Our dear friend Karen passed gracefully this week after a short battle with cancer. She was 59 years old, and damn, did we ever have some good times over the years! Karen was my oldest friend that wasn't invited to our wedding, because she and Nick had not quite started dating yet.
When I first knew her, I was hugely intimidated - she was whip-smart, opinionated and confident, which terrified me. Karen was fiercely intelligent, with a passion for argument and was not afraid to speak her mind (she and L got into some good discussions). Our men were and are best friends, so we were always hanging out together, but because I was very insecure at this point in my life, I kept her at arm's length - I liked her, but we weren't friends. That came later, and is my only regret: I wish we had been friends sooner.
I spent some time going through our pre-digital photos - actual photographs! - looking for all my pictures of her. I want to be able to share these and process my profound sadness at our loss, but also record some of the amazing times we had, and all of our wonderful friends. Forgive my indulgence; it's in the name of love.
Dates are subject to my admittedly erratic memory.
So! To set the stage, here we are in 1997. This is our Christmas party (L and I hosting) in December at our first apartment - I spy some Christmas decorations on top of the ginormous TV. L and I have been married since March, not even a year!
This is at Casey's divorce party, in the fall of 1997.
This is at my 30th birthday party, at L's and my apartment, in October 1997 - I can tell by the black crepe paper on the photo on the right. I threw a Funeral Party "for the death of my 20s" - we all wore black and it was quite fun.
Karen and I slowly bonded over being silly together. We were both game for any dress-up situation, as you can see here from Hallowe'en 1998. We are at an insane party at the Bay Street Armoury (we partied near actual tanks!), in the women's bathroom, which had water all over the floor and stank to high heavens. My costume soaked up a lot of that, but I was rather inebriated, so it didn't bother me overly.
L and I have now moved into our current condo - it's Christmas 1998, as I can tell by the silver icicles in my tree (this back when I used to own plants).
I love it when our friends make themselves at home.
|"Nicky, bring me that Premiere magazine."|
"And a glass of wine, your Indoors?"
I think this is at Kelly and Melanie's for New Year's Eve 1998.
Hallway shot, at the same party.
One of Janet's infamous parties at the big loft. Her parties were legendary, from the "Night at the Playboy Mansion" to the "House Swarming" of '98. This is from around 1999-2000, somewhere in there. I don't have a lot of pictures from this era, for some reason. I probably just never got around to buying film!
Same party, hanging out in the kitchen.
I think below is from L's birthday party in 2001, and oh my, that's our kitchen and wow, it's ugly! Note:
- Track lighting
- Original '70s cupboards (painted pale yellow) with original hardware
- Padded floral "tile" wallpaper
- I'm happy you can't see the sparkly "brick" linoleum and bright yellow counters
- It was like this when we bought our condo!
here (crank it and dance!). We played a lot of funk, mostly Parliament, that night. Andrew, Arnold and Karen in our galley kitchen. We call this the Gauntlet, as you have to go through the Kitchen Party crowd to get to the fridge.
Same party - this picture of Karen and Nick just makes me laugh. Oh, Nick, you are a scamp. Love those shades!
This is my birthday party in October 2001. The theme was Goth.
Same party - must have been a good one, judging from all the beer cans around.
One of many times we were at Swan's Pub on a Friday night.
Aw...I love this picture. This is at L's birthday party in 2002, I think.
I'm wearing a fake tattoo - this is many years before I got all inked up. I had red hair for a long time too!
Christmas party 2002 at our place (note the hideous green walls and wall-to-wall carpeting). I don't put my Christmas tree(s) up anymore due to Vizzini. I value all those beautiful ornaments too much to leave them with him for longer than a few minutes.
This is at L's birthday, in 2003, I think. Nick's getting grey on the sides there.
Same party, using a black and white disposable camera (remember those?). A few months ago, I found two CDs tucked into a box - when I checked, they had a bunch of pictures on them, and I remembered that when I got the photos developed, it included the CDs. Thinking I would never use them ("Why would I want digital pictures?"), I just set them aside. I'm so glad I kept them!
I think this is from our friend Chris' second wedding (to Tracy), back in 2003? This is at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel (the old one).
L, Karen and Steve at the October Birthday Party in 2004, for all of the many October babies we knew. L is doing another fez/smoking jaket outfit (with a shiny gold tie!), Karen is in a gorgeous halter-style flapper dress, and Steve (one of our people guys) is in his Team Canada hockey jersey.
(Not to mislead you: L and Karen loved each other dearly, but sometimes differed in opinions. I still will run from any conflict).
Chris (also an October baby), brought a literal October baby to the party: his third son, Owen. Karen looks dubious.
