Two days ago I thought about writing a post about Katy, then this morning Facebook reminded me of this photo I posted of my younger brother and Andrew. I don’t always follow Facebook’s lead, but this time I had no choice.
The summer before fourth grade we moved – not just to a new church and a new house, but also to a new school district. Thankfully, this was the only time we had to change schools due to a new appointment for my parents. My new teacher was Mrs. Moorman – unfortunate, considering my last name was Moman. Kids can always find a way to tease and this one was just put right into their grubby little hands. Names aside, one of the best things to have happen to me took place in this classroom. I met Katy. She was one of my first friends in this new school – like most things in life, I had no idea how much this first “hello” would impact me.
Katy and I became good friends right away. I remember going to her birthday party at the roller skating rink that spring – her mom came to school and picked all of us up, which was a real treat because riding the bus was not something I ever looked forward to. I spent the night at Katy’s often, and she at mine. I remember making up a dance to Paula Abdul’s Opposites Attract on her deck and creating a walking trail through her backyard. Her grandma (who no one called grandma!) was a fashionista, so we always had fun dress up clothes and make up to play with. Her room was covered in sunflowers – a flower perfect for her.
Katy went with my family on spring break our senior year. The place we stayed has some suspicious elements – ones I don’t now recall – but we quickly made up a story about it being run by the Greek Mafia – two things we knew absolutely nothing about. My younger brother, Andrew, and his friend Jason were on this trip as well. The four of us had to share a room – one bed and one sofa bed. To be fair, as Katy and I often were, we agreed to swap beds every other night so that one night we’d have the regular bed and the next we’d be in the sofa bed. Little did we know when we agreed to his arrangement that Jason would not be wearing shoes for the majority of this trip. Each night we’d brush out all the sand and dirt before getting into bed!
Our friendship wasn’t perfect by any means. We had times when we weren’t as close. Times with other friendships were stronger. However, we had set the foundation early on and even when our friendship faded occasionally, it was easy to get back to when the time came. I’m sure there were arguments or disagreements – thankfully I can’t remember them because if I did I imagine it would be embarrassing to recall. Such is the middle school and high school drama that we’ve all encountered.
In March of 2005 Katy called me. Brain tumor. That’s all I heard. Unlike other heart stopping calls I’ve received (and thankfully that’s not many), I don’t remember where I was when I got the call. Maybe I was house sitting? I do remember that I had to make a choice – keep my commitment to these people I hardly knew or get to Katy. Somehow, with details I don’t recall, I broke the commitment and got to Katy.
Together with our other friend Katie, we made plans to arrive in Phoenix the day before Katy’s birthday, the day before her brain surgery. It all felt unreal. To be honest, it still feels unreal. Her birthday is April 6, but that year, we celebrated her birthday a day early. In the courtyard of the hospital she was surrounded by her friends and family – by the children and parents she supported through Head Start, by coworkers, by college friends, by all of us. There was even a mariachi band – I think some of the other patients were a little jealous 😉 The following day she had brain surgery to remove the growing tumors.
Because one of her good friends was a nurse, we were allowed to come into the recovery room briefly and see her. There were maybe 10 to 15 of us – we just walked through quickly to say hello. As each person passed by she said our name – Hi Katie, Hi Anne. Later in the day, Katie and I got permission to go to her room to spend a little time with her before we had to leave. We each sat on either side of her bed. With her head bandaged, she asked Katie about her kids and me about who I was dating. She didn’t complain, instead she celebrated our presence. She wanted to hear our voices, hear about our lives. That moment captures the essence of Katy.
At the end of our senior year of high school, Katy wrote me a letter. I treasured it then, but didn’t realize the importance of what she wrote until later. So, I stuffed it in a yearbook giving it little thought. In January 2006 I remembered that letter and hunted it down. I needed something tangible, something I could hold that Katy had touched. I needed to be reminded of Katy’s presence in my life because her body was now gone. In this letter she was processing what it meant for us to have gotten so close our senior year and then having to let each other go as we moved to new schools that fall. Here’s a part of what she wrote: “As much as it hurts me to part from you I know that God is going to continue to use you in amazing ways to change lives and expand His kingdom. I can let you going knowing that though we may not be together on this earth always we will spend eternity together worshipping our God!” She was 18 years old when she wrote this. I had no idea how much these words would mean to me just 9 years later.
Katy wasn’t perfect, I’m sure she had her flaws. We just didn’t get to be friends long enough for me to discover them. I will never forget her saying to me, “Anne Marie don’t flare your nose at me!” I will never forget her beautiful smile and her gentle hands. I will never forget her laughter or the way she crossed her T before making the T. There is so much I would tell her if I could call her today. But I can’t, so I will remember her and be comforted in knowing we had 18 beautiful, imperfect years together.