Family, Life, mental health

Two+ Years Later…

I just saw that my last published post was in August of 2019…4 months before my world imploded, and 7 months before the world imploded. I tried to write something last December after the year anniversary of my best friend’s death, but I just wasn’t ready. And, honestly, I don’t know if I’m ready now. But I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching, trying to get to know the new person I have become. Because when you experience something so traumatic, you do become a different person. And, I’m finally seeing a little light and seeing how far I have come in the last two years despite the grief, the world going crazy, and the isolation and despair that we are surrounded by every day.

I guess to start, I can share about the event that completely changed the trajectory of my life and the person that I was. On December 8, 2019, I received a phone call that I will never forget. The Reno paramedics called me and informed me that my cousin and best friend, Kelsey Kaye, had passed away and that they could not get in touch with her parents or family. I literally thought it was Kelsey and her boyfriend playing some kind of cruel sick joke on me. She did have a very dark sense of humor sometimes and she was not in the best of places leading up to this. I recall telling the paramedic FUCK YOU! And then my world completely crumbled as I realized how very real this was. I made them put her boyfriend on the phone so that I could hear it from him. He was the one that found her, which to this day, I cannot imagine how horrible that would be. It was bad enough to just get the call.

My memory from there gets a little fuzzy. I remember going downstairs and into the garage to tell my husband and he said I just collapsed onto the floor and was heaving with giant sobs, and he couldn’t figure out what was happening. Once he figured it out, he helped me back upstairs and put me in my bed. I was reeling and trying to figure out how we could find her parents and brother and how we could possibly tell them the worst thing imaginable. Thankfully, her boyfriend called me back and informed me that his dad drove up to their home and gave them the news. In the days that followed, it was a flurry of insane emotions, an outpouring of so much love from everyone who knew her and having to navigate everything that comes along with losing a loved one. We cleaned out her home, found temporary housing situations for her beloved animals, tied up so many loose ends with her business and clients (who were like her family), and had a very small, intimate viewing/funeral with immediate family.

Tequila Shots for our Girl! December 2019

A week after her death, it was her 37th birthday. It was like another dagger to the heart. But we put together an amazing celebration for her, one that she would have loved so very much. We had an open mic in her honor at her favorite bar where she had been working before she passed. Kelsey’s one true love in her life was most definitely music. She had a beautiful singing voice, played a little of everything (guitar, piano, harmonica, drums) and she absolutely loved sitting in with her dad’s band, Mental Floss. So, we had quite a few beautiful performances from amazingly talented friends in her honor. I recited her favorite poem, Annabelle Lee, by Edgar Allen Poe. It was a beautiful tribute, but so hard to get through.

The next few months were a blur, trying to get through life with two young boys without falling into a complete oblivion of despair, which is what I really wanted to do. In February, we had a beautiful celebration of life, where hundreds of people came to honor Kelsey. It was not surprising that so many showed up; if you ever met Kelsey, she made you feel as if you were her best friend or part of her family. She never met a stranger, and the girl had 1000’s of contacts in her phone, people from all over the world. She made an impression everywhere she went, and truly made people feel special. She had a knack for making people feel comfortable with themselves, not judged, and free to be exactly who they were meant to be. She had absolutely no filter, one of the best senses of humor I have ever come across and she loved SO DEEPLY. Her love for animals throughout her entire life was beautiful. She had 3 dogs and 3 cats at the time of her death, and if she had her way, she would have brought home every stray animal in the world. There were many times you could find her giving her own things to homeless people on the streets of Reno, especially if they had animals. She always kept extra blankets and clothes in her car for that reason. She would take in anyone who needed help, which kind of drove her parents and boyfriend completely crazy, but she didn’t care, she loved to help.

Kels with some of her babies: Pepita, Miss Prinze & Miles!

I think her penchant for helping others was also one of her downfalls. She was a very powerful empath, and she felt others energy and issues down to her core. She would exhaust herself by taking on others energies and trying to help them with all their issues. It took its toll on her mentally and physically. She dealt with anxiety, depression, and chronic pain for years, but not many knew about it because she hid it very well. I may have been one of the only people in her life who truly knew what she would go through. She had some insane health issues over the years, things the doctors never really figured out enough to help her fully. I know now that part of her taking on others’ problems and trying to help so many was her way of distracting herself from her own pain. As a person who also lives with mental health issues and chronic pain, I totally get it. I would much rather help others find solutions than focus on what is happening to me.

