Thursday, October 29, 2009


I don't want to live and die in Detroit.
I don't want to only write about cars.
I don't want to be lonely anymore.
I don't want to ever forget how amazing Nevada was.
I don't ever want to forget the lessons she taught me, even if it takes years for them all to sink in.
I don't want to be a writer who never writes or publishes her book.
I don't want my dad to drink himself to death.
I don't want to push my friends and family away.
I don't want them to get upset when I do.
I don't want to sleep alone every night.
I don't want to undo all my healthy habits.
I don't want to gain a bunch of weight.
I don't want to dread the gym.
I don't want to stop beleiving in god.
I don't want to be a perky sales clerk at Hallmark.
I don't want my current clothing size to make me feel less worthy.
I don't want to lose myself in my grief.
I don't want to rush through the grief process.
I don't want to go on any more bad dates.
I don't want to put skim milk in my coffee.
I don't want to gossip about people.
I don't want to be perfect.
I don't want to cry all the time.
I don't want to give up on hope.
I don't want to beleive things will turn around and be severely dissappointed.
I don't want to go to another meeting.
I don't want to fall during yoga.
I don't want to give you my heart, if you aren't going to keep it safe.
I don't want to wear a sweater dress.
I don't want to be judged for eating milk duds and bacon for breakfast.
I don't want to envy others.
I don't want to watch reality shows.
I don't want to feel guilty for calling in for a mental health day.
I don't want to hurt anyone.
I don't want to hurt myself.
I don't want to run a marathon.
I don't want to wear make up to work sometimes.
I don't want to eat food that comes "fresh" from a gas station.
I don't want to have credit card debt.
I don't want to ever stop eating chocolate.
I don't want to dress up for Halloween.
I don't want to depend on anyone.
I don't want to fake anything.
I don't want to engage in small talk.
I don't want to feel so utterly alone.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Goodbye to A Wonderful Woman

Nevada Memorial Speech

I met Nevada when I came to work at Wunderman, an ad agency in Dearborn. I was the newest digital copywriter. Nevada was the only other female writer, so I was excited to meet her.

I noticed she had the same magnet on her cube wall that I had at home and decided to tell her, figuring it was a good ice breaker.

Nevada looked over at me, and snarled a snarky comment. I remember thinking,

“That girl dosen’t like small talk. Don’t speak to her, until you have something to say.”

I don’t really remember when it all changed. All I know is once we started talking we never shut up. We’re both Gemini’s and very chatty.

We spent our lunch breaks shopping for fencing material, fabric or at TJ Maxx, trying on all the crazy hats.

She knew how to dress herself and her friends. Whenever we shopped together, she’d pick out stuff for me and I’d tell her that’s not going to fit or that’s not going to look good. She’d insist I try it on anyway and it was always perfect.

This past March we went to Chicago to visit our friend Rina, and the two of them shoved me in a dressing room and kept insisting that I try on different dresses. Even though I’m older than both of them, they treated me like their little sister and liked telling me what to do:

“You will go out and drink all night. You will take a nap. You will talk to men at the bar. And worst of all, you will go out dancing.”

But they did it with such love, I couldn’t get upset with them for looking after me and that’s what Nevada always did.

Nevada liked to talk a lot, although not on the phone as any of her friends will tell you.
I wore her down after a while though.

She would talk to me on the phone whenever I needed her. One night in particular, I was having an anxiety attack late at night and I called Nevada. She talked to me for over an hour, until I was totally calm and could fall asleep peacefully.

Besides, she knew better than to allow me to text her while driving, so she allowed me to call her often.

Nevada was a pied piper for us all. Just look around. At least 5 of her friends started getting our haircut at Red in Birmingham by Sara after Nevada’s hair looked so great.

Thanks, Sara. (shameless plug. Red is located on Old Woodward).

Nevada’s infectious joy at being in love was evident, no matter how much she pretended otherwise. I remember the first time she got flowers at work, from Trevor. Orchids.

The look on her face, and her smile was one of somebody completely smitten, and when I said,

“Looks like he’s going to be around a while,”

Nevada played coy saying, “I’m not sure yet.”

