Even at the grave we make our song


  We were roommates all four years of college, a brilliant stroke of computer randomness that produced best friends from an unlikely pair, despite our shared first name. We loved impersonating each other on the phone when the caller asked for 'C/Katherine', since no one who actually knew either of us would ever call us by our given name.

We were, on the surface, not much alike at all. She was a perfect Alex P. Keaton Republican who wore suits (heels! hose!) while she studied economics. I was a nerdy hippie who never cut my hair and once got kicked out of French class for not wearing shoes. But underneath, we were soul sisters. We both, in our own ways, were intent on changing the world. We loved to argue, and argue, about how our different ideas clashed and where they came together. We shared a deep commitment to our faith. And we loved to have fun. We had so much fun.

We shared an inordinate (and often unfortunate) affinity for cheap champagne. We chased a lot of boys. (Oh, so many boys!) We laughed and we laughed. She would wake me in the middle of the night because she laughed so much in her sleep. I told her she was either a lunatic or the happiest person I had ever met.

We were so much alike, in so many ways. Except she was a thousand times smarter, kinder and more beautiful than me. Some people light up a room; Kitty Powell was one of those people who could light up a city block. Everyone who met her was glad they did. Even though I am at least a millionth in line, I am still so grateful to say she was someone important to me.

She was as West coast as I was East coast, and so after graduation, we each settled near our natural shores, and saw each other only rarely. But always, always, the bond was there. We were forever friends.

When she called to tell me that she had cancer, of course I was concerned. But I was also sure that anyone with the powerful spirit of life that Kitty possessed would surely recover from this. I was wrong. How easy it is to forget that disease cares not how brilliant you are or how many people love you. She died one year ago today.

If there is a God, why do we suffer? It is probably the most basic and important theological question there is. I don't know, of course. But I do believe. I believe in a God who allows us to truly love, which means God allows us to truly not love. And that because of this, there is sin in the world - individual and corporate, specific and general. And because of this there is death. And because of this, Jesus died and was raised from the dead in order to promise us forgiveness of sins and that someday we will all see the end of death. In the meantime, we live in the promise of the resurrection of us all. I really do believe this, and I know that Kitty did, too.

I believe it. But I don't have to like it. In fact, I don't like it one bit on this day.