We eyed each other warily that time your sister introduced us in the late spring of 1983.
She and I were friends of friends, and you were home from the University of Buffalo.
We were awkward. Terribly awkward. But be we became friends that summer. More than friends. Lovers. Confidantes. Co-goofballs. Joint oberservers of the world.
We shared writing. Me, my awful first and second and third analog drafts of a novel that has yet to see a wide audience, and you, the first of many good fiction and SF stories that should have seen a wider audience. I'd like to think my militant musical tastes, backed up by a gorgeous stereo system, affected your outlook in some way.
You went back to UB that fall. I didn't. I didn't go back anywhere; I had no money, so I worked in Syracuse and came to see you when I could. You put me up in your single room in the UB dorms and fed me Pop-Tarts and ramen and we both laughed when the Korean grads down the hall stunk up the whole building with toxic fish-based wok disasters that set off the smoke alarms. We all put on our shoes and went out into the Rockefeller anti-riot-inspired quads and waited till the all-clear sounded.
No one got deported.
I spent a huge amount of time that year going between Syracuse, and later Rochester, seeing you at the Amherst Campus.
Somewhere in there, I lost it. I lost the sense that a sweet, forgiving woman is what I wanted and needed.
Somewhere, I thought I "deserved" something more.
I don't know where I learned that, but now, many years later, I can add that to the stack of lessons I learned... wrong.
I spent a weekend with you in Jamestown with the friends I knew then, in 1988. It was horribly awkward. I apologize.
The last time I saw you in person was in Buffalo. I worked for a law firm that no longer exists, and you worked for a large New York bank that has since been subsumed into an even larger bank with whom I refuse to do business. We were on the plaza in Buffalo.... you hair was curly and windblown, you wore a gorgeous angora sweater and a tartan skirt, and the only heels I'd ever seen you in. It was August, 1990.
I should have held you forever.
Instead, I went to Pennsylvania, and later, Maryland.
That fall, you met your future husband. Not long after, you were diagnosed with the degenerative form of multiple sclerosis.
While you and I corresponded through paper and electronic mail afterward, I never saw you again.
Thank you for the Cat Crazies. Thank you for your yearly Christmas newsletters. Thank you for the hemp door-hanger-thing that my cats eventually destroyed. Thank you so much for the gigantic gray corduroy pillow you made me in 1983, which is one of the few possessions I have left from those days in the ghetto in Syracuse.
And thank you for believing in me when no one else did.
Kathy, your husband understands some of this. I am glad I finally met him. It fucking hurt like hell that I had to meet him that way.
I miss you.
The population of the world that really understands me dropped by one on April 17, 2011. It will not rise again.
Farewell, Katharine Linda Squair.
I miss you.