*Brandie Kajino, my friend, passed away November 1st, 2016 of Pancreatic Cancer. I wrote this while she was in hospice but was never able to post it, I was simply too scared to let the insides out. Brandie, I love you and will never forget our kooky friendship, pretty sure you are sitting right here with me now, fixing my typos…..*
“It’s Brandie with an EYE-EE, not a Y, but people make that mistake all the time……” Is how we met. She was straight up telling me to fix my press release and I had never even met her. We met in my studio a few weeks later, and it was magic. We shared a clear view of the world, no nonsense, and funny. We were not “spring chickens” and we both loved to eat food. We REALLY loved food. We were instantly IM/DM friends, ending most days talking shop online and dreaming up new ventures, talking about what we ate, what we hoped for our futures and what was annoying that day. Brandie and I just fit.
I am no stranger to loss. I have experienced it on a high level, low level, human, animal, and love. I know about losing 15 pounds in a month after heartbreak. I know how it feels to lose my grandparents, my father and beloved animals. All loss feels different, but right now I am desolate and confused.
It is even worse after I had kids because I somehow put every loss in an equation that inserts me into them. If I lose something I think how my kids will feel when it happens to them, or how my grief will affect them, or if the loss will be something they will understand and should I talk to them about it. When you become a parent this happens I guess. I don’t know. I am very confused.
My friend is dying.
She is the light that I didn’t know I needed. The voice on the other end of chat after my then- infants went to bed, the person who talked me into going in front of a camera instead of staying inside of a radio studio. She made me believe that my opinion mattered. She helped me build my confidence and find my voice in many ways.
When someone is sick, and it is a slow closure with bursts of hope, sprinkled with devastating lows, you feel as if you are always walking along the edge of a canyon. You have your balance, but it is inevitable that at one point the wind will whip up, and you will fall. The bottom of the canyon is filled with loss.
Another strange part of the equation, is that I am the friend. Not the husband, not the child, not the mother. I am struggling with how to insert myself, or not. There is no right answer. All I know is that I feel inadequate, and over-lucky to be walking around with my health and my life moving along, moving forward, while she is losing grasp of hers.
All I can think about is her, in her kitchen, shiny, lustrous, long chestnut curls and rosy cheeks, baking up food, teaching us about berries, showing us that healthy food is easy, just slow down and learn. Her, with the the roundest, highest cheekbones and the biggest eyes. No nonsense, kind, mothering, warmth at all times. Writer, friend, humorist, wife, daughter, mother. Oh God, she is a Mother.
So here is where it wraps around me: A woman with a son still in school is dying. The thought is like being rolled up into a hot, wool carpet. I cannot breathe, I cannot move. I am without breath because she is my friend and the world has turned on her. Nature turned on her, and she does not deserve it.
I can give you a list of 10 reasons, without even thinking, right off the top of my head why she needs to be on this planet longer, why the world needs her, why the level of wrong and unfair that is going on inside of her body is incomprehensible.
You get to be on this planet for a blip of time. Jump on the horse, ride it bareback down the beach and don’t look back. Try to clean a few messes up that were here when you got here, and leave a small legacy of hope for the future. Don’t waste time on people who do not deserve that time because my friends, nothing is guaranteed.
I am lucky. I have a legacy of filmed conversations with Brandie that I will keep up on YouTube and on our Facebook page. We laughed, we made fun of ourselves and together tried to show the world that we were okay with just being us. We are enough.
I love you Brandie. Thank you for teaching me that it is okay to be me. I am enough.