October 7th, 2009


Ode to Joy

I just got the news, and I wanted to write something somewhere. Putting it on my Facebook status seemed too tacky, and social phobia inhibits me from contacting one of my classmates. But the fact is, Karla Lemon deserves to be remembered.

Karla is a classmate of mine at the Wright Institute. She's probably in her mid-forties, maybe early fifties. Karla is a musician, plays many instruments but particularly loves the upright bass. She is a conductor, and she introduced herself to our class by saying that she is taking up therapy to "support my conducting habit". She knows all kinds of things about music.

Karla is a darling woman. She is anxious and self-conscious, constantly doubting her own abilities, but forever offering support and encouragement to others. She is emotional, easily moved to tears or frustration.

She was so sweet to me. When she saw me at each class she would hug me and call me "baby". She called me handsome. She congratulated me when I got engaged and consoled me when the engagement ended. Everything about her was motherly and dear.

I just found out that Karla went in for heart surgery the other day and suffered a massive stroke while under anesthesia. She went into a coma and is not expected to recover. Her partner--a woman who, barring the idiocies of our administrative systems, is for all intents and purposes her wife--has decided to take her home, removing her from life support. Karla will likely not live another 48 hours, and she will probably never wake up.

I did not know her nearly as well as I wanted to. I know she had gone through terrible challenges during her life, and that she had emerged from them to a place where she wanted to be of service to others. For all her doubts about herself, she would have been fantastic at this work.

It is in no way fair that Karla has been denied the chance to put her skills and gifts to work for the benefit of the world. What she had to offer, we cannot do without. As such, I feel it is the responsibility of her classmates and those who would have shared her work to embody all the traits that Karla would have brought to this field, given the chance. Her compassion, her empathy, her hopefulness, her love of beauty, her desire to always learn and improve herself, her bravery; these are things that make excellent therapists and great human beings, and though I did not know her as I should have, I believe that she would have wanted these things passed on.

I welcome this responsibility. I will mourn for Karla, and miss her terribly, and do honor to her memory by sharing the kindness she showed to me with those who need it. In this way I and whomever shares this responsibility with me will help to keep her alive, and continue bringing love and joy into the world in the same way she did.

Goodbye, Karla. I love you.