A long time friend of mine passed away recently and I just learned of it. Erika McKinstry, who I have known since 1983 or thereabouts, passed away from lung complications arising from a blood clot. She died suddenly, in the arms of her husband, who administered mouth – to – mouth but was unable to save her. She fought valiantly and tried so hard to live.
I met Erika back in the early 80s through my friend’s Eric and Norman. She was in the Civil Air Patrol with them and we met at a party at Norman’s house where, among other things, Erika and I danced the “Time Warp” from Rocky Horror Picture Show. I was in and out of contact with her over the years and was surprised to learn that she had a daughter, Aislinn. My daughter and Aislinn got to be really good friends through school and I considered her one of my “other daughters.”
I got back into touch with her before the 1998 Ice Storm that pummeled the northern NY region. My family lost power at our house and we gathered up the kids and the pets and traveled to the home of my friend Jamison Long. During that week without power, we “rescued” Erika and Aislinn and brought them to Jamie’s house to weather the storm. Once there, Jamie and Erika really hit it off and began a relationship that has lasted to this day.
Jamison and I just spoke on the phone about Erika and what happened. He and I (and Erika) have fallen out of touch the past few years for what seem now like silly reasons. I am ashamed to say that I haven’t spoken with her, other than online, in well over two years.
Erika was an artist of the first order. In fact, one of my prized Star Trek possessions is a portrait of me, as a Klingon, holding a bat’leth overhead. It is hanging, framed, in my den right now. A creative light is gone from this world. She was artistic in so many ways, and loved animals. I will miss her.
Please do not wait. Do not fail to talk with friends and family. The Norns have a fate mapped out for us, a wyrd, but man may not know of it. A person can be gone from your life in an instant, so do not miss an opportunity to tell them you care for them. I failed Erika in that respect, and in doing so have failed myself.
I wrote this when my wife’s mother died, from very similar causes as fate would have it; and I think that Erika would appreciate it:
Carried gently on the wings of the Valkyrie,
Borne happily over the Bifrost,
Seated at Odin’s right hand in the Hall of Valhalla,
Know that you have battled long enough,
Know that you are home now, and forever,
Know that we will all see you again,
Feast, drink and laugh for all time, until the end of all.