Essay: Kathleen

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Norman Prady
By Norman Prady

She was the girl I studied in high school.

In every class we had together, I’d look at her and wonder how it would be to have hamburgers with her at Art’s Tuxedo Junction. Sharing an order of fries. Dipping into ketchup. Marveling that I was with such a grand person.

What it would be like to hold her hand while seeing a movie at the Avalon.

I wanted so much to call her for a date. But I somehow didn’t feel worthy of her. I’d look at her. Never spoke to her. Just studied her.

Time clicked on. Plans being made for the 65-year reunion of our graduating classes. I wrote a story for the Jewish News naming people I remembered from Central High. She was on the list. Kathleen Klein. Later, Kathleen Kanners.

At the party, she sought me out and came to say hello. Her voice was soft and warm. Her smile reassuring. I still didn’t feel worthy. But I stumbled out, “Maybe we could have lunch one day.”

We had lunch one day a number of days. We had dinner together.

She said she’d like to read one of the books I’ve written. I gave her one. I inscribed it “To Kathleen, the girl I studied in high school.”

We talked on the phone often. Even then I could feel the warmth of her voice.

She became ill.

The surgeon said he fixed the problem. Now she had to rest and one day before long she could go home.

I reached over the railing of her hospital bed and held her hand. I kissed her fingertips. We talked about the things people talk about 65 years after they graduate from high school. Much about continuing the friendship we’d come to 65 years after we graduated.

She went home. Briefly. New pain. Back to the hospital. Never again back home.

I hear that a stage of grief is anger. I’m angry that so compellingly wonderful a person was denied more life. I’m angry that the connection we’d finally made after 65 years was so cruelly severed.

I’m doing all I can to manage my grief.

It’s very difficult.

She was the girl I studied in high school.

Norman Prady of Berkley is a writer whose work has been published at several Detroit dailies, Hour Detroit magazine, Crain’s Detroit Business, the Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times Syndicate, among others. His novels and story collections are available on Amazon.

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