Chapter 28: to know Katixa
If you want to know what this blog is about…
This has been a very strange week
Wonderful from the professional point of view but, while everything went so fine for me, life was just hammering people all around. Among other things, I am a personal Maths teacher. I started last year, and getting the first students is pretty hard. Last week I got a new kid because his teacher at the time had fallen seriously ill. This week I got a second one because she died. She was just 31, had studied architecture and life didn’t give her time to find a job on what she had fought so hard to be. Today two kids in their twenties killed themselves against a truck on the turnpike, not 1 minute away from my house. I hate that bend. That part of the turnpike was opened not three years ago and it was just bidding its time, waiting for prey. Today it scored two students. Also today, my little engineering company issued the first two bills in 20 months. First money it makes. On top of all this, my wife learned yesterday one friend of hers has lung cancer. So, all in all, bitter-sweet week, in which I am feeling great but not quite. How could I?
Life is a gift, but it can be nonetheless ruthless. There is a Pearl Jam song titled Sirens that says “it’s a fragile thing this life we lead. If I think too much I can get overwhelmed by the grace by which we live our lives with death over our shoulders”. I think these words explain in a wonderful way what many people do, celebrate life while they are aware, or maybe because they are aware, it is finite, that it can end anytime. It is in days like these, when you are not directly hit but you can see where the bombs are falling, when this feeling surfaces with most intensity. I tell myself, live, man, LIVE! for we never know. For me, LIVING means making the most of each and every day, it means giving love to those around me. It means planing for a long life, but enjoying the present. We won’t be happy next month or year if we don’t learn to live today. LIVE. Try to get rich, but not in money, but in experiences and affection. To help and be helped, to love and be loved, to share… these things cannot be bought, and are the only ones that give life a real meaning. But I am repeating myself.
Many others, however, do not live their lives with grace, but with recklessness, with disrespect, as if they had many lives to live, infinite days to waste. So they allow banal things to spoil their days one after another. We need to LIVE. We need to learn to respect our own lives, to be grateful for all the things we have, and do not have. Things we and take for granted and which are not taken into account until lost.
Life can be ruthless, but it is the most precious gift. It is worth to fight for, to be fully savored, to the last second. In times like these I remember Katixa. A girl, a woman, I never knew. And I honor her.
The following is the translation of something I posted on a forum 19 months ago.
To know Katixa
I do not know Katixa. I am not even sure I am writing her name right. I think I’ve met her a couple of times, but just briefly and among other people. If I ever talked to her, I do not remember. It is my little sister who knows her.
My sister lives in Barcelona and is due in two weeks. The doctor advised her to rest, so I had not seen her since Christmas or so. Last Sunday she called me from her car, on the way to San Sebastian, Basque Country, with her husband. Her friend Katixa, 35 years old like her, had been fighting pancreatic cancer for three years. My sister was coming to say goodbye.
My sister went to visit without warning. She didn’t know how. She thought she would find her friend prostrate, spend some minutes with her hoping to be recognized, and return to Barcelona the following day. She found Katixa on her feet, smiling.
The day after, Katixa invited my sister, her husband, and a bunch of friends that slowly gathered, to lunch in a wonderful place she had always loved in one of the mountains that break into the sea near San Sebastian. Katixa is thin, feeble, running on morphine to fight the pain, reduced to her most essential self. However, this essence is pure light, pure courage. She joked throughout lunch, sustaining the spirits of the rest, cherishing every moment, each and every second of this life that is trying to run like sand from her clutching hands, and tear her apart from her two little daughters, her husband and the people who love her.
When the evening came, my sister and Katixa said their goodbyes forever. Just in case. Katixa has got it rough, probably impossible, but you can never tell, and she will fight with all her strength the rest of her life, whatever it lasts.
I went to my sister that evening. When we met I held her tight, trying to give her all my love and admiration. Since she learned about Katixa’s cancer she threw herself into the problem, wherever she may be. Sometimes, I would tell her, too deep. And she would be mad at me. It was her friend, what was she expected to do? I told my little sister that if I ever had the need, I hoped to have friends of her stature by my side. The truth is that I would be more than happy with half of that. The strength she is showing, vulnerable as I know she is, does not stop moving and admiring me.
Katixa lives in Donosti, as we call San Sebastian. I do not know her, and I do not think I ever will. However, knowing of her, knowing of her courage, of her will to fight and her love for life, helps me to value what I have and to be a better person.
I do not know Katixa, but I doubt I will ever forget her. I hope you don’t either.
Last 29th, my little sister gave birth to a gorgeous kid. He weighed 3,300 grams. His name is Julen, Basque for Julian.
Katixa lives in our collective memory since the 31st.
LIVE, you fools.
No pictures today.
12 Responses to Chapter 28: to know Katixa
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Beautiful, beautiful … like a song. One we know and know well … “live, you fools” … but a blessing to hear it’s notes again. Thank you for letting me get to know your friend, and for the kind reminder.
Thank you, Lois.
Looks like we were both writing about similar things on our blogs at the same time. Loved your entry “Let it go”.
Yes, I was thinking the same thing as I was reading this. Well, you know what they say, great minds think alike!!
Beautifully written, Weston. Yes, unfortunately, it is these passings of people in our lives on on the peripheral edges that cause us to reflect on how lucky we are to experience life, in spite of the pain it sometimes brings. Just today I retweeted a beautiful quote – “Unless we remember, we cannot understand.” — E.M. Forster. Seems to be in line with your beautiful blog. (tw).
Thank you, Belinda 🙂
Does not surprise me you like it, since your blog “Musings with Camera in Hand” is quite of the same style and has been up and about much longer. It is a beautiful quote, covered in many layers of truth. It does not cease to amaze me how some short lines can hide so many notions inside. This is one of those.
I love how you put words together. I love the words you use, words like “banal” that some may need to look up. And this particular blog is so beautifully written. Can’t wait for the next one!
Thank you, Paulette. The fact that some people read and appreciate my efforts means to me much more than I would have expected before I started this. Few people take the time to read through such longish posts, but it happens I cannot say what I mean any shorter. I do not write about cars, computers or movies. I write mostly about feelings. It’s not always easy. Knowing you people are there is really uplifting. and encouraging. Thank you.
There are so many things to live for, to enjoy every day, that it’s surprising the way some people wastes their lives in nothing but complaining. Yesterday, I brought to my only niece some books. She is almost two years, so she can not read yet, but she enjoyed every page of these books with a delight that made me smile the whole evening. This is living.
Katixa lives forever in all the people who love and loved her, even not knowing her
Well, sometimes you need something to happen in order to wake up. I am who I am because of what I have lived through. Bad things happened that turned me into a better person. These are rough lessons of life that I accept, but I cannot take credit. These things happened to me without my intervention and I wish some of them had not happened at all to begin with, even at the price of being a worse person. That is why I humbly try to awaken people. They still have time. We all grow up self centered and immortal to some extent, and we all end up learning.
The problem is that life is a crude teacher. I just would like to be able to help a little.
You help people around you more than you think, my dear friend.
🙂 Don’t you? Don’t we all?