I once read that being a bearer of hope means choosing to run into the pain, rather than away from it. If anything is clear to me- if this is the true litmus of hope- then I know of no one else who exemplified it more gracefully than this woman. Kaity's was the kind of hope that drew you in because you couldn't quite make sense of it. How could someone who had absorbed so much pain emanate such light? Even now, I'm at a loss for words to articulate it. But those who knew and loved her know exactly what I'm talking about.
I think it comes back to what Father Richard Rohr said: "Transformed people, transform people."
Case in point: I've known Kaity for little more than a year, but the depth of our friendship seems somewhat disproportionate to those months. Our relationship began last October with an email asking me to do pictures for her new website. I love that photography has often been merely a "jumping off point" for some of the more meaningful relationships I have. And so it was with Kaity. Her story captivated me, like it has so many who've heard it.
Last year, she participated in one of my Lens of Hope projects (because who better to kick off the series than her?). "It was so much ''easier" (if I can even use that word) to write about "My Friend, Kaity, Who Cured Her Own Cancer" because it was something that happened then; it was simply the rock bottom that became her rebound. But now, eight months later, I'm struggling to tie the pieces together in a way I never wanted to, in a way that will somehow make sense, knowing I won't fully be able to. Part of me wants to be angry and bitter, but I simply can't. That's perhaps one of the greatest gifts that she gave to me, and to those of us who are still here in this gaping void she left. No one ever questioned her willingness to die- in all senses of the word.
One of the many tattoos adorning Kaity's body is one that she got during her second battle with Ovarian cancer- the symbol for the Hebrew word "heneni," which means, Here I am," (the response Abraham gives when God calls him to sacrifice his own son, Isaac). I think back to that instagram post last year on her birthday, and her words, "Here's to the bravest year yet." My grief wants me to object, my flesh wants to point to all the things she wanted to do, had trained to do, will never get to do. But I know in my heart she was right. 370 days ago- on her 39th birthday- she quite obviously understood the nuances of her own bravery. She had always known what was potentially at stake. Few of us could say that we will go where He wants us to go- even if it means physical death, and then ultimately dance our way there. He called to her, and my dear friend answered. Every. Single. Time. And what a beautiful dance it was to watch- sure footed, graceful, and mysterious. I so wish for more time to watch you dance, Kaity. I'll always long for that. But I couldn't be more proud of you- friend, sister, goddess, daughter of the Divine.
"And those that were seen dancing
were thought to be insane
by those who couldn't hear the music."