Our friendship was so unbelievably special to me. It is something that I honestly don’t think many people will ever experience in their lives. I am so grateful that I was able to have what we had for so long. A little history…Our parents were all friends in high school and my aunt dated and later married Kelsey’s uncle, so we actually became family. I started calling her my cousin bff. Her dad and my dad have also been best friends since high school, so we have known each other our entire lives! We grew up with an amazing childhood, lots of fun family events, awesome summer stays at her family’s cabin in Graeagle, and our parents (her parents and my dad) shared a driveway between our homes for quite a few years! When we became teenagers, our friendship grew so much. We bonded over music, boys, and being naughty teens in general! We saw so many concerts together, experienced a ton of firsts together, and just really had an amazing relationship! I have so many memories, it is ridiculous!

The Cousin Crew! Caitlin, Me, Kelsey, Sam and Monica
Prom Sophomore Year 1999

When we got older, our late teens/early twenties, we moved in together and attended beauty school together. During that time, we were partying a lot (too much) and we had a pretty big fight which ended in her moving out. I dropped out of beauty school, and she graduated and ended up moving to LA. We didn’t talk for quite some time, and it always felt like I was missing a piece of my heart. Fast forward a few years, we talked occasionally, but it definitely was not the same. Then I was getting married, and I called her to see if she would do me the honor of doing my makeup for my wedding day, which she accepted. She did an amazing job of course, and we started speaking much more and slowly built our friendship back up. She ended up moving back for a bit and we got closer again. She confided in me that she almost didn’t accept my invitation to do my makeup because she was DEVASTATED that I had not asked her to be in my wedding as a bridesmaid. And honestly, I was devastated as well and let her know that I didn’t ask her because I thought she would tell me to fuck off lol. From then on, we just became closer and closer.

She moved back to LA for a bit, which I hated, but anytime she came to Reno we would hang out. I got pregnant with my first baby, and she was so excited! She made him the CUTEST punk rock baby jacket that I still have in his memory box. Then she made the decision to move back for good and I was SO EXCITED! She was going to be Auntie Kaye Kaye! Her and Kaleb had the most amazing bond! They were kindred spirits and man did she love being his Auntie!

Having her back in Reno was so awesome. We became so close, more like sisters. We talked every single day, usually multiple times a day. She was my best friend, my confidant, my ride or die…until the day she did die. We saw each other through some very hard times, we cheered each other on through some really great times. No one else on this planet knew me as well as Kelsey Kaye, even my husband. When you lose someone like that in your life, it completely rocks your world. I honestly don’t know who I am in a world without Kelsey. So, now I am trying to figure it out. I think about her every single day. I cry every single day. Sometimes it is just a few tears slipping out as a memory flashes into my mind. Some days it is sobbing my eyes out because my heart literally feels like it is empty without her. I look in the mirror and I don’t recognize myself. I am trying to live my life, but some days it is literally just going through the motions of getting through the day. I’m trying to figure out who I am and who I will be going forward. It doesn’t mean that I am lying in bed staring at the ceiling being a waste of space. I still get up every day, I still mother my kids, I still go to work, I still love my husband and love being a wife to him. It’s just different.

I’m hoping that blogging again will help me through the healing process. I’m also looking into equine therapy as traditional therapy just hasn’t worked out for me. One of the biggest helpers in my journey has been Instagram of all things. I found a few grief accounts and through following them and hearing others stories and journeys, it really helped my brain sort through it’s feelings and helped me with the grief loneliness. About a week before the 1 year anniversary, I found the account @LearningAboutGrief. They offered an online grief group that I decided to check out and join. It really helped me at that point and I became Instagram friends with the founder. She has been such a huge supporter this last year, and I can’t thank her enough. If you are on a grief journey yourself, I would definitely check out her website: www.learningaboutgrief.com and follow her on Instagram. A few other grief accounts I follow are:

  • @LifeDeathWhat
  • @WhatsYourGrief
  • @GlitterandGrief
  • @TheGriefSpace_
One of my favorite photos of us!

December just came and went, and in that time, it was the two year anniversary of her passing. My Arbonne team had our holiday get together the day after, and my NVP (team leader), asked us to share our highest high and our lowest low of the past two years. I remember feeling a sense of dread, even though my team knows what I have been through. When it came time for me to share, of course my lowest low was the loss of Kelsey. And then I started sharing my highs…and I was honestly shocked at how many things I was able to list! And my friend Kim stopped me and said, “I just had to interrupt and tell you that as you are talking about these things, your face is completely lit up and you can feel your true joy”, and I realized then that my life is starting again. I am starting to live again. And it feels really good.

So, it may have taken me over two years to write a new blog, but for the first time in those two years, I am hopeful. I am ready to figure out who I am after all these life altering circumstances. I’m ready to experience new things. I’m ready to help others who are dealing with grief. I’m ready to become acquainted with the next version of Megan in this next stage of my life and really celebrate her. And I’m ready to make Kelsey really proud of me, because I know she is here, and she will always be with me.

From Broadway’s Hamilton “Wait For It”

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