Yesterday, Julia London and I heard the devastating news, and with heavy hearts we share with you that Kathleen Givens, our dear best friend and one of the original three Whine Sisters, has died. She’s far too young and it’s much too soon. We’re still reeling from it. How can it be? But it is and we’ll never be the same.
Julia shares her thoughts:
We met in the bathroom at our first RWA conference: Chicago, 1999. Kath had a great story of how we met that escapes me now. All I remember is her jet black hair and my need to pee. Somehow, in the way those things happen, we became fast friends.
Kath has been a true and loyal friend these past eleven years. She was the first on the phone when I was down, the first on the phone when I was up. We talked mostly on email—daily, and several times at that—because our phone calls could last hours. We have been there for each other (all of us, Sherri, me and Kath) through the worst of this business and the best. We have lived through the travails and triumphs of family. We have exchanged pictures and oohed and aahed over our kids and dogs, and exchanged gifts at birthdays and Christmas. In fact, we all agreed just a few days ago that our favorite Christmas tradition is when we meet online in a chat to open our funny little gifts for each other.
This year, Kath gave Sherri and me a necklace that said, “Never, never, never, never give up.” It is a quote by Winston Churchill, and she had taken that on as her mantra. She was so done with 2009, so ready to begin new in 2010. I wore the necklace to my nephew’s wedding.
I am still stunned in the passing of one of my best friends, and I think there are more poetic things to be said about her than I am able to think of at the moment. Right now, with the news of her sudden and unexpected death so fresh, the only thing I can think is this: Kath loved His Majesty and her daughters more than her life, she adored her grandchildren with every breath she took, and she cherished and nurtured her friendships in a way that I have envied. She would not want us to grieve. She would tell us that life is short and to live it. As usual, I am not listening to her. I am grieving.
Sherri shares her thoughts:
I met Kathleen in the bathroom, too, Chicago 1999. She remembers that she met Julia London in the bathroom and has a great story about it. I never wanted to horn in on her “meeting Julia in the bathroom” story, so I just kept it to myself that she met me there, too, and smiled. It’s probably better that she didn’t recall me walking up to her and asking about her books after I saw her nametag. I told her we had an email loop of Dell authors and that she should join us. Later, we met again at a workshop and shared a glance and a knowing smile. At that moment, we connected. We both knew we were kindred spirits, and we hit it off from there. That’s what mattered. Meeting in the bathroom, not so much. She could share that one with Julia London.
Kathleen and I shared laughter, tears, and lots of long phone calls. We couldn’t figure out how to conference call between the three of us, and it was funny enough to see us trying to get it together to Instant Message for the Christmas Exchange. But there were the daily emails zinging back and forth between the three of us—I could never bring myself to delete a single one of them. I have them all going back to 2005. A system crash deleted the ones from previous years. She used to marvel that we should be so close when she was almost my mother’s age and I was closer to the age of her daughters. I would laugh it off and tell her I was a very old soul. Her daughter Patty summed it up better when she joked that her mom was just impossibly immature. Still, she couldn’t help getting a little maternal with me at times, protective, though she was usually more of a sister, and always more than a friend. The love I feel for Kathleen is overwhelming and the loss of it is staggering. I remind myself that I’ll always have her with me and that love goes on and on. But I can’t call her and laugh about it. I can’t pick up the phone and hear her voice to give me instant inspiration. She had the gift of listening and inspiring. I had the gift of making her laugh at the worst of times, but I didn’t get that chance in 2010. I’m going to talk to her anyway, out loud at random intervals, and I want to think that sometimes, I’ll hear her laughing back. Kathleen, I love you, man.
Kathleen wrote gripping, true-to-life Scottish historicals in her trademark lyrical prose. She won a RITA for The Destiny, and it was a proud and exciting moment for us all. You can check out the rest of Kathleen’s book list at her bio here, or at her webpage http://www.kathleengivens.com.