My friend Kristen Dellaporta left this world on Friday, December 18 after living with metastatic breast cancer with wit, passion, love, and courage. Her motto up until the end, and inked on her arm was, “In grace, in love, be relentless.” French author Émile Zola’s famous pronouncement, “If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud” would also suffice to describe Kristen’s life and impact on those who loved and knew her.
I met Kristen some years ago on Twitter, as so many have, even though we lived about a mile from each other in Decatur. That’s the nature of social media at its best – that it can connect people who are thousands of miles away or only a mile away in some crazy, sprawling web of community. Eventually, we did meet in person at a Ladies of Decatur meet-up. The meet-ups stopped, but the friendships remained. In addition to seeing Kristen as social gatherings, she also came in to see me for Reiki sessions. Initially, it was to help with chronic back pain from a previous spinal cord injury, but she continued to come in regularly for a long time after her cancer diagnosis as part of her overall wellness plan. During those sessions, we talked and joked about mundane and deep things, rejoiced at the good news from the oncologist and cried at the bad, hugged, shared silence, and prayed. Actually, I don’t know for sure if she prayed. But I did. A lot. For both of us.
Connecting with someone on an energetic level is a deep and enduring bond. I wasn’t in Kristen’s inner circle, but we were good friends. Through Reiki, she became one of my spiritual sisters. I saw and felt things in her energy that will be with me for the rest of my life, and I cherish them. The Japanese have a name for the essence of the universe, which is also our true nature: Dai Komyo or Great Bright Light. Each of us contains the Dai Komyo within. This is the light of wisdom and compassion, the state of being that connects us all to the infinite and inexhaustible energy of the universe, which is love. One of the great privileges of Reiki practice is glimpsing one another’s Great Bright Light. Kristen was a star, blazing brightly and there is no illness, nor death, that can extinguish her light or love she brought to those around her..
The night after Kristen died, I had a dream. I was on my way to a party at her house and when I arrived, many guests were in attendance doing various things, but she was nowhere to be seen. I asked one of the guests where Kristen went, who then indicated the general direction where I could find her. I went down the road in the dark looking for her. Suddenly, I caught sight of her up ahead. She looked as she did on the day of her wedding, hair cascading from a loose twist, lips the color of ripe pomegranate, but wearing a glamorous black ensemble. She was on her way to another party. She caught sight of me, and pointed ahead of her. As I tried to follow, people kept appearing in front of me, getting in my way and I eventually lost sight of her.
I woke feeling sad and disoriented. But I knew that this dream is not about anguish or despair. Kristen is transitioning as she must, to the next realm where no illness, nor death, can dim her light. She is restored to wholeness in all her gorgeous glory. Kristen is on her way to the heavenly party, making sure the playlist is just right, the food is delectable, the drinks are intoxicating and the mood is festive. Our beloved one has gone on ahead, saying, “The good part’s next, people.” She will get everything ready and perfect, waiting for the rest of the party to join her when it’s time.