Excerpts from Katlyn’s Eulogy, December 12, 2014:
Katlyn was born just 30 minutes after her father’s birthday had ended, forever his special gift from above. The most beautiful and precious little bundle of love he had ever seen. Katlyn’s light shined brightly from the start. She was irresistible. When he would come home from work, she would scream “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy” and crash into him in the doorway, wrapping her arms around his legs and squeezing them with all her might.
Her Dad taught her that two things mattered most, always be kind and don’t be boring (which to him meant, don’t be afraid to fully express yourself, don’t live by anyone else’s rules). It was clear early on that she would personify those lessons far more than he could imagine.
The memories of her brilliance flood our minds. She had more than a spark, she lit up more than the room, words fall short of the bright light, charm, wit, and sheer power she possessed. Who else could walk into the birthday party of a friend in Hawaii that she had recently met and karate chop his birthday cake in half just for fun? And after the new friend made Katlyn take a forced “timeout,” he fell completely in love with her, just like the rest of us.
From the moment he first laid eyes on her in that softly-lit hospital room, her oldest brother knew he had fallen hopelessly in love with his baby sister. This would be the first and fondest of a lifetime of memories, and the beginning of a deep and unspoken bond between the two. She would always be his precious girl, munchkin, and little poop nugget.
The two of them would share a love of music, of the ocean, and of adventure that would be second only to their love and admiration of each other. Katlyn looked up to her older brothers and filled them with pride. Katlyn’s brothers would teach her to love life and always be herself, but it wasn’t long before the student became the teacher. The three of them would form a tribe, a fiercely loyal band complete with their own language, demented sense of humor, and tattoos.
Katlyn was the glue and the ringmaster. The love of this tribe would hold no bounds, and it was this honest and unwavering love that would keep the family united. Perhaps the greatest example and expression of this love was when the family enjoyed a 7-day cruise together to celebrate Katlyn’s college graduation. Each night a family of 3-kids, 2-divorced parents and 1-stepmom would sit down to dinner, share laughs and make plans for the adventures that the evening and following day would bring. Now seriously…who does that?!
It was on this cruise that many of the family’s fondest memories were made together, and among these for her oldest brother were the celebrations they would share on the dance floor. This was one of the few times he ever found Katlyn too shy to participate, but all she needed was some coaxing, and perhaps a little liquid courage. Without a second thought he would lift her up on his shoulder like a stack of 2x4s and transport her directly to the center of the dancefloor and into the spotlight where she belonged.
Katlyn will always be her middle brother’s little sister K-Butt, and he will forever be her Annie. This was their endearing way of expressing that they loved each other in a form that didn’t need to be stated. Katlyn was both the most preciously delicate and unyieldingly resilient person he has ever known. She encompassed every crazy, outward, vibrant, and silly virtue of all who knew her.
Katlyn was one of the few people who could cause her entire family to blush, and that is saying quite a lot. We would often engage in back and forth battles of wit until one individual had to withdraw due to the acknowledgement that he or she had been soundly outdone. Katlyn didn’t back down from any challenge, and was therefore rarely left blushing or anything less than the victor.
Katlyn had a heart of gold. She cared about everyone, especially those who were struggling. She did volunteer and mission work out of genuine care for the least fortunate. She loved all living creatures, from her first pet ant Tommy, to marine mammals, to her beloved dog Teddy, who she bought while away at college, making up a story about how her roommates stuck her with the dog.
How do we make sense of the tragic loss of Katlyn, who was such a bright light that positively impacted so many? We have struggled hard to find answers to this question. In the end, we believe that like all of us, Katlyn, more than anything, just wanted to be loved. With her huge and fragile heart, she often took on the problems and struggles of others, while her own internal struggles piled up. Katlyn’s cries out for love and justice were often raw and emotional. Those like Katlyn, who are such a loving and healing presence for others, are often that way because they carry the deepest wounds.
So in honoring Katlyn, we should emulate the best of her. We should always try to love a little more and be the voice for those in need. We should be true to ourselves and live life fearlessly with passion and joy. We should be outrageously supportive to our families and friends, and lift them up with our love and laughter. And we should keep looking for the deeply wounded souls that need more help than our love can give, and should not rest until they get the help they need to heal.
The premature end of Katlyn’s life is such a tragic loss for those who knew and loved her, and those who will never get the chance. She was a “Mighty Spirit,” she was our “Outrageous Warrior Princess of Love and Laughter,” and we all wanted her beside us when facing life’s battles.
For all those who had the privilege to know and love Katlyn, we must not forget that she is closer to us now than ever. We will carry her light with us and live by her example. In our greatest challenges and sorrows, as always, Katlyn will remain by our side, reminding us to smile a little brighter and laugh a little louder.