- Vintage (original to the building) pineapple chandelier
- Cat scratching post (we still have this - it's lasted through 3 cats)
- Another long-dead plant
- No curtains
When Karen and I finally clicked as friends, it was from our mutual deep vein of silliness. This is such a classic shot of us laughing our heads off. No offense, Chris, but neither of us were/are all that keen on babies.
|"And then the baby LOOKED at me!"|
I'm wearing a beaded cream sweater, a long black satin skirt and Nine West pumps (those were my dressing up shoes for years, back in the days when I only owned a few pairs of shoes!).
This is from one of our most memorable parties: the Lame Superhero Party, for L's birthday in 2004. Guests were requested to come as a superhero, and to come up with a name and silly ability - we gave our prizes for Best Lame Name and Best Lame Ability. I made all kinds of signs like that "Ka-Pow!" one and stuck them all over. It was hilarious.
Decor note: Yes, those are dragons on that shelf. L and I painted them.
For your amusement, here's me as The Full Minty.
Nick and Karen all gussied up - we met at St. Ann's Academy for our friend Zeb's wedding in 2005ish?
Another party in 2005-6, maybe? Goodness, that was maybe not the best choice of colours for repainting our kitchen, in hindsight. We renovated it again in 2007, thank goodness.
- Terra cotta walls
- Kraft Dinner yellow cupboards
- Malachite green counters
- Pineapple on the counter? That's a messy party snack.
Thank goodness Karen is classin' up the joint!
This is Christmas 2006, another houseful of our fabulous friends.
This is the evening of my big 40th birthday bash, in October 2007. Kelly's looking on while Karen peruses the very photo album that most of these pictures came from.
From our place, we all headed down to Swan's where I hosted a big gathering of our favourite people: family, friends, work colleagues. I'd just done the Victoria Marathon, a goal that I'd been working towards for over a year - the sign in the background is one that Casey held up to cheer me on.
After 2007, my life changed so much, all for the better. All of the fun women I'd been meeting and getting to know over the past year+ became a tight-knit group of friends (the Winesday Women). I started blogging in the spring of 2008, following the purchase of a digital camera. Going digital, I took far more pictures, and many more of our good times were recorded on on my blog (with dates!).
Well, there you go. I hope y'all enjoyed that - I'll be doing 1-2 more posts with pictures from the last 12+ years, later this week. Thanks for reading!
Karen and I were the same age, and now whenever I hear of the deaths of people who are my age, or younger, it grabs at my heart. My heartfelt sympathy to you and the rest of Karen's friends and family for their loss. This is a lovely pictoral tribute to your friendship.ReplyDelete
It's just so sad - far too young. Thank you so much, Shelley.Delete
We should all be so lucky as Karen to have a friend like you who is woven into the fabric of our life and then, when we are gone, remembers, celebrates and pays tribute to us.ReplyDelete
It has made me much more grateful for the friends I still have, Nana. Thank you.Delete
What a wonderful tribute to Karen, I loved seeing these photos and watching your friendship develop. She was a beautiful woman with a contagious smile and a killer figure. I can't wait to see more photos and learn more about you and your gang. xxxReplyDelete
She was the best - such a fun and vibrant woman. Thanks, Vix.Delete
Beautiful celebration of Karen's life, loves and capacity for friendship. A moment to reflect on our luck in life if we have friends to share the good and bad times. Hugs, Sheila xReplyDelete
I'm so glad I chose to do these posts, Juliana. Thank you - it's so good to look back and remember. Hugs to you.Delete
What a wonderful way to honour Karen. What a beautiful light she was, glorious even in photographs. Lots of love to you Sheila, you are a special person too XXXXXReplyDelete
Thank you so much.Delete
Good friends are the real treasures in life, rare too. You obviously know how to nurture meaningful friendships. LiseReplyDelete
Thank you, Lise. I have been so very fortunate to have such amazing friends.Delete
Karen sounds like she was a really amazing person and a wonderful friend. I love that you're helping me get to know who she was by sharing these pictures and stories.ReplyDelete
She really was, Krysten. I'm thankful that I'm able to share these pictures.Delete
I was hoping you'd do a tribute post like this. Thinking about our recently-departed friends, going through old photos and sharing our grief with remaining friends is hugely therapeutic. And we, your readers, love seeing pics from the past of both her and you. Thanks.ReplyDelete
I'm so glad you got to meet her, Ally. Doing these posts has been hugely helpful to me, in working through my grief. I'm grateful to be able to share this.Delete
Ah that’s a lovely post Sheila and a fine tribute to your much beloved friend KarenReplyDelete
It’s hard saying goodbye but you will find some comfort in those happy memories.
