Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Kate Goldstein

One of my best friends died recently. She was on a work-related trip to India, went for a run on June 14, and never returned. Searchers looked for a week before finding her body several hundred feet below the trail where she was thought to have run. There is a news story about it here. Since my way of dealing with crap in my life seems to be writing about it, here goes....

I met Kate through the Greater Boston Track Club. She joined, looking for a competitive group of women to run with. We found out that we lived a half-mile from each other, and we began running in the early mornings along with Anna Novick, a Harvard student and fellow GBTC athlete.

At first, we would exchange emails the day before a run, but eventually we just started showing up at the same time - 5:05 a.m. - in Central Square on Mass. Ave. Kate trained with the Greater Boston Track Club for a few months, but ultimately decided to switch teams to New Balance Boston because she found it to be a more supportive environment for her. Kate was constantly looking for improvements in all aspects of her life. If something was amiss or she didn't like something, she took care of it right away.

Despite the club switch, Kate continued running with me and Anna. Anna and I trained for marathons, but Kate mostly ran the long mileage just because she wanted to. While Anna and I craved the thrill of racing and trained for it, Kate trained to train. She ran because she simply loved running, and that was it. She was only competitive with herself.

We covered thousands of miles and bonded over chatter about her family (her dad who she said looked like Groucho Marx, her mom who worked tirelessly as a family practice physician, and her genius younger brother who was often misunderstood but she loved fiercely), her dog, her research, her consulting gigs, her state of mind, politics, religion; all of this was a two-sided conversation of course. She always wanted to know how I was doing - and not in a superficial way.

Kate had a few quirks as a runner. She always ran on the softest available surface. If we were running on the river trail, she would take the dirt path next to the pavement. If we were on a sidewalk, she would run on the grass strip or people's yards. She loved true trail running and enjoyed driving out to Concord in her Prius for long runs in the woods. After one such run, Kate decided that she didn't want to wear a sweaty sports bra on the drive home. She stripped right there in the parking lot and changed, not giving the bikers across the parking lot a second thought.

Kate had a potty-mouth that she tried to tame around me - out of respect for her non-swearing Mormon friend. Still, there were a few special occasions when she unleashed some obscenities: when she nearly stepped on a giant snapping turtle by Jamaica Pond ("Holy $***!"), when drivers would stare at her instead of the road ("Watch the road a**holes!"), and when that nagging IT band would act up ("F***!"). Kate often had to stop and tie her shoes; so much so that she became known for it. On her birthday, Anna bought her a new pair of shoelaces.

Kate had an extensive collection of running shoes, which grew when she joined New Balance Boston. She got a great discount at the New Balance Outlet because of her team membership, so she took me a few times to buy shoes for me and my family.

Kate was always generous, almost to a fault. She once confessed to me how tight money was on a grad student budget. A few weeks later, she left an Ibex running shirt on my doorstep. It wasn't a holiday; she just knew that I loved Ibex gear and was too cheap to buy it myself.

Kate craved real face-to-face interaction with people. She was not hooked to Facebook and rarely posted on it. She preferred talking in person. She sometimes felt isolated as a female MIT student and so rallied diverse but like-minded women, founding the Powerhouse Women. We had "Powerhouse Parties" at her place in Central Square once a month. We would cram into her little apartment and sit on every available surface and just chat about what we were up to, our roles as women, the challenges we faced, and how we could help each other. I sometimes felt that as a stay-at-home-mom that sometimes freelanced and was scraping by as a nanny, I didn't belong there; Kate made it clear that I was not only welcomed there, but needed there.

Kate enjoyed cooking for everyone; she invited the Powerhouse Women to all bring something, but made a majority of the food (and it was always delicious of course). Kate was an excellent networker, but she never networked for the sake of advancing her career. She connected with people as a person - not as a potential employee. When you conversed with Kate, she always made you feel like the most important person in the world. No matter how busy she was, she always had time for you.

Kate moved to Jamaica Plain; between that and me getting pregnant again and thus running fewer miles, we didn't run together as much. Instead, we would meet at the MIT lunch trucks or at a park so my kids could play with her dog Ezekiel.

When I was in the hospital on bedrest before having my third child, Kate stopped by the hospital to say hello. She was sweating, in running gear. She talked to me, reassured me that everything was going to be fine, complimented me on hanging in there, and downloaded Audible for my computer so I could listen to books while laying in my hospital bed. She logged into her personal account and told me to feel free to use it. She gave me her schedule that week, which included a lot of commuting in the car; she told me to call and we would chat to pass the time.

We met up to run a few times while I trained for this year's Boston Marathon. We would meet by the BU Bridge, about halfway between our places, and run along the Emerald Necklace - her running along the dirt paths of course. I confided in her that my training wasn't going great: I was running fewer miles than I wanted, getting a lot less sleep than needed, and not getting to workouts like I should have been. She helped me enjoy running more for just running, and not stress out about the things I couldn't control. She was always supportive and encouraging.

On one snowy winter run, Kate brought Zeke along. Every once in awhile, Zeke would stumble and put up a paw, and Kate would stop to gently pluck the rock salt out. Kate once told my kids about a time when she ran with Zeke on some trails in New Hampshire; they got lost and Zeke helped them sniff their way out. My kids told and retold this story and it is the stuff of legends in my house.