I said, “You can pretend all you want, but it’s pretty clear this guy has gotten to you.”

Only with time, would we all understand how true that was.

And because she was in love and I’m single she wanted me to meet somebody and
she took it upon herself to be my online dating pimp.

Nevada set up a profile for me on Craig’s list and screened all the respondents and only forwarded ones that she deemed worthy. She told me, “ I knew you’d give up with the first penis picture.”

She was right. J I didn’t do any better in person. This summer, I’d come home from a weekend up north with my friend Connie, explaining we’d gone out to the bar. I’d refused a drink from a cute guy across the bar, because I didn’t think he’d bought it for me.

Nevada didn’t hesitate to tell me, “ You’re just a total moron, when it comes to men and dating.” And yet, that’s how she showed she cared. She had a way of insulting you but making you feel very loved at the same time. She made me see myself in unexpected ways.

I had the most fun with her than I did with anybody else. We’d laugh so hard at the stupidest things. Her and Trevor used to host the best parties. One of my favorites, was at her house in Detroit, she’d named it, “A Wino and Cheese Party.” All guests were asked to bring cheap wine and any orange cheese product, like Cheetos or Cheese Whiz. A big group of us sat in her backyard drank and ate processed cheese, until the wee hours.

Another thing we did all the time was walk. Now, I suppose they started out, as an exercise in fitness, but what they ended up as were our walking therapy sessions. Nevada charted out new projects, or gifts for friends, and we talked about nothing. That was everything.

Often, we walked to either Bastone or Black Lotus and ended up with beer or pizza. I don’t think we ever lost much weight, but we sure had a good time.

I could tell her anything. My heart was always safe in her company and vice versa.
Nevada was never judgmental, but was gifted at asking pointed questions, so you’d draw your own conclusions.

The last time I saw Nevada, she was about to leave for California, and I’d told her I’d take her shopping to get out of the house.
She told me that was cool, because they’d be celebrating Trevor’s birthday out there and she needed to get his gift.

After I’d brought her back to Trevor’s, we found him on the porch, having a drink and smoking a cigar. Nevada sat down on the porch and typed out specific instructions for me on how to care for her plants, while she was gone.

As I got up to go home, I said something about flying safe and being careful.

In her typical Nevada way, she said, “ Wouldn’t that be ironic if I died in a plane crash on my way to get brain surgery?”

I laughed, and said, “I don’t really want you and Trevor to check out like, Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper, so if you could just come back that’d be great.”

She laughed.

And then I hugged her goodbye.

I had no idea it would be the last time.



We used to joke about living in the nursing home together.

You teased, I’d be saying hi to everyone and you’d be grumpy to all that walked by.

I’m going to keep saying hi.

Because I know somewhere you’re answering hello.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Not a good sign. Insomnia = 2 a.m. blog entry.

Ah well, let's go with it. While I wait to get sleepy. Or re sleepy. Wait, is that a word? Doesn't matter. I have an audience of 2 and they will forgive me. :)

Went out tonight with Nevada's friend Barb who flew here from Oklahoma for the Michigan Memorial, after previously flying to the Oklahoma service. She kicks the dirt off her boots in Texas, normally.

Anyway, What a great friend to Nevada. And knowing that but nothing else made me like her right away. Then we all got to talk and laugh and I liked her even more. Kim and Tom joined us and it was awesome. It has struck me this week, how quickly I've bonded to Nevada's friends, considering we're all strangers.

One could argue we are all grieving and share a bond. I won't argue with that logic, but I think it's bigger than that. Nevada was very picky about whom she'd consider a friend. Maybe that's why she was so famously grumpy to many. It kept away people she didn't have to time for and the rest of us, were lucky.

There hasn't been a single fight, or any drama of any kind. That's not an easy thing when you put together 9 or 10 women in the same room that really don't know one another. But Nevada knew how to pick us.

We've all been on the same page. When a bunch of us met over the weekend at Trevor's house to clean it and get it ready for his arrival home, we discussed the memorial and other things to be done. We were tripping over ourselves to do the shopping or whatever. One person got a new shower curtain, somebody else coordinated airport runs, somebody else picked up a Guest Book, and we decided as a group who could make what dish to stock Trevor's fridge upon his return.

