If you know me, you probably know something about Katie. Katie's and my stories are intertwined.
Katie died on November 15, 2018 after a 15 year battle with Anorexia. At the time of her death, she and I had been friends for 10 years. We had more distant periods during that 10-year friendship (when she lived several states away, etc.), but during the last year and a half of her life, Katie and I talked just about every day and I went to visit her as much as I could.
Katie desperately wanted to beat her disorder, and because of her fighting spirit, I always thought she would. The painful truth, though, is that eating disorders are deadly illnesses. Strength of spirit has very little to do with it. How much a person is loved has absolutely nothing to do with it. I know that to be true because Katie was loved immensely, not just by me, but by so, so many.
Katie's final texts to me were heartbreaking. It was evident that while she wanted to live, she knew she was losing her battle. Still today, I believe Katie could've recovered. I can't pretend to know why exactly her fight ended the way that it did, but I do know she could've beaten it. She was strong enough. From my viewpoint, it was a fatal combination of a flawed mental healthcare system and a body that was unable to withstand one more day, even though the spirit within it was not even close to being finished with this life.
Katie had hopes and dreams for her future. One of her main goals was to give back and help others. She wanted to write a book about her journey. She wanted to inspire other people to love themselves and each other. She wanted to make a difference.
And she would've. She should've.
In her absence (and in the presence of my own heartache at missing my friend), I've decided to try to accomplish some of the things she would've done had she recovered. I hear her again and again encouraging me to speak up and try to help others. She has made me determined to do my small part in creating a future mental healthcare system that is more set up for the success of those it serves.
I am so far out of my element. I don't know what I'm doing. I am not afraid to admit that she would've been so much better at all of this than I am. She had a beauty and a grace about her that made things easy--even though things for her were, by no means, always easy. More often than not, she was faced with adversity, and she conquered. She got good at overcoming. Among other reasons, this is how I know she would've recovered had her treatment and care been different.
Katie was no better, and no worse, than any other person struggling with an eating disorder. But if you knew her, you knew she was meant to do big things, much bigger than her 30 years on this planet allowed for. And don't get me wrong--she DID do big things. Just ask any of the number of people she influenced along her journey. But she so wasn't finished. It was evident.
Frustrated at this fact, one day it hit me: She is not finished. We will carry her story. We will spread her influence. We will make change that never would've occurred if not for Katie and her beautiful life.