This morning I woke up, my right hand was so stiff that I couldn’t close it. The dogs were on the bed at six a.m. pushing their nose under my hand begging for attention. I was stiff as a board getting out of bed and feeling very sorry for myself but I got out of bed, fed the dogs, let them out and read my emails. The first one I saw just said, “MOM”. At first I thought it was a joke, one of those long emails that ends with a punch line. But as I read on, I realized that it was no joke and that one of my dearest friends in Europe, The Auntie Mame of my life, The female Pied Piper who brought all kinds of wonderful people together, was seriously ill in a hospital and the doctors don’t know what is wrong with her as she lapses into a coma.
I met Kate at a garage sale. It was the best garage sale I had ever been to in my life. Everything was rustic, ethnic, woody, incredible… it was such a good garage sale I went back twice because the first one hundred dollars I spent just wasn’t enough. Kate was there on the first day, and there she was on the second day. We stood by a table of hand carved Indian bowls and I snapped them up. She said, to me, “I got those is a small town just outside of Calcutta.” I looked at her with incredible curiosity. “YOU got them.” “Yes, this is MY garage sale.” “What do you do?”, I asked like a precocious child. “I’m a writer.” Is all she said and there was an instant bond. We talked for a little bit, exchanged numbers and a promise to meet at the Deli for a proper introduction. About ten days later she called. We met. And the friendship was bonded for life.
Kate had lived in Europe. She wrote travel articles for magazines…but it was her life that was more interesting than any article she could have written. She had three adult children, each more gorgeous than the next. I would kid her and tell her she got her family from central casting. They had lived in Europe and her children all spoke several languages…fluently. Her son was an Adonis, her two daughters could have walked down the runway of any fashion show in Milan or Paris. Her husband looked like a leading man from a forty’s MGM musical. They just were the most stunning family I had ever seen.
As I got to know Kate she would introduce me to the most wonderful group of people I had ever wanted to know, writers, fashion designers, French surgeons, French literary agents… it was the Algonquin all over again. And Kate was the Belle of the ball. She would hold these massive dinner parties where 16 to 20 people would sit around a football long table and drink and eat and laugh for hours.
It was Kate who introduced me to Blossom Folb, the incredible 92 year old artist. It was Kate who introduced me to Sam and Julie Bobrick… to Anne LeClarc… and on and on. It was Kate who called me to help her organize Blossom’s paintings and to help her organize a showing of Blossom’s work at The Pasadena Playhouse, a show where Blossom sold more painting in that week than she had in 20 years.
Kate was an huge part of my life. And so when she announced that she was moving back to Europe…that she couldn’t take the hum-drum of the United States I knew she meant it and that my life would be a little duller from now on. Duller? Why? It was Kate who cooked a dinner at my house where Marcia Wallace brought Brett Sommers and we all talked and laughed until way into the morning. It was Kate who brought me out of my deep depression and into the light, who made me feel alive again… who made me feel vital and was so happy when my play was optioned. It was Kate who would sit and talk with me until the wee hours of the morning. And now, I would have to move on without her cheering me and being my best bud. And it was Steve who sat there staring at the computer screen reading an email from her daughter… “She’s in an induced coma, her vital organs are failing, she’s on a dialysis machine because her kidneys are blocked. “
At first I thought it was a joke but then as I read on I realized it was not. Kate was in a hospital in Italy and was fighting for her life. And for the first time in a long time I knew what helpless was.
This getting older is not for sissies. We have to buck up to some really horrible things… illness, death, struggle and the loss of friends and family. Kate is not gone… Kate will never be gone… she can’t be gone… she can’t have come into my life and be gone… I just won’t allow it. And so I say a little prayer for my dear, dear friend and hope that God hears it and gives her a little extra time.
Jesus Christ I’m sick of writing this kind of blog…why can’t everyone be well and just live forever?
Here’s an entry I never wanted to make. We lost Kate two hours ago. That wonderfully mad woman who taught me about life and food and living and fun and travel is gone. There will be a place in my heart that will never be filled. My wonderful Kate is gone.