For a Dancer

For a Dancer

Today, our Legally Mindful website launches. It’s a new business venture inspired by my late sister Kathy whose death 10 years ago today led me to more deeply and consistently practice meditation, which has become a passion of mine. You can learn more about My Story on our new website. But for now, allow me to share more about Kathy.

I like to tell people that we were born on the same trip around the sun. I followed her into the world 355 days after she made her grand entrance.

Being younger, but so close in age, I learned a lot from my sister Kathy, although we were, in my eyes, very different.

I was a shy boy with blond curls, and she had straight, dark hair and seemingly no fear. I tended to follow the rules, and Kathy thought rules were made to be broken. She married Rick three months after she graduated from high school and gave birth to her first child, Holly, about a year and a half later. Rick Jr. and Andrea followed. Kathy was married with three kids before I started law school. It’s as if she knew.

I don’t remember how old Kathy was when she started taking dance lessons, but I do recall how I hated having to attend her dance recitals year after year. Looking back, I think those dance lessons helped Kathy develop the grace and poise she carried with her as she got older.

Fittingly, Kathy stayed in Lima, where we grew up, and became a nurse. That allowed her to do what she loved – help other people. Other family members followed her into some part of the medical field. But not me; remember, we were different. I went to Cincinnati for college and then law school. Our older brother, Ron had already left Lima for Detroit, and our younger sister Nancy joined me in Cincinnati.

Because Kathy stayed in Lima and our parents moved to Arizona, we used Kathy’s and Rick’s house as our holiday gathering place. And they gladly served as baby sitters at other times. For her nieces and nephews, Aunt Kathy was like a grandmother. She always made holidays special. From the turkey catching fire in the oven that one year, to the way she made her house feel like our home away from home. Those are some cherished memories.

When Kathy was originally diagnosed with breast cancer, and when it came back with a vengeance, it was as if the dancer stumbled a bit. True to form, Kathy always regained her dancer’s drive and showed us her inner strength and dignity. I’ll never forget after seven years of remission, receiving that January 2008 phone call saying her cancer was back, had spread and it didn’t seem like they could do anything more.

Because I had moved away from Lima, I did not truly appreciate the impact Kathy had on so many lives. I was amazed by the outpouring of love and support she received in her last few months from friends, people she had helped in the hospital, and countless others she touched in some way through her church and charity work.

Kathy passed from this world 10 years ago, on April 20, 2008, at age 50. This weekend, my dear Holly and I, along with my sister Nancy, will celebrate Kathy’s life with Rick, their children and the grandkids Kathy never got to meet. There will be much laughter, plenty of crying, but mostly gratitude for the time we got to share with Kathy and the lessons learned from her.

In Kathy’s memory, I recall the last verse of Jackson Browne’s song, “For a Dancer.”

“Into a dancer you have grown,
From a seed somebody else has thrown,
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own,
And somewhere between the time you arrive
and the time you go,
May lie a reason you were alive,
But you’ll never know.”

Kathy threw a lot of seeds during her wonderful time here, and she will live on in many people’s hearts forever. In her life and in her death, she has inspired me in too many ways to count.

My pursuit of answers following her death led me to who I am today. Kathy’s presence has seemed to be with me at many points on this journey, helping nudge me along and boosting my feelings that I am on the right path. It’s taken me some time to get to a place where I can put myself out there with my own meditation exercises, because, remember, I was not as fearless as Kathy. But, I’m ready now.

I close this dedication to my big sister with a poem Kathy “gave” me during a meditation at the November 2013 Conscious Presence workshop.

“What is Love?”
It’s that feeling you have when you reconnect with loved ones,
and you feel the tears run down your cheek.
It’s that feeling you have when your kids return home.
It’s that feeling you have when you open yourself to a stranger.
It’s that feeling you have when judgment is gone.
It’s that feeling you have when you come Home to your Heart Space.
It’s that feeling you have when you get back to your Authentic Self.
It’s that feeling ….
that is YOU!!

And now it’s time for me to throw some seeds of my own.

Thank you, Kathy (as the tears roll down my cheek)!