I do find comfort in them, thank you, Leslie.Delete
I'm so sorry for your loss. It's so tragic to lose Karen at such a young age, she's my mother's age, my mum literally celebrated her 59th birthday a few days ago. This is such a nice tribute to Karen. I loved reading about how your and Karen friendship grew over the years. It is wonderful to have friends like that and we need to always and forever cherish the memory of a real frienship.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Ivana. It is far too young to lose her. It really made me treasure our friendship that much more.Delete
May her memory be for a blessing.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Ellen.Delete
Thanks sweetie, these are wonderful. I love your walk down memory lane <3ReplyDelete
Thank you, honey. Hugs to you, sweetheart.Delete
What a lovely post and lovely memories!, lots of parties, fun and friendship, which is lovely to see!, thanks for sharing with us!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Monica.Delete
What a beautiful tribute to your dear friend Karen. She really was a Classy - with a capital C - woman, and she had the most fabulous smile! xxxReplyDelete
She was the classiest, Ann, you are right. What a wonderful light she was.Delete
This is so beautiful. And so precious. Good memories. It's great that you still have so many photos, they will help you. And now I have the rest of the evening the Funeral party of The Cure in my head. Which isn't bad, I want that song on my funeral.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Nancy - I'm so glad I was able to do this and share it. It really does help.Delete
Ha, great song.
Loved perusing your pictures. One of the first things I did after each of my losses is frantically gather all photos of them/us. It's wonderful going down memory lane.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Ashley - it's really good for the grieving process to go through these pictures.Delete
I'm so sorry for your loss Sheila, but how wonderful you have all of these photographs and memories of the fun times together! I like digital cameras and digital photos - it allows me to take a ton of pics in an effort to get the best one, haha! But there is something so special about having actual printed photos to look through and look back on.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Mica (hug!). There aren't as many of the non-digital pictures, which makes them that more precious.Delete
Thank you for showing your wonderful friendship over the years with Karen - It looks like you are remembering all the happy times, which is great. Thinking of you and L at this sad time.ReplyDelete
We had so many great times, thank you, Alli.Delete
I am so sorry to hear of Karen's passing. Your tribute to her is beautiful. Thank goodness for (hardcopy) photos and good memories. XReplyDelete
Thank you, Jess, I appreciate that. Yes, thank goodness I kept them all!Delete
I didn't see Karen much over the past few years, but I will certainly miss her. She was very stylish and graceful. Talented and caring. There are not enough people in the world like her. Thank you for sharing your memories together. The comments with each picture are lively. May she rest in peace, knowing she was so loved.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Traycette. I'm so glad to be able to share her with the world. She was an incredible person.Delete
What a beautiful woman and she sounds like the most enormous fun! Your tribute is wonderful, Sheila.ReplyDelete
She was a blast to hang out with, Vronni. Thank you.Delete
The best eulogy ever is the one from the heart :-) Thank you for sharing your love of Karen and letting us, your readers, share in her smiles and your love.
Laurie, thank you so much. I'm glad you could see just a little bit of what a lovely person she was.Delete
What an absolutely fabulous tribute to Karen. thanks so much for shrairng this with us, Sheila. Sending hugs.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Cynthia, hugs to you.Delete
It feels so unreal, to see such a beautiful woman, full of life and laughter, now being gone. Losing her will indeed carve a deep hole in your heart. It will mend again, but it takes time. I remember looking at Pat's photos and thinking "gosh I should have treasured those times more", but that is of course nonsense. You and I have treasured our time with our friends and we still do; we are aware how lucky we are. It would have very much spoiled the fun if we knew in advance that we only have a relatively short time to enjoy it. Wishing you strength my lovely.ReplyDelete
I know, it is just so WRONG, Greetje, for such a bright light to be snuffed out so suddenly. It does take time, but having all these pictures, and writing these posts will help me deal with it. No, we treasured our good times in the moment - there are no regrets. Thank you, hon. Hug.Delete
What a wonderful tribute to Karen. I love looking at all of these pictures. Love and Light to youReplyDelete
Thank you so much, Cheryene.Delete
What a beautiful way to remember her and cherish her friendship.ReplyDelete
Printed pictures are the best.
Thanks, hon. I am glad I did these so that I can look back on them. I love that I had all these printed pictures, but now I'm happy that I've digitized a bunch.Delete
I'm terribly sorry to read about your friend's passing. I'm glad that was able to make her own decisions at the end but it's so sad, especially with one so young. It's lovely to share your cherished memories here. Sending lots of love and thoughts xxxReplyDelete
Thank you so much, Fay. We are all so grateful that she was able to chose how she ended her life, and that she did not have to suffer or die in pain (or in a hospital). I appreciate your kind thoughts.Delete