How do you thank someone who played so many roles in your life? Kathy was my best friend, mentor, counselor, and a healthy woman role model all in one little package. She was a recovering alcoholic and an incest survivor. Kathy was a woman, a mother, a wife, and a friend to many people. She befriended a lot of people, including the man who murdered her on the day after Christmas 1992.
Many people loved and admired Kathy including me. Kathy taught me about myself as a woman and as an incest survivor. She taught me that it was ok to feel whatever I felt. Rage, fear, self-hatred, sadness, hurt, joy and love---she taught me how to feel all of those. I should rephrase that---she taught me how to bring them to the surface. I always felt them. I just denied the feelings and surpressed them. I was afraid of my feelings, but that is another story. Kathy gave me hope that I could heal. She showed me how to do the necessary work for me to heal and gave me a safe place to do that work. She was one of the angels that God has put in my life. I only knew Kathy for a very short 3 years.
When I first met Kathy, my friend, Jack, brought her to Hot Springs, Arkansas specifically to meet me. Jack and I had been friends for less than a year when he introduced Kathy and I. Kathy was from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She and Jack met when he went to Minneapolis to get a college degree in Substance Abuse Counseling. Kathy was doing the same. She and Jack got their degrees and moved to Hot Springs. She and Jack got married in Hot Springs in 1990.
Kathy's dream was to help women in recovery from drugs and incest. She and Jack set up a women's group of incest survivors that met in their home for a year before she died. Kathy was the real leader of the group because she was an incest survivor herself and a recovering bulimic. Because of her own experiences, she always knew what to say and when to say it. Jack had the book knowledge but not the empathy that Kathy had. She lead a group of 6-8 women onto the road to discovery and recovery. She taught me that it was ok to say "no". She taught me to address my anger when it came up rather than stuffing it back down. Before I met Kathy, I was like a volcano whose pressure would build until one day I would explode in rage all over Daniel. Daniel was usually the one who would get the worst of my rage. Most people have never even seen me angry. Kathy taught me better ways to release my anger so it wouldn't hurt others or myself.
Kathy was no saint. She was a woman with real problems in her life. As a young woman, she spent some time in jail because one of her husbands left her in the car while he went in and robbed a store. She got caught. Because of her 5 children, whom she loved very much, she decided it was time to heal and change her life. When I met her, I think she had about 10 years in Alcoholics Anonymous. She was very proud of that. She had been a recovering bulimic for a number of years when I met her.
Kathy taught me that it was ok to be angry with God. I always told myself that God had turned His back on me when the incest happened. In my heart, I knew it wasn't true but it felt good to blame someone. I thought that I wasn't good enough for God to love me. Kathy taught me that this wasn't true. She told me that God's shoulders were broad enough that He could take any anger that I wanted to throw at Him and that He would still love me. In Al-Anon and Alcoholics Anonymous, I learned about a God of my understanding. With Kathy's help, I realized that it was me who turned my back on God and He was just waiting for me to turn back around.
Kathy was a real woman whose life was cut short by a bullet to the back of her head. The man who shot her needed help. She heeded his call for help and paid the ultimate price with her life. She died several hours later in the hospital. This was the same hospital which she had tried to take the man who shot her. A young woman that Kathy knew had asked her to drive her and the man to the hospital. He had taken himself off of his medicines, started drinking and was feeling suicidal. The 2 women got into the front seat of the car. The man got into the back seat. Neither of the women knew what would happen next. He pulled out a gun and shot them both. The young woman died instantly. She left behind a husband and small baby who was less than a year old.
A friend once told me that she thought that Kathy's death was the payment of a karmic debt between her and the man who shot her. I don't know if that is so or not. What I do know is that Kathy died doing what she loved---helping others.
Kathy, I love you and thank you for the huge impact that you have had on my life. You saved my life and my family with the things that you taught me. You were with me when I faced my mom and told her about the incest. You helped me deal with my anger at my mom before this confrontation so that I would not abuse her with that anger. You helped me go from self-hatred to loving and nurturing myself. You taught me to play again.
There is one day that you and I shared that I will always cherish. I wore shorts and tennis shoes and had my hair in pig tails. So did you. We were a sight and we didn't care. We were going to spend the whole day, just the 2 of us, playing. We went to Tiny Town with all of its miniature buildings. We went to the animal I. Q. Zoo and the parrot flew at us when the cannon went off. We laughed and laughed that day. We ended the day with you buying me a small crystal to remember the day by. We were 2 little girls playing and laughing. It was one of the best days of my life. You started me on the road to a better life. I thank you.