Her name was Kitty. She was an elderly woman at my church and that is all I knew to start off, other than the fact that suddenly I had been “tasked” with fixing random stuff at this old woman’s apartment. I believe that if you had asked me on the first day going to Kitty’s house what my feelings were they would have been a perfect mixture of dread and loathing. Dread because I had no idea what this lady was about to ask me to do, and loathing because I had so many other more important things that a fifteen year old could be doing.
I never knew her story till later on, after she had gained my friendship. Sad that I think of it that way, her gaining my friendship, when in the end I couldn’t have been more honored to have hers instead. I remember the first day arriving at her place, it was the only time I ever had her pick me up, it was the scariest ride of my life. If a fifteen year old is scared in the car then the car ride is definitely freaking scary. I remember being so close to fire hydrants that I just closed my eyes and waited for the car to either stop or crash. She never wrecked though… amazingly enough. It did not fortify my faith in the elderly driving, however.
Kitty had a best friend, her dog Sunny. Sunny was a Chow and he was gorgeous. Called Sunny because of his fluffy yellow coat, he was an energetic dog and I could tell that the bond between owner and pet was much more than social. They had a pact, a friendship that was stronger than it probably should have been. I say that because later on I found out why this friendship was so close, Kitty had no one else in her life. Her story was another reason for me to hate “some” organized religion. The callous nature in which her former best friends had treated her made me want to go to their nursing home and break every shuffle board stick there.
Kitty had grown up in a Protestant church (I am using Protestant here because I am not sure of the denomination) for most of her life. For some reason, I have forgotten the exact cause, she decided to search for something else. The odd part is that she searched for a new religion late in life after she was well passed the ages in which discovery should be important or happening. She was at a mature enough age that she should have already decided how she felt about most things life had thrown at her, instead she was facing new challenges and questions every day. When Kitty found my Orthodox Church she was embraced by the parishioners there, as is our custom. What we later found out was that all of Kitty’s lifelong friends from her old church immediately shunned her when she left. They cut her off like a cancer cell.
This was not some sixteen year old girl going through a high school drama episode. I might have begun to understand that, at least to a degree, no this was something far crueler in my eyes. Who cares where someone goes on one day of the week as long as your voices are going in the same direction. True, I do see a difference in other people’s churches and mine and other people’s god and mine own, but that does not mean that I discriminate against those people in regards to friendship. This was a truly sad moment in my own religious journey, as I learned just how important people feel about some issues in life. Those people felt so indifferent to her that they did not even show up at her funeral some years later, a funeral I was proud to be a pallbearer at.
In loving memory.