One of Kat’s favorite book or movie series was the Harry Potter series. Last night while with some neighbors at the dog park by my apartment, several of us who loved this series talked about the different aspects of the series we liked.
This morning as I was working on just getting going with the day I realized something: We are Kat’s horcruxes.
In the Harry Potter series, the evil wizard Voldemort keeps himself in this world, active in it, beyond death by creating horcruxes. Horcruxes are objects he curses, placing a part of his soul into, so that as long as they exist, he continues. In Harry Potter this is an evil act. The only way to create a horcrux is to do great violence, taking the life of others. Voldemort’s horcruxes are a sign of his great evil, his lust to steal life from this world that he might live.
My late wife was not evil, but a good woman. She loved passionately, lived with a fire for life that was contagious. This was even true, perhaps most especially true, when the condition that took her life, Arnold Chiari Malformation, had the most trying impact on her.
The reason Voldemort must kill, do violence, and drain the life force of others in Harry Potter is that he never truly learned to lived. He lived turned in on himself, centered on his own desires. He never learned to see what is always going on around us – the light of the sun through the clouds, the call of the birds, a child’s laugh, the joy of each moment. He never learned to see the beautiful and the good in each person, which if you see it fully in another, how can you not love them faults and all? My wife on the other hand did. Doing this fills you with life. In my wife’s case, it filled her wife life over-flowing.
Last night in speaking with a friend who was like a daughter to us, although far too near us in age to really fit the term, I told her that in many ways this is how I like to imagine my wife. She was so full of life. So full of love. For others. For me. For each person. For all the furry and feathered creatures of the world. Even for people who hurt her that I always, in my cynical way, thought she ought to just forget. She loved. She stayed open. In college, when I first met her, and she ran around southern California on little metal crutches which clicked like metronome while she walked, I remember being amazed at her bustling energy. Someone in far better health than her, one day, sat exhausted from a less taxing day than Kat’s and wondered aloud, “Where do you get this energy?” This question is one I heard often of her in life, even these last few years when each day she was met with unimaginable pain. Her answer, with her signature smile that could light up any room and her laugh that was like the music of morning birds, was “well I may only appear 4 foot 10 inches on the outside”, which was a feature of her scoliosis, “but I’m really ten foot tall inside, so I’m in a constant state of explosion”. Her soul, so full of and in love with life, was like some supernova, a fiery sun of fusion light, glowing to fill this world.
So I like to picture her passion like that. I like to picture her riding this rising tide of undying life which always characterized whom she was. Those of you who aren’t people of faith can imagine it as if it is just a matter of her big personality. For me, as a life-long believer in a living God found in each person and every faith to whom all of our religions are but crayon drawings of, but whom I know most fully in the Christ whom death could not hold, this was her participation and sharing in that undying life which broke my Christ out of borrowed tomb.
I imagine her, on the banner week, when she had loved and sang for joy on brightly hued mountain hillsides in Appalachia, played with our furry friends, and spent a week working on and attending a conference full of spirit in which strong woman celebrated each other’s gifts including her own. That night she came back from conference she was on top of the world, raving about the joys she saw there. She could not stop talking of these amazing woman of faith, ladies of Spirit, and how they renewed her hope and faith. She was like a great surfer that night, riding high the waves of love and life. Her body could not contain all the life she was soaking in and radiating. And so, like Elijah rode on the flaming chariot of God’s undying life out of this world leaving a confused Elisha staring at the empty husk of Elijah’s mantle, so my dear Kat rose out of that body. Truly she did explode – her brain going super-nova. But she was already gone, rising up like Elijah, riding like some Silver Surfer on the wave of life eternal. And now, suddenly, she no longer had to be in a state of explosion, for she filled a world with her life.
We who are left are like Elisha. Elisha saw his friend’s empty mantle, abandoned by Elijah in the rising tide of divine glory that life a fiery chariot flung him to heaven. So I found her body like empty clothes, a mantle left for me, which she already had flown away from the ocean wave white-capping in the great unknown where God and all the angels & saints of every faith and land have risen into glory.
And yet since she was full of life, like Elisha did, I find her spirit in me and around me, and in all who loved her. While Voldemort sucked down the life of others, draining them to empty, Kat was so full of love and life that to know her was to be changed. Her fullness of love and life left us with brimming water in places in our soul we did not know existed, so that even in her passing we find some of her in us, with us, through us.
I wrote to her anti-bullying group, these young people whom she loved so unswervingly, the following:
“One of the things that has helped me with Kat’s passing is to remember to kind to myself. This is very hard sometimes for me. Often I’m the last person I think of. Often I beat myself up too much. Especially when I think of what could have beens with Kat… all we never got to that we dreamed of. I feel like some of you sometimes have trouble being kind to yourself. I think some of you beat yourself up too much, from what you’ve told me. Here is a trick that worked for me: I stop myself and say “if Kat were here, what would she say to you about this? If Kat were here, what would she do to help your life get better?” And I then say that to myself. I then do that for myself, even if I don’t feel I deserve it or even if it goes against what I would naturally do. I don’t know if this will help you, but it has helped me. Some of you, like me, believe that Kat is still there in the other world we all go to in death and for you it can be a way to feel close to her, connected to where she is in God/Faith/Spirit/Higher Power. For some of you, you don’t see the world this way and it can be a way to really sense, know, and feel that though her body has returned to the earth, she really does live on in you and me as we remember the love and lessons she taught us. In so far as we are kind to ourselves, loving to ourselves, and kind to others as Kat was and taught us to be, Kat still lives on in and through us. Anyway, hope that helps some of you.”
By living into the love, lessons, passion and kindness of her own which she poured into each of our lives, we are Kat’s horcrux. Even if you do not, as I do, believe she has entered a new and deeper life in glory, when you let yourself live into all the life, love, passion, and compassion Kat has poured into your life, know: she lives. She lives through you. And as long as you and I live into that, she cannot completely die. For we preserve her by letting her love, compassion, passion, and zest for life continue in us.