KD Battled The Pink Robots

It’s been five days since I found out one of my dearest friends, KD Flaharty, lost her battle to breast cancer. Heartbroken doesn’t even begin to cover it. Heart-disintegrated is more like it: a slow, burning fizzle that seems endless, like dropping Alka-Seltzer into water, except when the fizzing stops, someone karate chops you in the sternum. For someone who has always had a strong sense of personal direction, I feel incredibly lost, my compass demagnetized.

“You need to process. Take some time.” Everyone keeps saying these words and it feels like the verbal equivalent of someone handing me a cross-stitched pillow or that fucking motivational poster with the cat hanging from the tree. What I need is closure. What I need is a real fucking goodbye. What I need is my friend back.

This all sounds incredibly angry. I mean, yeah, I am fucking angry. I’m angry at Cancer. I’m angry for not having a lifestyle conducive to visiting her more. I’m angry for thinking about calling her just a little too late. I’m angry at Time. When I stop and think about it, KD would punk me so hard for being upset about all of the things out of my control and tell me to let it go.

That’s when I become incredibly sad. She’s not around to shake me into being a greater version of myself anymore.

We met in 2005 when we both were hired as waitresses at a West L.A. ramen house/sake bar. We drowned ourselves in bowls of noodles, Kikusui shots, and late night chats about our doomed of-the-moment crushes. It was one of the happiest times of my entire life. When I got into University of Hawai`i, I was happy but also I felt so sad because L.A. had been a difficult experience for me, up until my ramen slangin’ days. KD just smiled and said, “I’m going to visit you DUH it’s Hawai`i and it’s you!” Her positivity was infectious.

She got me through the entirety of my twenties, without actually physically being around for most of them. Knowing that she existed, a phone call away, made the shitty, second puberty of my late twenties bearable. If she could handle round after round of chemo, I could handle a breakup or having $63 in my savings account. Another thing I’m angry about: feeling as if I took this all, and her time, for granted.

Even pre-cancer, KD was light. No, really. The girl was made out of light. I have no other possible explanation for it. She was not human. I’ve never known anyone who has touched so many people and things so effortlessly, so seamlessly with her own, without compromising her own goals or livelihood. Scratch that: touching lives was her livelihood. She makes everyone else on their most generous days look like a total Scrooge.

(I have to point out that while typing that last sentence, I wrote “she makes”, changed it to “made”… and then promptly changed it back to “makes”. Because even after her physical time on the planet, KD still punks everyone in the kindness department.)

I was driving to work yesterday and I heard her one of her favorite songs (“Against All Odds”), followed by one of her favorite artists (Rod Stewart — yes, this still makes me laugh) and KD was definitely there, all up in my commute, telling me to be remember the good parts when it seems like everything is a disaster.

Someday, I will bask in the afterglow of her legacy without sobbing uncontrollably. Today is not that day.

So, my beautiful friend, the illumination, these words are poor and can never shine as brightly as you: I fucking miss you and I always will. Thanks for creating such a safe, loving place for me and countless others. In my lifetime, no one was or will be stronger, kinder, or more courageous.

Rod said it best: “You’re in my heart, you’re in my soul.” I still think that song is cheesy as fuck and that you’re ridiculous for loving him so much, but you wouldn’t want me to think otherwise. You always wanted me to be Me. I’ll never be able to thank you enough for that, but I’ll spend the rest of my life trying.

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