Today I lost a friend. Katie was a fellow counselor at my location of Camp Oasis, and this morning she passed away.
Us counselors refer to each other as our CCFA Family, because we really do believe that is what we become and we have lost a member of our family. I met Katie 2 years ago at my first year at Camp Oasis. She was a return counselor and one of the more friendly ones. That year at camp there was a really large clique of return counselors/former campers, and as a newbie, it was really intimidating. I didn’t get to know Katie very well that year, but I remember her always being friendly and never treating me or the other new counselors like we were outsiders. Even then, Katie was very shy, but there was something about her that made her a friend almost instantly. I’d be lying if I said that Katie and I were best friends, after all we didn’t really talk outside of camp, but she became part of my family that year. Sometime between camp in 2010 and this year in 2011, Katie developed cancerous tumors. The cause was undetermined but there is an underlying suspicion it had to do with her IBD medications*. She wasn’t well enough to be a full time counselor this year at camp but she still came for a few days, and although you could tell she was weak, Katie powered through those days with nothing but smiles. It was clear that the cancer had changed her. She was even more quiet and wasn’t very open about her sickness, but she was still the same friendly Katie. It was almost like being at camp gave her a chance to be herself again, you could see her coming out of her shell. I only saw her once after camp this year. We had a gathering at another counselors house as a mini reunion, and I didn’t get much in terms of updates on how she was doing. She was still very quiet, doing more observing than participating. Fast forward just a few short months later, and here we are without her.
Katie wasn’t one to post her every move on the internet like I am. She died with a level of dignity and grace that I can only hope to learn one day. She was a beautiful, strong woman who has taught me to appreciate everything. Her 23 years here were just simply not enough.
Losing Katie has really made me think about my friends. I surround myself with lots of sick people, and they are my best friends. It is very possible that tough roads may lie ahead for them. While the health of my many sick friends is scary for me, knowing that my CCFA family is there helps ease the worry. We’ve all talked more today than we probably have in the last month, while the reasons why are sad, the outcomes just prove that we all have a bond so strong. I am thankful and proud that they are all in my life, and that we all were fortunate enough to know and love Katie.
*This suspicion is mine, and a few other counselors. Katie briefly hinted at this once herself too, however there was no proof of anything.