When other friends who aren't in the immediate area yet, heard about our plans, offers of money to help buy supplies poured in. We collected it as a group and in the end we decided to donate it to the MoyaMoya foundation. Perhaps we all felt the least we could do for Trevor was buy him some comfort food, while he finds his way without his dear Nevada.

I've been humbled all week by the absolute generosity of strangers, who don't feel like strangers but rather people who've been there all along. I have a passing knowledge of most because Nev and I talked about our lives and the people in it, all day, every day. Whether it was during one of our walks, over text, IM or email.

And it was never gossipy chat. Because Nevada never did that. She didn't need to. She let you know to your face what she thought so you never had to wonder what was said later.

I feel good because after I came back from dinner, I worked on her speech for the memorial. I'll do some editing in the morning, but I think I conveyed what I wanted to say. I read it aloud a few times and choked up in all the same spots, so at least on Saturday, I'll know when it's time to get my Kleenex.

I'll post it here after the Memorial for my two fellow blog readers. (Thanks 4th Street and Lacy).

These bonds are forming fast. Nevada would have liked that. She wasn't one for small talk and somehow when you're all gathering because of death, it's kind of silly to start conversations with, "Boy it's cold."

Our collective grief is comforting and heart breaking, as we come together to honor the life of a girl so brave and protective of others, that even in her death she gave all she had to others in her desire to be an organ donor.

Who ever has her heart, has all of ours too.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Thoughts from Nevada and Winnie the Pooh

Even when Nevada suffered many strokes and her passion, writing became difficult, she was still keeping a journal, which is a testament to her strength, passion, and love.

From Nevada's notebook 9-6-09

Friends. Make me feel sane and loved. Even on days I feel insane, unloveable, and downright unsmart. Bu I have to trust that because these quality people love me and care what happens to me that maybe I did turn out after all and that is a good thing. Sometimes life seems hard, but I can make it through with family and friends. Sometimes I seem frustrated or distant, but deep down I love them and care. Hopefully I do. Talbot and Michelle coming to Detroit this weekend meant a lot to me. And that gesture extends beyond them. It was an exclamation point on the travel, care and takers of friendship and love extended to everyone.
I am grateful.
I hope my gratefullness shows.
I hope they all take hugs and friendship as repayment... which i know they will.
I am glad I picked these friends.
I will try to write more tomorrow- its just too hard right now.

Night before the 1st Moyamoya surgery. This week has been full of tests since we arrived last Tuesday. Met Dr. Steinburg yesterday, he seems nice and knowledgeable. I'm in good hands. Remind me of that at 5 a.m when I'm in a full-fledged panic. Marna gave me a notebook from Aunt Tammie & Uncle Ron w/ notes from people at the Hitchcock church. Made me cry. Never have I felt so loved. By my family, friends, & people I don't know. Surgery is at 7:30 am tomorrow. Due at the hospital at 4:45 am. Time to sleep.

"If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart,... I'll always be with you." - Winnie the Pooh

I'll Fly Away

Lyrics by Allisun Kraus

Some glad morning when this life is o'er,
I'll fly away;
To a home on God's celestial shore,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away).

I'll fly away, Oh Glory
I'll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away).

When the shadows of this life have gone,
I'll fly away;
Like a bird from prison bars has flown,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away)

I'll fly away, Oh Glory
I'll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away).

Just a few more weary days and then,
I'll fly away;
To a land where joy shall never end,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away)

I'll fly away, Oh Glory
I'll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away).

Monday, October 05, 2009


My day started at 5 a.m.
I couldn't sleep. Had a good cry for a while and then a nap.
Pulled out my copy of Nevada's book yesterday and read the inscription she'd written for me.

Book is called, "Waiting for the Sunrise."

Nevada had written, "Kelly, each new sunrise is a chance to finish your book."

I know I'm going to have to put all my grief somewhere useful, and I'll start here and transition into something at a later date. I'm remembering all over again, how writing soothes me and it's a passion Nevada and I share.

