My words will not do justice to my friend, Catherine – a woman I so admired, respected and felt so blessed to have in my life. I may never fully be able to describe the hole in my heart – the piece that is missing now that she’s gone. And yet, I feel so full – of all the memories we made, stories we shared, experiences we embarked upon. She gave me so much, and I will always be grateful to her for that.
Catherine was an incredibly special person – one who brought great joy, intellect, laughter and love to our world, our community, her extended family and friends, and most especially, to me. Catherine was my constant companion in Amsterdam. I first heard the word “ping” from her, and a typical day was generally filled with “ping me on your way to Marqt,” “ping me from the Manège. I’ll meet you for tea,” “ping me when you’re ready to walk in Vondelpark….” No matter how mundane the day was, Catherine was available to meet for a walk, an errand, a tea, a lunch. These quiet moments together made up the fabric of my days, as her life and mine were seamlessly woven together. Often, our days extended to raucous and laughter-filled evenings out (some too blurry to remember!), Thanksgivings, New Years and birthday celebrations with our families and friends.
Among all of the memories, a highlight will always be our two weeks together exploring Tamil Nadu, India, and building homes for families on the AWCA Habitat for Humanity India trip. This was one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences of my life – not to mention that we must have set an all-time record for the most nonstop laughter among girlfriends! The bond we all formed on that trip continues to be strong, warm and lasting.
Catherine would go above and beyond to connect and be fully present for her family, friends and acquaintances. She placed the highest value on relationships and connection – I know few people who have given so much of themselves to others with no expectations in return. When we were together, she always made me feel so important, so appreciated, so cherished. And often, when we were apart, she would send messages and emails that reminded me in subtle ways how much she cared. She was forever making connections – “Oh, you’re going there? Well then I have to put you in touch with so-and-so.” She made the introduction every time. She was astute at noting a friend’s likes and interests and poof! you’d open up your mail to a lovely, little surprise. She listened, she remembered, and she connected. I often wondered how her brain kept so many facts so tidily organized, catalogued and available for recall. She remembered minute details mentioned in passing – truly a gift.
Her strength, energy and drive always astounded me and caused me to push myself to be a better, more focused, caring person. Catherine was a woman of action. She listened attentively to opinions and thoughts presented by others and did not hesitate to share hers. You mentioned a task or a desire or simply wondered aloud, and in no time, she was on it! She forged ahead. This characteristic perhaps most defined how she approached her illness – she did the required treatments with no-fuss and then forged ahead, living her life to the fullest every step of the way.
Most of all, though, Catherine was a devoted and wonderful mother who had such passion for her son. When speaking of him, the pride and joy truly radiated from every pore of her being. She worked tirelessly to set and model a solid moral foundation and work ethic for him – instilling in him a commitment to family, community, service and excellence. He will carry her legacy forward with pride.
Catherine’s friendship was a great blessing in my life, and I will miss her dearly. May she rest in peace, and may we remember her in light and love.