My dear friend Kerry,
For a couple of years now, you and I have talked about the realizations I think are common to our age, those last days of the exuberant hope and fire that typify our lives well into our 20s. I want to tell you that I always had the feeling that every conversation that I had with you was somehow too short, that if only our lives were different, we would have had more time to talk or to finish the conversation we’d started. In many cases, you listened more than you talked, but those few important words that you uttered from time to time were small treasures that gave all of us around you insight into your true personality.
On many occasions I remarked to you that I could not fully accept the idea that someone could be alive and vibrant one minute, but the next minute, not. I remember that I talked about the sudden death of John Ritter, and we then talked about some of his work, including Sling Blade, and of course, Three’s Company. What would we have thought had we known then that your untimely death was looming and that you would become one of the group of people who’d died too soon? What would we have done? Would you have lived your life differently?
I like to think that you wouldn’t have. I feel happy to say that somehow I don’t think you would have changed anything–of all the people I know, Kerry, you came closest to appreciating life and living it for all it was worth. You always said thank you, and you alway told people what they did right.
Kerry, you have given me a special gift–you left me with no regrets. Tim told me that you said treat your friends like movie stars. You treated us all like that, and in turn, you allowed us to express ourselves to you freely. I feel happy, Kerry, that I had just recently thanked you for everything you’ve done for me, for your honesty, your trustworthiness, your reliability, and your dedication to your and our students.
I have talked with a couple dozen people in the last 48 hours, from all over the country, even the planet. All of them said pretty much the same thing about you. He is so kind. He was always so calm. What? He just did me a favor just yesterday. A little boy came to us just yesterday to find out if it was true, because he couldn’t believe what he had heard. You tutored him as normal, just hours before you died. He came to us, quiet and sad, with his mother to ask us whether it was really true that you had died. He looked up and asked simply, “Is it true?”
We had to tell him it was true. His mother handed us a check to give to your family, a donation to pass on to them.
My favorite memories of you Kerry are the ones in which you shone the most. Perhaps you were dressed up because you had a date that night (you were always very stylish!) or maybe you made one of the wry comments you were famous for. I remember you gave chocolates to Benny because he performed a task for you, and just today, Joanne told me that you always said to her, Take care of yourself, Joanne. She confided to me that she always thought that you were haler than she, so your death meant more to her for that.
Michele, who as you know is very sweet in personality, quietly and simply cried “I liked Kerry.” Every day when I come to work, I think I will see you there, darting from one place to another, perhaps with a handful of papers, always draped in your stylish clothes and Levis.
Every time I saw you Kerry, I felt a sense of relief to know that you were handling the things that you had commited to, and in most cases, just a little bit more. Kerry, after some ten years of working together in various settings, you had become my rock. But more–you added flair and sophistication to our workplace.
Kerry, you were too young; much, much too young by all standards. But I do feel honored to have been able to know you these many years. I like to believe that you are in a better place now and that perhaps you are even watching all of us. I know what you would be thinking right now. You would want to tell us to try to be happy, you would say, Thank you for coming to my memorial. I’m sorry you had to go through all of that.
And in the split seconds before I vainly tried to breathe life back into you, I imagined that you were embarrassed. Were you? Were you aware those last seconds, even though your body could not respond? I imagined an entire dialogue in those seconds; I could hear you saying No, I’m okay, Erin. In our split-second rapport, I replied to you. This time, I don’t care what you want, Kerry. This time I am going to do this, even if you don’t want me to. It didn’t work. Nothing did. It was over as soon as it began.
Kerry, thank you for everything. I miss you.