Chelle Summer

When Life Feels Fleeting

Michelle Rusk

In the corner of my backyard is a peace angel statue, a gift from my good friend Karen to my mom after Karen sold Mom’s house– the Linn family home– nearly ten years ago. It sold within days– which obviously made everyone happy- and I hoped that when it came time to sell my house in Naperville when I had the chance to return to Albuquerque, I’d have the same luck.

Without going into all the details, it wasn’t a very pleasant experience involving multiple sales falling through, a renter who let the yard go so long that I nearly got cited by the city for the overgrown front yard, and then finally a sale but not without a new buyer who insisted she had no idea how to install the new garage door opener (that the renter insisted was left in the garage but no one ever found) and Karen had to go over there and show her how to do it. We tried everything we could to sell it– I even sent a bundle of sage from New Mexico and sent her and her husband Rob to sage the house, to rid it of any negative spirts that were keeping it from selling.

Karen worked hard to sell it, knowing that it was the final piece of me letting go of my life in Illinois as my life in Albuquerque reset and began again. After the house had closed, I told her that nothing could ever come between us after all that we had been through because of that house.

On Friday Karen died unexpectedly, much too young at 62, and I honestly still can’t wrap my head around the idea that my friend’s funeral taking place tomorrow (which will be today when I post this).

Growing up in the Chicago area, there were things that I knew about people but didn’t really appreciate or understand until I moved away. In many ways Karen was family to me because she reminded me of those core values I was brought up to believe were important. When my mom died, she and Rob where there at the funeral– I can still remember seeing them sitting together when I did Mom’s eulogy. And when I married Greg, she and Rob traveled to Albuquerque to be part of a happy occasion.

They lived around the corner from me in Naperville and I spent a lot of my time with them and my across-the-street-neighbors, Doug and Sue. Naperville is a family place which is great. If you have a family. But when you’re a divorced woman whose mother is living with you and you work from home, it’s a challenge to say the least. While most people were busy with their kids, I was walking my dogs and Karen and Rob were scheming up ways to find me dates.

In March 2017, I somehow managed to get her to agree to host a Chelle Summer party at her house. We both invited our friends and I realized as we were prepping for the party how fun it was to plan a party with a friend who, well, also liked to host a party. We were definitely kindred souls that way.

There’s so much more that I can say– about the meals we shared, the time she, Rob, and I took the train into the to have dinner at Rick Bayless’s Frontera Grill before I moved back to New Mexico, and, while I know that Karen, is doing well in her “new home,” I am going to miss the verbal love and support she gave me. She had a large loving family and a ton of friends so I always knew she was surrounded by people she loved because she made them feel loved.

Her time here was too short, but so often time feels too short for all of us. And yet I know how lucky I was that she embraced me– and my mom- in those years on Hidden Spring Drive and after I returned to Albuquerque.