6 a.m. this morning and my heart still hurt. I dragged myself out of out bed like I had dragged myself through my classes and meetings for the past two days. I was there physically, but that was about it.
Replaying a phone call I had gotten at 12:10 a.m. Monday morning, I threw on some running clothes and zipped up my coat this morning, the world was still dark outside. I thought about picking up the phone call, thinking my friend from work was laughing because I couldn’t understand him at first, then it hit me, he was crying.
Katie Iarussi, a friend and coworker, had been killed Sunday evening around 5 p.m. in a head-on collusion on the way back from her boyfriend’s house. A young man, just 29 years old, was also killed and he and my friend were both pronounced dead on the scene when the police arrived. My friend was just 20 years old and went to Kent State University. I had worked with her at Giant Eagle. (Record Pub Article.)
I got to the gym replaying memories of seeing Katie working out there.
I started my run off slow. So many emotions filled my head. I had gone through the past two days on autopilot, not being able to find comfort in anything. I could still picture Katie standing in my kitchen, joking with other coworkers. I could still hear the way her voice sounded, the funny voices she used to make, the jokes she used to tell. I imagined working next to her for over a year, suddenly stocking a simple shelf with her at work became a painful memory to think about. I wish she was still here. I wish we were still stocking shelves together, cracking jokes to keep the time moving.
I cranked my iPod up as loud as it could go as I increased my speed on the treadmill. Music had done nothing for me the past two days. No song could adequately express how I was feeling, no lyric could comfort my heart that was breaking. I kept thinking of her mom, of her best friends. I had been lucky enough to work with her, to hang out with her a few of times, to have her in my phone book. But what about the others? What about her boyfriend who she had just seen right before the accident happened? What were her best friends doing? Were they cherishing every last text she sent? Were they looking at pictures that they had taken a few days prior? How does life go on when suddenly someone is just gone?
I put all my energy into my run, knowing it was my only hope of feeling a little tiny bit better. If there was anything that could make me feel better, it was running.
But the sadness came as I ran.
I was so sad to picture her family at Christmas without her. It was painful to imagine her family’s heartbreak as they went through her stuff. I was overcome with emotion when I thought of her best friends who had grown up with her and now suddenly she was gone and they never got to say goodbye.
I thought about Katie not even having time to reach the milestone of turning 21. I felt tears when I realized Katie would never know what it’s like to walk down a church aisle to see someone she loved standing there waiting for her, she would never hold a newborn baby in her arms and know that it was her’s – two things that mark the very top of my list when I think about what I want in life.
I am so sadden to know Katie is no longer here. I can’t even begin to express my confusion… why her?
I was coming home from my boyfriend’s house about an hour after Katie’s accident on Sunday evening. How did I make it home and she didn’t? How am I still here on this earth, able to hug my mom, to laugh with my best friends, to kiss my boyfriend . . . and she isn’t?
I keep replaying talking to her at last year’s Giant Eagle Christmas party, she had no idea she had just a little less than a year left on this earth.
One of my best friend’s told me the other day that God chooses the most beautiful angels to be up there with Him. I know Katie is up there in heaven watching over us. Katie had the most sincere, hilarious sense of humor. She probably has God himself laughing right now.
I finished my run and packed my stuff up to go home. A run had made me feel a little better because I had begun to realize how lucky I am. I had begun to understand that Katie didn’t need a lot of time to make such an impact on everyone, she had done it in just 20 years.
I know so many people who will think of Katie throughout the rest of their lives, myself included.
You don’t need a lifetime to make a difference, you don’t need a year or two. You need a heart that is sincere and a smile that is genuine, and that was what Katie had.
R.I.P Katie Iarussi. You made the world a brighter place and I know you are having one heck of a time up there with the other angels.