At home today, I continued to search for tangible things that I can hold onto and she is all over my house. We hung out many a night drinking a few beers after our walks and I cooked her plenty of dinners, when we decided we were too broke to go out.

Looking at my bookshelves, I recognized a writing book she'd given me a couple birthdays ago. I opened it just now to a page that simply reads, "Safe."

Which means several things to me. One, I know it means she is safe, wherever she is wandering right now... probably stirring up trouble or telling a story to a captive audience.

Safe in the very literal sense of the word. Last year my dear godfather and uncle Joe passed away, and as a result I struggled immensely with anxiety. And it's not something you can easily share with others. If you think you're cracking up, you want to hide it. One night though, I found myself alone in my house and so very scared and I didn't know what to do, so I called Nevada.

The girl who didn't like to talk on the phone talked to me for a over an hour, defecting all my arguments.
Me:" But I lost my spare key outside."

Her: Is anything missing?

Me: No.

Her: So you just think somebody comes in when you're at work, watches tv and then quietly leaves before you get home?"

Me: Laughing. Well, when you put it like that... no.

She soothed me so by the time I hung up I was snuggled up on the sofa fast asleep.

But safe is the way I always felt with her. She was so strong and protective of me. Even though I'm older than her, she was always watching out for me. Whether it was making sure I'd drank enough water after we'd gone out, or she'd just gone head to head with a giant dude who tried to grab my butt while we were out dancing.

I'm not kidding. He was way bigger than her and she pushed him away from me, before I even knew he was there and told him to leave me alone. He wasn't backing down and neither was she.

He finally moved on and then she marched over to the group of guys he was with to tell them, "Your friend is an asshole." They all apologized. Later we found out, they didn't know the guy either.

But Nevada had a way of making even grown men tremble. And I certainly felt emotionally safe to share anything. And I do mean anything. I'm realizing just how many things she knew about me that even friends I've known for 20 years didn't know.

Because my heart was safe from scorn with her. And I was safe being myself. She didn't want me to be anyone else.

Now, don't get me wrong. When she thought I was being stupid, she'd say, " Don't be an idiot." Or stop acting like a moron... but she never made you feel stupid. It always ended up making me laugh.

She helped me see myself in unexpected ways. I hope I did the same for her.

Nevada please know, everyone that loves you and especially Trevor will keep you safe in our hearts forever.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Wild Haired Oklahoma Girl

I have lost one of my very best friends and while I can hardly believe my beautiful soulful friend Nevada, isn't just a text message away anymore, I find myself searching for tangible things to hold onto.

I know over the next few months, hell even years, I'll talk of her and laugh about the things we've done and I'll share that here.
But for now, I'll simply post one of her blog entries. It sums her up pretty well.

Love to you, Nevada.

Below is her blog entry.

I vow to do the work. It's all I can do until the chance is given to begin my toils. And it is a work I will be happy in doing. I know the road is often long and hard, but any travel, no matter how difficult, is worth it if your companion is good.

So here's my promises:

I promise to...
Open my mind and let important people in.
Open my heart to the same.
Let down my walls in order to achieve true understanding.
Stand up for myself if need be.
Pursue outside interests on my own.
Encourage the pursuit of outside interests in the lives of those I love.
Collaborate and cultivate joint interests.
Step outside my comfort zone on my own.
Allow others to help me step outside of my comfort zones.
Communicate nearly obsessively to understand and be understood.
Argue, debate, discuss, but never put down or hurt intentionally.
Dance, laugh, sing, walk, travel and generally enjoy the life I have and the life I am capable of having.
Remember friends both old and new.
Meet new people.
Be silly, have fun, find my inner child and give her a huge hug.
Better myself in my career, in my finances, in my home, in my life, in my relations.
Let go of fear.
Strive for and respect individuality.
Be a little more selfish and a little less shy.
Remember to bend so I don't have to break.
Expect more and strive for more.
Try new things and never let the ruts of comfort get too deep.
Offer unending, unconditional friendship.
Believe in the future and never lose sight of the next beautiful moment because I'm focused on the end of the journey.

And most importantly, LOVE deeply, sincerely, justly, and unconditionally.