Friday, April 26, 2013

A Seattle Night

Seattle was clear and warm. The sunset on Elliot Bay a romantic etude - Olympic mountains a dark saw blade against a lavender sky, ferries slow moving castles, yellow lights glowing as they orbited the Sound.

I had dinner with Kaitlin's Aunt Kate last night. We had a drink, went for a walk, watched the sunset. We talked about children and family and love and loss and we laughed and visited that worn out room where sadness lives. Then we left.

We ended our visit at a Target. I, to buy soap, she a toaster. We hugged. Said goodbye.

It was a beautiful evening that should never have happened. I should never have met Kaitlin's aunt. The occasion of doing so marked by a reason terribly sad and wrong. The death of a child, a young woman who reminded so many people to fall in love with life.

Kaitlin's Aunt Kate has a new job. Just two weeks ago she began working for an organization trying to stop teen suicide. This is good work, I think. Important. Healing, even though Kaitlin's life ended not by suicide, but by its opposite. Exuberance. Joy. Helen Keller's, "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing," philosophy of existence.

Kate and I found out we grew up no more than 10 miles from one another. I worked minutes away from her town and community. She graduated from high school in 1976. Me, 1977. Our lives orbiting the way lives do until one day those orbits meet.

-Naseem Rakha 4/26/13

Monday, April 22, 2013

Outside Magazine - Kaitlin Kenney

Even while napping, Kaitlin was smiling.
Picture from Wild Rockies Field Institute
Outside Magazine, the "Live Bravely" publication, has just uploaded an article about Kaitlin Kenney entitled Lost in the Grand Canyon.

Which proves one thing to me: Kaitlin is still alive in the hearts of thousands of people who have read and shared her story, contacted her parents, attended her memorials, or simply sat in quiet contemplation of what it means to live a life well. In the moment, with a big, genuine, and generous heart.

Many of these people are like me - individuals who never had the honor to meet Kaitlin, but are still touched and inspired by the young woman who set off to spend a winter month in the bottom of the Grand Canyon. A musician, a conservationist, a backpacker and dancer. An inspiration to friends and family. Her life and untimely death speaks to that part of us that knows life is short, and should be grabbed with both hands and embraced. The raw and pure human urge to seek splender and wonder and beauty and knows we spend too much time clutching a steering wheel, or locked in a line, or embedded in some TV show not seeing, not feeling, not loving or even being.

Kaitlin, the memory of her, the song of her, the light of her—is alive. I read it in letters from people thanking me for writing about her. She has helped these people, so many of them strangers to her, re-think, re-evaluate, re-invent.

Kaitlin lived bravely—and inspires us all to do the same.

Links to essays about Kaitlin:
The Way We Die - Kaitlin Kenney - January 16, 2013
For the People Who Love Kaitlin Kenney - March 4, 2013
Remember To Live - April 4, 2013
This Porous World - April 8, 2013
If There are Angels - for the Oregonian - April 14, 2013
Lost in the Grand Canyon - Outside Magazine - April 19, 2013