When I was in high school, I had this friend, Katya. She was the kind of friend you knew was going to back you up in a bar fight. Okay, so maybe we didn't actually have bar fights. But I'm pretty sure she would have been there for me. At least afterward to commiserate because I don't think she could have been in a fight. She was simply a Kind person, and no one would have felt the need to go head to head with her. She was the Kind that we have an extraordinary lack of in this world- Kind with no regard to her own benefit.
Last summer, after having not really spoken to her for ten years, I passed her on the street. She was walking hand-in-hand with a mini version of her. We did not make eye contact; I knew she didn't see me. And I didn't turn back to say hello to her. I didn't ask her how she liked being a mom. I remember that she was wearing a skirt, and I had a little bit of envy because she looked so pretty and I always hate myself in skirts. I didn't say, "Hey, Katya! It's so good to see you! You're looking pretty! And how is this little one?" I let her, and the moment, pass me by. Something about not wanting to draw attention to myself, to not take up someone else's time, not even one of the Kind ones.
Last week, Katya had her second baby. She was at home, yesterday, caring for this baby, and something went wrong. I'm still not clear on what, but apparently she suddenly started having leg pain, and she went to the emergency room. And from there, they tried to transport her to a different facility. She died in transit. A twenty-nine year old woman, with a husband and two babies.
There is, as there always is, a lesson in there. There is, more specifically, a lesson in there for me- and it's not the "hold your loved ones closer" or "life is short". I'm not sure what it is, yet. I'm going to have to seek it out. I do know that this world is now short another Kind one.
Everyone makes a mark. If you are around me long enough, chances are I will say to you, "Quelle heure est-il?", or, more accurately, through my lips will pass the highly bastardized, "killer-uh-teal?". It's how I ask every time, and often. This has to do with the fact that I'm apparently allergic to watches, and my cell phone is generally wedged into the back pocket of my too-tight jeans... Fourteen years ago:
Katya: What time is it?
Me: Yeah, got that bit. What was the next part?
Katya: Quelle heure est-il? Sorry? I thought you took french. It just means, "What time is it?".
Me, after a pause: So... "what-time-is-it-what-time-is-it"?
Katya, after a pause: Ha. Yep.