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Epilogue for Karen


Alice C. Bateman

{This relates to the poem entitled Karen}

Do you know what the saddest part of all is? I don't even know the actual date. I didn't find out until months later, when that same telephone company gave me a listing for Karen in Toronto {I was in Calgary}, but it turned out to be a mutual friend. He and Karen had roomed together in the past, so I wasn't surprised to hear Michael's voice on the answering machine. I left a message, saying Hi, Michael, how's it going, I'm calling for Karen. She hadn't been in touch on my birthday that year, which was unheard of. It didn't matter where we both were {I was in Calgary and she was in Toronto}, we always kept in touch, especially on our birthdays and any other special days we both shared. I was worried, but Karen was a Gemini and a little flighty during her other twin side, and sometimes she just didn't feel like socializing.

But I was not prepared for Michael's voice when the phone woke me up on that Sunday morning, and Michael's voice was saying "I don't know how to tell you this Alice, but Karen's dead." Then he told me she killed herself, and that it had been months ago. No one had gotten in touch with me, although Karen always had my current address and phone number {I'm a bit of a gypsy}, and I knew her sisters from Newfoundland. By the way, I've had a phone most of the time since, but I never allow it to wake me up.

I still don't believe it. I told you I'm a cross between Sheldon and Lucy in my book In Her Terror; I could write how he mourns his wife, because I miss Karen every single day still. She was with me through the births and growing of five of my children. We did everything together - she was one of the few I'd actually go out and do something with; I'm a bit of a hermit. 

I loved her very much, just as a friend... No, I don't have personal experience of everything that goes on in In Her Terror, in case anybody ever wonders. Here I am, writing to everyone again - sorry Jack, it started out to be to just you, but I got 'Karened' away, and everybody may want to know about the real Karen.

She was beautiful, but childless, and had never been married. She very much envied me my children, and I felt guilty that I could have so many and she could have none. I think she probably had an abortion at a young age, and then couldn't become pregnant. Something happened, but she never told even me.

She got involved with musicians and drugs. My beautiful Karen, and there was nothing I could do. My business and my kids kept me far too busy to have much time for her - and then I moved right out to Calgary, and she probably felt I abandoned her. I feel so guilty. I talked her out of suicide a few times over the years, when the bad twin would take her over, and then I wasn't there for her the one time she really needed me there...

She died in the year we were both turning thirty-seven. Do you know the song "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan?" At the age of thirty seven... Do you know how that song makes me feel every time I've heard it?

I've lost many other friends and acquaintances to different kinds of death, from AIDS to small plane crashes. They all hurt, but Karen is the biggest, most throbbing ache of all.

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