Requiem for Carlye

It seems that I can’t get away from death lately. I broach the topic again with great reticence. After two articles this month I’m not sure that I have anything new or useful to say on the topic but I feel compelled because this one hit so close to home. I learned yesterday that Carlye Ketchum, a childhood friend passed away unexpectedly. She was another innocent victim of the voracious beast called cancer.

I felt sick when I read the news. It doesn’t fit with the way the world is supposed to work. When someone dies so young you expect to learn that it was a tragic accident, not a body ravaging illness.

Carlye and I grew up five houses apart. She’s a part of the group of people that I shared a childhood with. We were in the same neighborhood, same school, same classrooms, same teachers, etc. I’ve never been very good at keeping in touch so I lost track of her when I moved to Jacksonville for the 9th grade. I “found” her again on Facebook last year when she reached out to me to encourage me to keep writing and to let me know that she was reading.

A few weeks ago I got an invitation to come up to Atlanta to celebrate Carlye’s 35th Birthday Bash. I didn’t do it. I knew that it would be awkward meeting new people and to see others that I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. So I did a very “Jonathan” thing to do and stayed home instead. I regret it so much now. Who knew that it would be the last chance? Yesterday when I heard the news I had to double check my memory to make sure that I didn’t imagine the whole thing. I went to her Facebook page and scrolled down past all of the prayers and last respects…there it was, God, her birthday was only 11 days ago.

I scrolled up and found a short message posted on 10/24. She had been to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor and was requesting prayers because he had seen a “spot”. Four days later there is a post from someone else saying that she’s in the hospital. Two days after that there is an urgent prayer request saying that she is really struggling. Then I found the message from Monday the 1st of November that said she had passed away. Apparently she left with a joke about not wanting to be late for dinner in heaven.

I read all of this last night, stunned. I should have reached out more. I should have prayed more. I should have gone to the party! Lord, she’s only 35! I know it’s selfish to focus on myself, but it hurt. I’ll be turning 35 years old this Saturday. How can that be a full life? It doesn’t fit. At 35 I feel like I’m just getting started. I’ve finally emerged from my young life and have finally become the person that I always wanted to be.

Did she get to do that?? Did she feel fulfilled? Loved? I don’t know. But I should. What kind of friend am I that I wouldn’t ask those things and give her the chance to connect and share? 35 years old… It’s so wrong. It shows how wrong our thoughts are when we are children. 35 seemed ancient to me way back when. In reality 35 is a point at which we’ve barely escaped our own childhood and have started relating to the world as an adult.

I’m sorry; I don’t have anything profound to offer. I hurt for you Carlye. I hurt for your missed opportunities and for the things that you never experienced. I hurt for your family and friends. But through that hurt I praise God. He pursued you and saved you. I thank God that you were confident of your final destination in the end.

God bless you friend.


Posted on November 2, 2011, in Real Life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Chris Hollister

    Very touching J. You will have a chance to spend time with her one day. She will be happy to see her old friend.

  2. Dana Witherspoon

    I love your requiem and I love your writing. I did make it to the party, but your writing touched me deeply. Thank you.

  3. Thank you Dana, I’m so glad you stopped by.

  4. good to go John!

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