So, we’re on our way tomorrow to the funeral of my mom’s cousin, whom I sort of, kind of, absolutely adored. I didn’t know her as well as I would’ve liked–it’s kind of hard to do so when you only see each other at weddings/funerals/birthday parties. The illness that lead to her death was sudden news to us, and all I kept saying, to my mom and to David was, “Kathy?! Our Kathy?” Because it just didn’t seem possible that somebody like her could cease to live.
This isn’t meant to be a depressing post, so you can keep reading. Honest. I just had to tell you that what I loved most about Kathy–besides her laugh, of course, which seemed to come easily and sounded exactly like her mother’s–was how much she liked me. Isn’t that terribly narcissistic, to think about yourself like that when someone’s died? But that’s how I felt. It was always so clear to me that she really, truly liked me–she liked my sense of humor, she asked to read my writing, she loved the relationships between me and my mom and my aunt and my grandmother (aka, Kathy’s aunt. Are you keeping all this straight?). She just seemed to light up whenever we spoke. Of course, watching her from outside a conversation, it was clear that she brightened up like that with most of her family, but that’s not my point. We’re talking about me right now.
The day we found out that we were probably going to lose Kathy, I was talking to Dave about her, and about this characteristic of hers–how she made me feel just so darned good whenever I was around her. And I said to him that I’m starting to wonder if what we love most about people is how they make us feel about ourselves. His response? That it all boils down to love. He said that how we make the people in our lives feel about themselves is how we show them we love them. Yes, he’s a deep one, this husband of mine.
But I don’t know. I truly believe that some people just have a knack for showing people the good in themselves. My friends Susannah and Annie are good ones for that. They both have this way of cutting right to the chase and seeing a person, bare bones and all, for the good they have. David’s dad was another, and boy do I miss him. Children, too, have this power. They seem to pick out all the good qualities in a person they love and just ignore the rest. I wish I were like that. Kathy had the ability, at least with me. Yes, I only saw her a couple times a year, but by golly if she just didn’t make the world seem like it’d created a spotlight, just for me. Maybe David’s right. To show people you love them, you have to let them bring all their good stuff–their personalities, their talents, their idiosyncrasies–to the light, and just pretend the bad is back in the shadows. Because if you recognize all that is good in a person, it makes her want to be that person she sees reflected in your eyes. Kathy did that for me. And now I need to figure out to turn the spotlight on for somebody else.