A lot has happened in the 6ish weeks since my last post. Yes, I am now married. Yes, I went on a beautiful honeymoon on Martha's Vineyard. Finally, yes, I crashed my motorcycle and broke my collar bone. But right now I want to post about something else. Something I should have posted weeks ago and I'll just have to get back to those other topics.
I want to talk about Karen (Cosmic) Murray. The day after Karen passed I just happened to look at Facebook and Cynthia Corral had posted that Karen had died the night before.
I am sad and upset that I didn't know this before, so I just want to make sure you all know, in case you knew her, that CosmicCrayola passed away yesterday. I don't know any details other than she has been ill, so I wrote a small entry in the blog with links to a lot of the information...
I was shocked. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve gone through Rhode Island and thought to call her and visit. But by the time we got to RI it was late/raining/ or some other miserable excuse, like just wanting to get home. In retrospect I really should have known better and stopped to visit.
BTW if you didn’t know she FINALLY got her request for just plain Cosmic at http://cosmic.diaryland.com after about a year of asking.
I first met Karen online through the Over 40 Diaryland Ring, a ring that she created and ran. I met a lot of people through that ring. It was the year 2002 (if I recall rightly) Karen was looking at a double mastectomy. I was going through a very emotional and hard time with a divorce. My husband of almost 30 years was just up and leaving, like he had thrown the love switch “off” and then turned it “on” with another woman. It was very hard for me to realize that I could invest my whole youth and half my middle age caring for him and our children and it counted for nothing and that someone who was a very recent nothing, suddenly had everything I’d earned. I had to start dating again past 50 years old, bald from chemo and an overweight smoker. Who the hell would want that person?
Karen comforted me even after many people were sick of my continuous hope when all hope had sailed, if you were sane enough to see it, and then I realized Karen was going through some problems of her own. She started the “no boobs tube top collection” and asked people to send her tube tops. Karen was always brave and as funny as she could be without being insensitive. She didn’t want pity but she did want people to share this experience with her. I can’t remember a mean spirited thing that ever crossed her lips about anyone but she poked fun at herself and her husband with glee.
I once overheard by phone that she insulted Terry by saying something in a swift exchange of comebacks that ended with Karen saying, “Shut up! You have no legs” and he retorted, Oh Yeah? Well you have no boobs!” which struck us all as so unexpected and funny that we all broke down laughing right then over the phone.
Speaking of the phone, the minute I posted that I was diagnosed with breast cancer, she contacted me by phone. She explained what she had gone through and asked about me. We had two different breast cancers but she supported me and helped me as much as she could during that period in 2002. We became very fast friends.
One day a couple years later after all my chemo and surgery was done and her second operation to “clean up” the bumpy scar she had from the double mastectomy was completed I got a different kind of call. Karen calls me up and wants to know if I’d share a room with her at Journal Con 2004 in DC. She was almost apologizing for being a little slow walking (she had some breathing problems even back then) and I said, “I don’t care about that! Sh*t Yeah! Let’s do it! Karen it’s you. I don’t care about that stuff and I’ll stay with you, don’t you worry, it’s a privilege to meet you in person.”
So we went and had a blast. She put her debit card right next to the room card and the damned thing was so magnetized that it wiped out her debit card. Oh No! I gave her some money and someone else gave her some money to get home on the train. I’m sorry but I forget who that was. But Karen didn’t go without while she was there. She also took a picture of me asleep with my hoodie on and drooling on the pillow and she POSTED it! Yikes. She’s the devil when it comes to mischief and pranks and I’m pretty naïve sometimes. I think I stepped right into any mischief she ever thought up but it was never hurtful, it was laugh out loud funny and she knew the difference.
We had so much fun that when we were invited to Diarist Tour in May 2005 we went for it immediately as roomies again. It was all the Northeastern Diaryland members. We met in New Haven and we both met Harriet (http://l-empress.liscious.net/) and her daughter Sondra (http://www.golfwidow.net/), and http://thepurplechai.blogspot.com (my gosh I just can’t think of her real name at the present. I think I called her Purple Chai, which is wrong, but I like it.) and www.suburbanisland.us who seems to have moved or not posted in a long time and and http://spritopias.typepad.com/diary/ and finally a really sweet kid getting married soon after was Mary (http://www.facebook.com/maryjmoore). If I left someone out forgive me because a friend of Golf Widow’s was there and Spiritopias’s sister was there too. Anyways we had a blast there too. And it was my first Ikea and I stuffed my car with furniture. Karen made us all buttons representing our web sites. It’s still on my refrigerator. We had a great lunch with everyone there and boy, did we talk. We talked and talked and talked. I loved going there and being so comfortable with Karen there.
Eventually we both passed on Journal Con in San Francisco because of expenses and I think Karen wasn’t thrilled with flying, but the Javelina Hunt last year sounded like FUN. I called Karen who was on oxygen in 2008. I told her that I would sit with her and help her on and off the plane. She said, “Getting the oxygen for the plane and forwarding some to the room is too complicated”. I said, “It will be so much fun with all these great women going and hosting us”. Karen said, “I won’t be able to go anywhere. It’s too hard to move me and too exhausting”. I talked of cabs but it didn't help. I tried everything I could to get her to go. I wanted to be absolutely sure that she wasn’t staying home because she’d feel like a burden to others. She was sensitive to that. But she really, really didn’t want to travel and so I let it go. Eventually, without her I didn’t want to go either and it was an expense I didn’t want to have without the fun of Karen.
Those were the last plans I tried to make with her. She left me phone messages “just to chat, no emergency” that I didn’t return because I was “busy” and I was, but not that busy. I thought of surprise visiting her on our way back from the Smithsonian with our granddaughter in March but it rained the whole way back and my granddaughter was missing her parents and siblings. I should have called but I truly never expected her to die. She wasn’t much older than me, a few years, that’s all. I never expected it. I thought I had years more to talk with her. A girlfriend recently moved to RI so I thought I could drive by and visit both. She was on my mind a lot and I should have taken the hints God was dropping on me like a hammer to my head.
As for her book, which I bought, I had read much of it already in her NaNoWriMo project the year before. It was fantastic then and it’s fantastic now. I don’t think she ever felt secure and safe until she met Terri. I guess a terrific lady needs a terrific man and Terri was on her mind every day. She had a precious gift in Terri. She had real love with a soul mate. Lots of people never get that and they deserved it.
Courtesy of Jenn (http://www.facebook.com/jennnovesky) here is a picture of Karen and me (when we were both skinnier) at Journal Con 2004. Jenn took the picture and I think we were going for the fingers at the top of the building effect. It was a gorgeous day. One I will always remember as a happy day with Karen.
Karen I miss you so much. You were a bright light in my life at two of my darkest times.