Amy Kates

I realized this morning that it's been almost six months since I've updated this thing.

I can blame it on being busy (which would be true),
I could say it's because I have to do all this writing for school so I don't have the brain power for anything else (which is also true).

But I don't think that's why I haven't been writing. Or at least, not the main reason I haven't been writing.

This summer was, without a doubt, the worst summer of my life.

Which really sucks because I did some really amazing, fulfilling things this summer. I interned at an awesome church all summer, an internship that transformed my views on congregational ministry. I got to be the director for Junior High Jubilee out at Mo Ranch, a conference that I have been involved with for the last seven years. I got to spend time with my family. For a few fleeting weeks, I exercised regularly and ate well and actually lost some weight.

Those were all amazing, wonderful parts of my summer. It was still the worst summer of my life.

June 14th I got a call letting me know that one of the most important women in my life had suffered a major heart attack. Amy, my host mom during my YAV year in New Orleans and someone I consider a mentor and a friend, went to the hospital on the 13th with symptoms of a heart attack. She coded at the hospital. By the time I got to New Orleans on the afternoon of the 14th she was in a medically induced coma. I stayed in New Orleans for four days.

Amy was my host mom and along with Amy came the whole Kates family. Andy and Amy, and their children Maggie and Sam had happily welcomed me into their family when I moved to New Orleans. I went to Mardi Gras parades with them and had countless dinners at their house. Every year I lived in New Orleans Amy would bake me a cake for my birthday. I went to Maggie's ballet performance and I lived in New Orleans long enough to watch Sam go from 5'5 to 6'2. The least I could do was sit by Amy's hospital bed and give Andy and Maggie and Sam some time to eat real food and take showers.

On July 9th, three weeks into Amy's medically induced coma, she died from complications. Ironically her heart, the organ that started this whole mess, was working just fine. It was just the rest of her body that couldn't make up for the time lost when her heart stopped beating that very first night at the hospital.

Nothing I can say, or write, will ever fully encompass what an incredible woman Amy was. She was intelligent, she was opinionated, she was kind, she was a great listener, she was gracious, she was welcoming. She liked to gossip with me about the latest church drama, and she absolutely loved telling stories about her family. She bragged about her kids all the time. She wanted them to be happy and successful and socially conscious.

I have lots of stories about Amy. Stories where we drank wine and traded theories about Game of Thrones, or the time she convinced me to try yoga or all the times she sat and listened while I whined about roommates and housemates and best friends and boyfriends. We seriously considered trying to find Beyonce and Jay-Zs home in New Orleans more than once.

But this is probably my favorite story:

My second year in New Orleans the house I was living in was broken into. I was the first person home. As I pulled my car up into our driveway I noticed the glass on our side door had been broken, the door left ajar. Me, being the aggressive idiot that I can be, walked in and immediately started stomping through the house. With my free hand, I pushed open doors, shouting things like "WHO IS IN MY HOUSE?" at the top of my lungs. I was not fearful, I was filled with intense rage. Somehow, in all the red haze, I thought "Hm, I should probably call someone." So I called Amy.

"Hi, Amy. I think someone broke into my house."
"Ok, where are you right now?"
"I'm in my house! If those assholes are still here.."
"Alex, you need to leave your house right now."

It was like someone dumped a bucket of ice water over my heard. The potential danger of the situation came spilling down on top of me. I went from shouting angrily, to crying.

Amy met me at my house and did the police walk through with me. She took me and my roommates in for the evening, insisting that we needed somewhere safe to sleep for the night. Two weeks later when the landlord still hadn't repaired our broken door she got incensed and threatened to call some lawyer friend to deal with things. She took care of me.

Amy died only a few months ago, so I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise, but I have dreams about her every once and while. They all really good dreams. In the last one, she was asking me how Andy and Maggie and Sam were doing. I told her Maggie was at Northwestern, Sam was playing football and that Andy was taking things one day at a time. She was happy and I was happy. But I will be honest, when I woke up I wasn't happy at all. I miss her so much and these dreams just remind me how great she was. I think someday I will treasure these little surreal moments in my sleep but right now I resent them. Because I shouldn't have to dream about talking to Amy, I should just be able to talk to Amy. I want her to meet my boyfriend. I want to send her dumb pictures of my cat that we can coo about. I want her to hear me preach. I have always imagined her, with Andy, Maggie and Sam, at all the milestones in my life. Whether it is being ordained, or getting married, or bringing my kids to New Orleans for the first time, she was going to be there. Except now she's not.

The morning of her heart attack I talked to Amy for about twenty minutes. Andy had a serious health diagnosis a few days before, so I was calling to check in and see how she was holding up. At the end of our conversation, I told her I loved her and I promised I would do everything I could for her and her family. She said that she knew I would and that she loved me too.

This mourning thing is hard. Some days are easier than others. Some days I feel bad for feeling so sad. Amy was important in my life, but I can't begin to image what Andy and Sam and Maggie go through every day. There are other days where I don't think twice about Amy. Then there are nights like tonight where, for whatever reason, I just sit and cry for a little while.

Amy was one of my favorite people. She always will be.


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