I usually open up the “New Post” page with no idea what to write. That didn’t happen this morning. For the first time in several weeks, I knew exactly what I was going to write about. And that’s never a good sign.

After graduating, I worked for my city doing public relations work. I remember my first meeting with the City Clerk, Kathy Janeczek, who was one of the people I reported to in the beginning. Kathy, my direct supervisor Jillian and I spent most of the time joking around about how I was going to teach them the slang that people my age use and how to be more computer literate. I had an amazing few months working out of the Visitors Center office. It was wonderful to assist in coordinating events and promoting things going on in the city. Everyone in the office and up at City Hall was so excited for me after hearing about my new job in Korea. It was Kathy who suggested to the people at the Freeman that I be a Reader of the Week–both fun and embarrassing. We occasionally e-mailed this year, as she found what I was doing to be completely crazy and amazing at the same time. Her last e-mail to me was in April–she told me about what was going on at work and asked all Korea. She told me she was so proud of what I was doing, and that when I got back at the end of the year we’d go out with some former coworkers for margaritas.

It didn’t occurred to me that I might never get the chance to do that.

Anyone who knows me–even a little bit–knows that I procrastinate like crazy. It doesn’t matter what it is, it just takes me forever to do it. Until yesterday, in my drafts was a half-finished e-mail to Kathy–one that I started more than four months ago. With some extra free time during the day, I finished the e-mail and sent it off.

This morning, I woke up in a fit of wheezing (fall allergies are starting to get to me already) and checked my e-mail after getting some water. I had one new message in my inbox, sent from Kathy’s e-mail. Shocked that she got back to me so quickly, I clicked into it, and that’s when I realized that the e-mail wasn’t from Kathy, but someone else in the office. Kathy passed away yesterday after a battle with cancer. She never read the e-mail. She was 55 years old.

In a state of shock, I did what I’ve gotten much too accustomed to doing this year–I called my mother, who hadn’t even heard the news yet. She said she could only imagine how sad this was for me and that she’s sorry it had to happen while I was so far away. I’ve actually lost track of the number of times she’s said that this year.

The rest of my day is going to be a bit tougher than expected, and it’s only 7 a.m. In eight months, six friends and relatives have passed away. I’m starting to understand how old people feel. (Half-hearted joking, ha.) I know when I go home, Kingston will be a little bit different without Kathy. She was the one who gave me the best [paid] job I’ve ever had, who made sure I was settling in OK and who encouraged me to incorporate my writing skills into the work I did for the city.

Kathy, I know you’ll be looking down on all the folks at the Hooley this weekend. I’ll never forget everything you did for me and encouraged me to do for myself. You will be greatly missed by everyone who knew you.