There are some individuals that can stop you in your tracks with their outer beauty and then there are others that can stop you in your tracks with their inner beauty…few can do both while making you feel like the beauty in the room. Kate had this talent. I remember the first day of high school. I had my group of friends and wasn’t feeling intimidated by the idea of expanding the circle. But being a young girl, clearly you checked out your competition for the male species.
Then I saw Kate. She was stunning! She was tall and slender, had blue eyes that smiled at you with a piercing certainty, a killer smile, a perfect sun kissed tan and long flowing hair.
“UGH! How am I going to ever get a boyfriend if this is what the other girls look like in high school” was my only thought.
The qualities which struck me initially as a striking outer beauty slowly became a distant thought as I got to know Kate. That sounds like a strange thing to say… I should explain.
Once you met Kate, she instantly made you feel comfortable, whether it be from her warm smile or her quick wit. She had a confidence about her and a bit of a swagger (which I now attribute to an overall Shea trait) and a quick wit that could take you from tears of sorrow to tears of laughter in less than a minute. She always made you feel part of the crowd and never discriminated with whom she would share her love for life. Kate and I were not best friends but there was never a moment when we were hanging out that she didn’t make you feel like she considered you as one of her closest friends. It’s a gift that few people posses to make others around them feel important. It was genuine. It was her soul seeing the best in others. You also appreciated that quality because if there was someone in the room that was putting anyone else down, Kate would be the one to call them out on it and make them look in the mirror before casting any other stones. She was a force of Nature not to be reckoned with. Her strength, her humor, her kindness and her candor all made her such an amazing friend that you saw her as a beautiful soul and forgot about the stunning girl that intimidated you at first glance.
It wasn’t until our college years, one summer, when I hadn’t seen Kate in a few months that I was once again struck by her outer beauty. We were all hanging out at another one of Dunph’s summer parties when Kate and Vincent arrived from someone’s wedding. After a great big Shea hug, I looked at her and just blurted out how gorgeous she looked. I actually had forgotten, since the first week of freshman year, how stunning she truly was on the outside because her inside shined its star on us for all those years. A few minutes later…just like that, Kate worked her magic and within moments was throwing compliments all over the crowd, making us all laugh and just sharing her crazy energy with us, making me forget about her exterior and just seeing her as my dear friend Kate.
I can hear her now, busting my chops for sounding so sappy but smiling at the same time knowing exactly where my sentiment comes from.
On any given day, I get a visit from Kate, not in an actual ghost form but just in sensing her presence. I can’t describe it specifically but there is no denying it. It can bring me to my knees in tears from missing her or make me burst into laughter remembering something she did. I feel honored to say she was my friend. I feel angry that Cancer took her too soon from us. I feel blessed that the Bay Head 5k Memory Run has allowed us all to go through the grieving process together and come out of this better people…better people, I hope, that are a little more like Kate, when we aspire to do something for others.