Kristina and I met when we were 14. She invited me to her house after school and asked if I was hungry?
Vanilla ice cream, a jar of Moreno cherries, a splash of Brandy and she lit it on fire...I look on in awe. “cherries jubilee” she announced! and there began the greatest friendship of all times...
For all of you Kristina was something special and I hope I capture all the different ways. Having her in our lives was like having a real life Peter Pan. She was full of mischief, laughter and endless joyful stories and moments. She helped everyone in her life stay young.
The two of us as teenagers, we were innocent looking but we were always up to something and if it didn’t have an element of an adventure, it was far too dull for us. Usually it was Kristina (at that time, dressed in pale pink with a string of pearls) concocting some crazy idea. I was always a little fearful but ended up cracking up and crying with laughter even before one of our adventures began.
As Cara, one of Kristina’s closest friends said...Kristina was a prankster. A prankster disguised in cashmere, a pair of Todd shoes and possibly a stylish apron. She loved to leave surprises in your room, your coat pocket, in the mail. It all began when we were college roommates and we called them Room Attacks. I once came home to my room completely trapped with dental floss from one end to the other. It was like a spider web or something out of the Matrix. She laughed and laughed. Our trip here last winter, she left some quality hidden surprises in our room, plus toy soldiers in my husband’s coat and at least 6 ping pong balls in my purse.
In the last two years we started a tradition of sending our girls care packages to college, not just our own daughters but each others. It became who could send stranger items than the other. Caroline and Talia thought we were nuts but we both got such joy out of it. I reread a recent email from Kristina where she was devising her new plan of 10 separate odd gifts without a card for Talia, sent one week at a time with some cryptic link and then she added “or would Talia think I’m too creepy?”
Being with Kristina for me was a way of stepping out of the busyness and seriousness of real life and entering her world of laughter, surprise and unconditional love. Imagine when Kristina told me she was in love with this new man she met. He was from Austria she said, he was in banking, she met him travelling, they spontaneously detoured to Morocco, there was something to do with the Las Vegas magicians with the white tigers involved and a last minute addition, by the way he is a tiny bit older than us! Well that was the perfect man for her and the love of these two is right out of a Hollywood Movie.
You can imagine when Kristina and I walked into a night club, a coffee shop even a grocery store, the looks of men near by would track her...this tall, lanky, natural stunning beauty turned eyes and even made them trip!
But when she fell in love with Marko nothing else was important. She adored you Marko. You were her next adventure and you not only lived up to it, you were her partner in it all. Legendary Dinner parties, even wilder dance parties, more cats than I can count, reading books aloud, Hawaiian Christmas music all year long, travel to divine locations and a wonderful life in Vienna and Zell am See. She loved you, worried about you and admired you. And how you cared for her, nurtured her and took on her worries this past year, we all need to thank you Marko.
Caroline and Christopher - you were her whole world. Kristina and I shared everything, despite the long distance, so I know everything about you. Your friends, your school projects, your extra special after school snacks, her art shows at your school. Her concerns and her worries of where will you go to university? Will you get jobs? What will you study? How will you get through exams?...roommates! We discussed everything and I always laughed saying your kids are amazing, they are smart, confident, worldly and she would say but...And I would say, don’t worry...all will be fine. And as hard it may seem right now, it will be, because that’s how she raised you and all of us are here for you.
And as I desperately connected through you to Kristina in her last weeks I saw how her traits are within you two. Caroline knew Kristina’s surroundings were so important with flowers, sunset lighting, framed family photos and you even asked about music...Hawaiian Christmas we both decided. Kristina cared about the small loving touches and you have that Caroline.
Christopher, your beautifully descriptive and heartfelt messages to me...they comforted me just like a message from Kristina would have. You have her writing style and her warmth. You are so much like her.
Kristina’s friends and Austrian family....I feel as I stand here before you, the novel which Kristina told me over the last 25 years, the characters are now here and in real life. She loved all of you.
And I am sure you all have your own memories of unforgettable and laugh-worthy moments with her.
We have Kristina’s parents, Monika and Larry, to thank for nurturing Kristina’s quirky sense of humour, mischievousness and generosity. Monika and Larry would often be given a role to play in whatever social experiment Kristina had thought up. It is obvious her inherited zest for entertaining and her joie de vivre came from her loving parents.
As Suzanne, our dear friend in Vancouver, said when a night was planned with Kristina you just never knew. You never knew but it wasn’t out of the ordinary if you ended up wearing her mother’s ball gowns running in the snow down the beach.
It was those types of beautiful memories that will stick with me. But it is all the small details I worry are lost in Kristina’s steel trap of a wickedly smart mind. It was uncanny, was it not? She remembered stories I told her with greater detail than I remembered and she wasn’t even there. She had a talent for that like no other. And if you are lucky, you have emails or cards from Kristina. They were descriptive, witty eloquent works of art that brought a memory or a story to life. She was a lovely writer and I will treasure my correspondence with her.
Is this fair? No.
As Nancy, a great friend of Kristina’s, said...”Kristina was a sparkle in all of our lives.”Such a true statement, but it’s still not fair.
As I traveled here and dodged German and Austrian governments, quarantine plans, multiple Covid tests, all knowing Canadian Travelers are currently banned in Europe, I knew Kristina with a glint in her eye is thinking, “regular travel Ruthie? How dull. Let’s make it exciting for you!”
Well Kristina, I would travel to the moon and back for you... I love you and I miss you - see you later dear friend.
Ruthie Shugarman, Vancouver