Star Wars, Cooking and Fond Memories

I have heard it said that when someone passes away that they will still live on in people's memories of them. I have struggled with that concept my whole life, not fully understanding or even slightly accepting this.

Until now.

When my friend passed away last November, it hit me hard.  Very hard.  We started only as coworkers, sharing mere niceties everyday.  We only worked together for a year and seven months but our niceties quickly became long conversations as we bonded over talk of raising kids, food, database management, Star Wars, and everything else.  We spent an entire day at Disneyland for my birthday long before ever knowing how momentous and memorable that day would be for me. 

Almost everyday something reminds me of her.

Two weeks ago I made chicken curry soup from scratch.  As I grabbed seasonings from the cabinet using no recipe, I got emotional thinking, "Ok Karen, I'm finally cooking."  Every eulogy and conversation about her starts and ends with her incredible love of food, cooking, restaurants, canning, gardening fresh ingredients, farmer's markets - a real foodie at heart.  When I met her she couldn't believe that I rarely cooked even the simplest dinner.  I feel inspired to make her proud in the kitchen.

Several months ago I had a particularly rough day at work, struggling to do my job and hers while still mourning the loss of my partner in crime.  Not sure why at the time, I decided to go a different route home and took the 10 freeway to Pacific Coast Highway.  And then a song came on the radio that hit me like a ton of bricks weighing heavy on my chest and heart.  It is the first song that was sung at Karen's funeral as we filed past her casket.  The tears as I drove down the freeway were uncontrollable, involuntary and all-consuming.  Suddenly I came through the McClure Tunnel and saw the most awe inspiring sunset over the beautiful waters of the Pacific Ocean.  "Thank you Karen for the beautiful reminder that there is light at the end of the tunnel."

Yesterday H noticed a "toy" on the kitchen counter and asked if he could have it.  We diverted his attention.  That is Karen's toy.  She kept three Star Wars Lego toys on the wall dividing our cubicles.  I knocked into those more times than I could count while leaning over to talk to her and each time she patiently fixed them.  When her husband came for her stuff at the office, I asked to keep one of the toys.  Everything Star Wars reminds me and my husband of Karen, bringing us back to her excitement in the Star Tours gift shop at Disneyland.  Yesterday my husband gave H a Lego Darth Maul and Qui-Gon which he hasn't put down since.  As I watch him playing with those toys, I imagine the day when we will show him the movies.  My husband and I will hold hands, smile to each other and both be thinking of Karen.

I miss my friend.  I wish that she could taste my culinary triumphs, could show me awesome dinosaur shirts for my son, could share details of her daughter's upcoming wedding, could be there with me for my first trip to the Stagecoach country music festival and so much more.  But I have learned the wisdom in those words that I so strongly doubted.  She has made an indelible mark on my life and she lives on in my daily thoughts of her.


Shoshanah said…
Death really is the weirdest thing isn't it? I really don't know what else to say except that this was a beautiful post. And also let you know that I've been reading along and following your posts. :)