Two weeks ago I lost a friend in a tragic car crash. She was a friend from work that I saw everyday of my life and lunched with at least 3 out of 5 days in a work week. She was killed by a drunk driver on the freeway. Survived by her 17 year old daughter, she was as far as I know a single mom. I am shocked and devastated.
Prior to this, I hadn't given much thought to drunk drivers. I knew it was wrong, of course. I was aware of the destruction that could be caused by drinking and driving. But it wasn't a cause I put a lot of focus in. Until it affected me directly.
I felt silly crying over a co-worker. I felt like her family and close friends deserved to be more upset than I was. I felt as if I was taking away from them by being upset because I have only known her for a short time. But the truth is that she touched my life in a big way during the small amount of time of knowing her.
As a Latino Lesbian woman, she was out, proud and strong. Not just about her sexual orientation, but her ethnicity, her New Jersey origin and being a single mom. She was out front and center about who she was. She was also determined to make anyone that spoke to her, just as comfortable as she was in her skin, in theirs.
Without me even telling her and without her knowing me longer than a few months, she tuned into my weaknesses. She could tell that I was a giver and at most times strong and controlled. Not because I want to be, but because I have had to be for so long. She noticed how I am nurturing and overbearing in my relationships with others because I am afraid to let go control to the other person. Not because I want to, but because I fear that others will not be able to pick up the slack I extend. As a control mechanism, I hold it all down so I don't have to feel disappointed. That's pretty deep conversation to have over onion rings. But that was Karen.
She was a counsellor at heart but would sandwich her sessions with hilarious antidotes and wise cracks. She would produce jokes that would make me belly laugh even after I went home for the day.
She made me realize that wanting to accomplish my dream of having career and family was admirable. That I shouldn't feel like I am being selfish in wanting both. She reassured me that it was myself that was torturing myself (Fight Club Style). I should let go, just live life and see what happens. It's refreshing to hear this from a stranger. Without any prior inhibitions or previews of who I used to be clouding her opinion. Worth it's weight in Gold.
When I heard of her death, I went to the bathroom at work and cried for what seemed like hours. Because I wasn't ready for her to leave this earth. There was a beginning blossom of a beautiful friendship happening. But after time passed, I realized that I was meant to have her in my life for just the amount of time that I did.
I was truly touched by an Angel. Her inspiration has been given. It's up to me to take it from here. And now she can be an Angel to the Universe and help so many other people. Thank you, Karen. Rest in Peace, Friend.