Kate loved my kids (9, 4, and 1-year-olds) and was genuinely interested in their well-being. She talked to my nine-year-old about the books he was reading. She let my four-year-old walk Zeke and feed him peanut butter and Kix. The last time we saw her, Kate gave my daughter a decorative nutcracker. My daughter had asked for it and Kate handed it to her; I was embarrassed about this, but Kate assured me it was fine.

A few weeks ago, Kate was having a rough time. She texted me, "Hey Emily, I so hope you and the little ones and Scott are well. I could use some support, relationship is ending, having difficulty working and needing to take time off from my PhD. All changing at once :("

That was Kate: if she needed help, she asked for it. She didn't wait for me to instinctively know that she needed help (and I am so grateful for that!). I called her up, but she wanted to chat in person. She needed help moving out of her place in JP that weekend, so we decided to meet up then. I had my kids with me, so she never got the chance to speak as freely as she wanted to. While my kids played with Zeke, we moved Kate's stuff out to a trailer. She was moving her stuff back to Providence to her parents' place while she recovered from all the changes and hard work on her thesis.

I knew it would be a few months before I saw her again, so I gave her a card and told her how amazing she was. I reassured her that although she felt like she was weak and vulnerable, she was "KATE STRONG!" Just like Boston became a stronger community after last year's bombing, Kate would become a stronger woman. She sent me a text a few days later: "You have no idea how much your note meant to me Emily. You're an angel in disguise."

Kate told me about her trip to India. She was almost dreading it because she just wanted to relax at home for awhile. She considered delaying her trip, but I told her she would feel better in the 10 days before her trip. Plus, she was going to help install solar panels in poor Indian villages; she would not want to miss out on that.

Her last text to me before leaving for India was this: "[The weather] is really beautiful. Thank you again Emily for being a beautiful kind thoughtful giving person. You're wonderful."

Kate was always complimenting me, building me up. She always thought of others, and put her thoughts into action. I am a better person for having known Kate Goldstein. She made me into a more confident, balanced, thoughtful woman. It was an honor to call her my friend.



Blogger Kindness for Kate said...

This is so incredibly beautiful and describes her perfectly. I miss my beautiful best friend.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Kindness for Kate said...

I love this so much. Thank you for posting it. It describes Kate perfectly. I miss my beautiful best friend so much.

4:43 PM  
Blogger ellen said...

I have tears in my eyes reading this. What a beautiful person and what a wonderful friendship you shared. I hate that she's gone. The world's loss is heaven's gain.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Bonnie B said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I hope it made you feel better as you wished it would. I feel like I know her and the world won't be the same without her in it.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Doc said...

A beautiful tribute to a tender friendship, built on miles and miles of trails and pavement. Sending you warm thoughts, my friend.

7:41 PM  
Anonymous Pat Singleton said...

Emily, thanks for helping me know more about Kate. She was very admirable, and the world lost a treasure, you've convinced me.

I'm very glad that you two had the friendship you did, that you could be kind and inspiring and helpful to each other and to appreciate each other.

That's one of the most important things God calls on us to do.

8:34 PM  
Blogger Karyn said...

I didn't know Kate, but feel like I do now. Beautiful words Emily. So sorry.

10:48 PM  
Blogger Alyson said...

Beautifully said Emily. I'm so sorry you lost such a wonderful friend.

8:50 PM  
Anonymous MinWah said...

Emily, thanks so much for sharing! Everything you described was so true! I hope your kids and family are well. I remember when she gave away the nutcracker...so sweet. I'm in California now but I would so love to keep in touch with Powerhouse Women, even if it means doing so virtually. Thanks again for your stories; I have found great comfort in them. -MinWah

1:06 AM  
Blogger JenRunner said...

What a beautiful tribute to your friend. So few in this life have such strong friendships as this, ever. Sincere condolences to you on this terrible loss.

9:47 AM  
Blogger stephasauri said...

This is a beautiful tribute Emily. Kate sounds like an amazing person who will be missed. I'm glad your were such wonderful friends for each other. *hugs*

4:17 AM  
Anonymous Ayu said...

Thank you for writing this, Emily. I was with Kate in India and I didn't get much time with her, but we quickly became friends and I will always remember her drive and energy. Reading this helped me know a little more about Kate and I am so moved by the love and friendship that you shared.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Gary Cattarin said...

I didn't know Kate but having suffered a similar loss last year of a dear running friend, I understand what you've felt. You've captured her essence in your words. Just as my friend John stays in my thoughts, you will have the blessing of the memories of Kate forever.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Cagney and Laci said...


10:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I "know" Kate through her dad, who I worked with. His face was filled with pride and love when he spoke of her, and I was always in awe of her accomplishments. I met Kate briefly when she attended a party with her parents, and was amazed that the articulate, outgoing, bubbly young lady was the same focused, intelligent, driven person who I had heard so much about. Your blog was wonderfully written.....thank you for sharing for those of us who didn't know her, but are heartbroken for her family and friends. Hoping you all find comfort in having been blessed with her love and friendship. MBD, former nurse at SNESC

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Stephen Dotson said...

Just wanted to share that a legacy scholarship fund has been created in Kate's name, and they're launching it with a campaign in her name tomorrow, you can join and donate social media to help spread the word here: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/17536-giveforkate-sustainability

It's to support young adults like Kate, who are pursuing careers in sustainable building and renewable energy like she did. Spread the word if you can

Also, here is an interview filmed with her dad here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wS7-3NCDqM)

10:34 AM  

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