I had my suspicions for maybe 2 yrs. prior and had encouraged her to seek attention but nothing shatters the mind and soul like hearing that news for the first time. On Jan. 22nd, 2010, she told me and all I could do was primally cry, "Nooooooooooo!" All is revealed and decimated instantaneously. 2010 became a death march, for none of us live forever but some of us are whittled away. What is the expression, "Death by a 1,000 cuts"?
Kara Michelle Engel was loved by many people (I realized how many only in death and still think that number is rather inestimable really) but she didn't want anyone to know she was ill. She wanted to get this over with and return to her old life. This was a healthy perspective and she was very optimistic. I wanted to support and share that optimism, so no one was to know and I honored her wish.
Still, everything turned gray for me because as I enjoyed the world, I knew she could not and therefore, nothing could hold much meaning for me outside of her presence. I spent a great deal of time with her, drawing, reading trashy mags, laughing, eating healthy foods, drinking homemade juices or coffee, having fun with her iPad, not really watching movies (as was her favorite past time), talking about life and talking about death. She was in the most loving, beautiful environment that anyone could hope for, surrounded by her sister, Bob and many animals. I thought, "For all the years I harrangued her about moving back to Claremont, I shoulda been making an exit plan to move in with her." It was lush, but not overly extravagant- kinda bohemian and classy. She had her art and those of her friends hanging all around her.
Much was illuminated in her death and in the aftermath. I have shared some of this already and some I can not share. Love is absolute, and all that exists forever even if our species extinguishes itself. We are born of it and only leave it behind. But also, there are reasons behind every mystery, some so obvious and mundane that you hafta wonder why you never saw them to begin with. Some that change the landscape of your mind, they are so profound. The largest mysteries are beyond our comprehension entirely (this I guess I always knew since I am agnostic and Taoist- anything else seems to give humans far too much credit) and my only hope is that Kara is now learning those things because she taught me so much in her life and her death. If she is not everywhere and in everything as I hope, at least she examined the complexities and loved the world fully, exactly as it was. She really was very Christlike in my mind, right up to the last. Anyone who knew her, can attest to the magnitude of her spirit. Staggering is all that you can really say.She left with her heart shaped face, and her magnanimous heart and her first name sounding like caring and her last name meaning angel, on Valentine's Day. While she symbolized love for me on all levels, this is tragic to the point of comedic. Really? The universe really has a fucked up sense of humor sometimes. Well, she always did have a flair for the dramatic, I guess. She loved the burning Mexican hearts w/their crisscross crowns of thorns. She painted them often over the years and recently surrounded them with algebraic equations (I figured x=death or x=love, depending on your mood).
I'm listening to the church bell tolling from across the street and it's going for several minutes. Longer than usual but I wish it would never end. Wish I had taken her inside, she would have loved the mission feel of it. Sam and I went to a service there once on a lark and it’s a real hybrid mishmash (it's Episcopalian [which I was raised], but also, Buddhist, Celtic and Aztec and only God knows what else) but why is it never the right mishmash for me, I wonder. I can be such a seeker and such a naysayer simultaneously. My mind never stops battling, I wish it would surrender. I can't will it to.
Since no one knew what was going on with Kara, it was very hard to look anyone in the eye, especially if they asked about her. I am better at subterfuge than I give myself credit for because it seemed painfully obvious to me, but apparently not to most people. Everyday came worse news about her state or a new emotional low for her or me or bad news about those close to her or those close to me. Close formative friends John Fornadley and Sean Davis self destructed and died. My friend Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head by a maniac and the country unravelled a bit more. For me personally, all of these were a drum roll, leading up to the death of Kara.