It was August when I received a call from my cousin, informing me that his wife Kathy had lost her battle with lung cancer. I offered him any solace I could and a willing ear. He said he would be back with specifics regarding the arrangements. After the call I took a moment, reflecting on Kathy. She was a wonderful person. A steadfast, loving and dedicated wife to my cousin and as much, as a mother to their children. And a compassionate friend to me, as she was, to many. Her wake was more than well attended by family, friends, and including colleagues, students and parents from the school that was fortunate to have her as a teacher for so many years. The type of attention and love she gave to her children she bestowed upon her students, who were her children away from home. At a corner of the funeral home was an ongoing video displaying a collage of photos and videos of home and school. Kathy’s profound positive effect, in the lives of all who came to know her, was etched on the faces of those viewing the video and those preserved in it.
In September, I and my family invited my cousin, Ed, and his children, to celebrate Thanksgiving with us. I, having experienced loss, knew how difficult first holidays can be, in the absence of loved ones. I have known Ed since we were children. He has always been regarded more as a brother than a cousin. I knew it would be a comfortable setting, as they managed through their first holiday without Kathy. As grace before dinner was being said, each of us who hosted, shared a fond or humorous remembrance of Kathy. Through the tears and laughter of the moment, I realized something most important. Kathy was loved. Although we struggled through the pain of loss, there was still joy’s presence, in that love.
What then, is the worst thing that you could be told? That you are going to die. Or, You are not loved. Life without love is no life at all. You can be physically alive, yet dead. Kathy’s legacy then, is not just the courage she exhibited as she shouldered her cross of selflessness, for the sake of those dear ones she was regretfully leaving behind. But, first and foremost, the love she left with we, her dear ones, who celebrated her at our thanksgiving dinner. That same love, she would take with her.
Alan A. Malizia