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I’ve been quiet for the past week. I’ve been attempting to come to terms with a profound loss.
The friend with whom I have had the longest continuous bond in my life passed through the veil last week. Her death was quite unexpected though she’d had end-stage renal disease for years. She was on home hemodialysis, and waited hopefully for a transplant that never came. Kathe was a well-respected member of the renal patient advocacy community, working most recently for the Northeast Kidney Foundation. In the course of her work, and of her disease, she met hundreds of other kidney patients, spoke before the FDA, CMS, and many community and professional organizations, met with legislators, and travelled over the entire country in the service of others.
When her disease started to get her down, she took a course in clowning, and Kismet the clown was born – Kismet brought joy and laughter to ill and well alike at children’s hospitals, nursing homes, and fundraising events. In an article published (May 6th, 2013) in the national magazine Woman’s World about her clowning activities, Kathe was quoted as saying “Life is absolutely what we make of it.” She made a whole lot out of it! Here she is, as Kismet, with her friend, Sidney the Kidney.
Kathe and I met well over 40 years ago in Junior High School. As teens, we were inseparable much of the time. We walked to school together every day, slept over at one another’s homes, stayed up all night laughing and talking, dyed one another’s hair (hideously I’m afraid), made homemade tanning oil, read the same books, swooned over the same boys… the list goes on. Upon graduation from high school, we headed off to the same college, albeit with different majors, and graduated the same year. Even when our paths diverged, whenever we managed to get together, it was as though we had never been apart. She was a bridesmaid at my first wedding, Godmother to my daughter, and there for the second wedding as well. To say that I loved her would be an understatement.
She’s been mentioned indirectly on this blog a couple of times. I once bought an antique bottle for her which had held a patent medicine “kidney cure”, and I had intended to give one of my little house quilts to her. I will miss her so very much, as will her wonderful husband and her many, many other friends and acquaintances.
If you are reading these words, please consider becoming an organ donor, and, if you are in a position to do so, donate to the kidney cause of your choice. Many thanks, and if you knew Kathe, please feel free to post a memory in the comments.