I’m Matt Raidbard, Karen’s nephew.
Ever since I first found out that Karen was dying I have had thoughts running through my head on what I was going to say at this moment to properly immortalize her. While I am not articulate enough to express how much Karen meant to me personally I will try to do my best to do her justice in my remarks.
As is demonstrated by the group that has collected to say goodbye to her this morning it is obvious that Karen possessed the personality and charisma to fit in anywhere and engage anyone with her charm. As a result we all had a unique relationship with Karen since she related differently to all of us, but I would like to share the aspects of ours in remembrance of how special I considered Karen and our relationship.
Ever since I was little I affectionately called my Aunt Karen “Auntie.” Growing up I used to brag to all of my friends about my lesbian gun-toting Aunt who took me to nice restaurants, bought me trendy clothes and let me pretend to fire her guns. When I got older I realized how fortunate I was to have Karen looking out for me because when I needed it at times she acted as a mother-figure, while at others, due to our relative close proximity in age, she played the role of a protective older sister.
However no matter what hat she wore at the time I always knew that she was looking out for me. As a parental figure she gave me advice on how to be a better man by living up to my commitments and treating everyone with respect and dignity. As a friend and older sister she took me shopping, never let me even considering paying for a meal and even gave me advice on how to get women.
When I first found out that Karen was dying, and given only a short time to live, I didn’t know how to feel. The thought of losing someone so close to me when both of us were so young seemed impossible for me to grasp. Like many people who endure similar situations my first two questions were, “Why is Karen being taken from me so young?” Followed by, “How could someone so special, so unique, so wonderful be dying when there was so much more she had left to give?”
I continued to struggle with the answers to these questions during the subsequent weeks that Karen faded from us, and only began to achieve some semblance of clarity in the last few days following her passing. After receiving the news that Karen was gone I immediately began fixating on how it wasn’t fair that she was taken from us prematurely, however in time I was able to gain perspective on these feelings and gain much-needed guidance toward inner peace with losing her.
While at first I was fixated on the idea that Karen was taken from us too young and too soon, after further consideration I was able to see another reality behind this perception. In life it is commonly expressed that it is only in death that we truly come to appreciate all that someone has meant to us, and with Karen I believe that this is true. While she was alive I always revered her as an important person in my life, but it is only now that I don’t have her anymore when I am fully able to appreciate the scope of the impact she had, not only on me, but so many others.
From Karen’s death I have slowly been able to realize that while it is okay to feel pain and loss from losing someone close to me prematurely, I also need to consider the other meanings behind her death. Yes we lost Karen far too soon and she will always be missed by those she was important to, but what I have come to realize is that Karen’s dying young is also an affirmation.
To me Karen’s death was proof, proof that when it is said that the best people are often taken from us too soon that this is an adage worthy of its timelessness. So, even though Karen died at a young age, I continue to try to focus on the symbolism of that fact, which is that Karen was one of the best people and that is how I will always remember her.
Goodbye Auntie. I will always love you.