an hour later. We thought the guy had a heart attack or something and we stopped to check on him. Turns out, he was just sleeping (or something) and jerked awake when we went to check on him. We scared the crap out of him and he scared the crap out of us when he roared out onto the highway. He probably thought we were going to carjack him. We laughed the whole way home. I still tell that story.

We missed the comet, and much like that, I missed the opportunity to see you one last time. You'd probably tell me, laced with realism, something like "I want you to remember me when I was strong and we had fun."

You're probably right.

I'm so sorry I didn't get to tell you all of this in person. I couldn't come for the candlelight ceremony. I drove down to Wichita hoping to see you either Sunday or Monday.  My rotten luck... I missed getting to see you. Your Mom said you were wiped out Sunday after the candlelight vigil and they were getting you ready to go home.  I missed the serenade Monday because I had to get the boys back home to Kansas City.

So here goes with the stuff that I wanted to say.
First of all, some of the Sig Ep alums were trying to come up with a way to honor you, and we decided to steal the DG anchor and take it to your Mom's. For several of us it would be a second offense, we decided to go a different route.

Instead, we're going to have a memorial placed at the Pavilion of Heroines at the Center for Women's Studies on the WSU campus. Probably more mature. I'm writing the bio, so your legacy is kind of at my mercy. (Insert maniacal laugh and villain-y mustache twirl here.)

Of course, I'm kidding. Don't worry. I'm going to tell people how great you are, because I know you would never do that. But I will, because in addition to the legacy you've created with your students, I want other people to see what you meant to us every day. I'll let someone else choose the photo, though. 

Something you probably don't know.
I still have the copy of "The World According to Garp" that you gave me for Christmas when we were freshmen. It's one of my faves, along with "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Catcher in the Rye" and "On the Road." I'm going to finally write the book you always said I should write, and I'm going to dedicate it to you. You've been as much a part of my career choice as anyone, and you are definitely the inspiration for wanting to get this done now. You chose to change careers and now, I will also. So, if it gets published, you get the dedication.

As I've watched you go through this battle with such grace, I so admire the woman you are. Not only have you raised awareness, you have helped each of us prepare. You truly are a teacher.

I'm so glad I got to spend a few hours with you when I was home back in the spring. I'll miss our frenzied text message conversations, and those occasions when we got to see each other.

This isn't the way I wanted to let you know how I feel, but I'm fairly certain that you know anyway.

I'll never forget you. I am honored to be your friend. If it exists, I'm certain that you will have as special a place in heaven as you do in my heart.

I love you, Kelli.