I first met Kari in the summer of 1991, on a visit to Morris. Her laugh was infectious, and when I learned we'd be floormates, I knew we'd soon be friends. She was the kind of friend that I would've lived with, the kind of friend I could call out of the blue after two months and it would feel as if we'd never been apart. I can still hear her bubbling laugh.
Sixteen years ago, Kari was in a terrible car accident. She survived for nearly a month on life support, and at first we all hoped...but while her face and bones healed, it became clear in that month that her brain would not. She died January 9, 1995.
She would've been 38 today. I miss her so.
I wrote this poem for her in 1997.
for Kari Jane, 16 March 1973 to 9 January 1995
I am with you in the windy light
when the voice of our last tear is silenced
with nothing to remember
nothing to remember us by.
--Mark Vinz, "Elegy: from a North Country Journal"
You braced for the impact.
It crushed both your wrists
and left knee, snapped both ankles.
Thrown against the windshield,
your body yielded,
let the bones around your left eye
shatter in eighteen places.
The glass tore your cheek through
to your teeth inside.
Your corn silk hair
soaked up blood
until the rescue squad wrapped your head
in a towel to hold the skin in place.
Six months after the funeral
I woke up, sobbing, dreaming
of your body, frozen, embalmed.
Three weeks before the accident,
you taught me how to roll down hills.
I held your hand and promised
to always love you,
swore I would be godmother to your children,
would room with you in the nursing home.
Instead I was your pallbearer,
not your bridesmaid,
thankful they let me escort you to your grave.