Opinion: Celebrating, mourning Kary

I am grateful for everyday Fred and I are allowed to spend on this mortal coil we call life. My memories of the past and the good things in life I am blessed with make me smile and sometimes make my heart ache. The inevitable aches and pains that come with six and a half decades just serve to remind me that only the dead feel no pain.


This week my thoughts turn to my late cousin Kary Kirk who has been gone since 1983. She and her sister, Lori Woody, were the closest things to little sisters I have. I really get tired of Kary being dead. Anyone who has lost someone they love can identify with my feelings.


She should have been 64 on Friday. We grew up very close. She attended the same local schools as I did, James Monroe Elementary, Thomas Jefferson Junior High and Madera High schools.


A beautiful girl with long blond hair and gorgeous eyelashes, she shined both inside and out. In grade school she was dynamite on roller skates. She went on to be head pep girl and homecoming queen candidate at MHS. She could light up a room with her smile and had a fun-loving mischievous streak.


I once remember seeing her and her girl friends dragging main when she was just 15 and only had a learner’s permit. When we stopped at a traffic light I told her through the open window that I wouldn’t rat her out to her parents but she and her friends probably needed to go home before the cops or someone else caught them.


I mourn all the years we should have had together. We should have celebrated her wedding, the birth of her children and what would now have been her impending retirement. Alas it was not in the cards for us. She adored kids and would have reveled in her niece Taylor Thompson’s exploits on ice skates and adored being a great-aunt to her three children.


Life can be cruel and losing her when she was just 23 was the hardest thing that ever happened to me and I have had some tragedies and deaths in my life. When I was young and we lost a family member like my beloved Grandma Lillie Mae Kirk, the self-absorbed part of me felt grateful that it hadn’t been Kary or Lori, because that would have been too much to bear. I guess a part of me must have always known her time on Earth would be all too brief.


She paid me a visit a few days before she died, it was a Thursday, a day I will never forget.


She just dropped in out of the blue and we spent the entire day together. This was a luxury we hadn’t shared often since we were kids, when we spent almost every weekend together. We talked, laughed and even cooked together on that glorious last visit.


I wish I’d know she had come to say goodbye as just a few days later she took her own life. Suicide takes an awful toll on a family as any one whose experienced that loss can tell you. I know she is in a better place where the demons she struggled with have finally been banished.


The loss of a family member this way was once such a family scandal, it was spoken about only behind closed doors if discussed at all. Mental health medications have come a long way since the days of just the Lithium and Thorazine prescribed to many patients.


Bi-polar, depression, anxiety and other conditions can be treated and the patient can live a near normal life as long as they take their medication. One of the reasons people quit taking their meds is because when they get to feeling better, they think they no longer need them. That is akin to someone prescribed antibiotics to treat an infection and then stopping treatment when the pain goes away. When patients don’t finish the regimen of medicines the infection just goes dormant and will return stronger and more painful than before.


Facebook is a great place to find the phone number for the suicide prevention help line. Memes with helpful solutions pop up most every day.


If you or anyone you know are contemplating exiting their pain through this avenue call toll-free 800-273-8255. The person is in so much pain they don’t seem to realize they are exercising a permanent solution on what may be just a temporary problem.


Long days and pleasant nights, have a blessed weekend.


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Readers may contact Tami Jo Nix by emailing tamijonix@gmail.com or following @TamiJoNix on Twitter.