Saturday, April 5, 2014

Cat Rocco, Gone Too Soon

You may remember that I've written about my colleague at work who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer; actually, she hasn't taught at my school in awhile, but she continued to feel like a colleague.  And this colleague is not my high school friend and former housemate who is battling esophageal cancer.

Yesterday my colleague battling pancreatic cancer died.  It seemed sudden, some 2 months after diagnosis.  I know that's often the trajectory with pancreatic cancer, and I know that a death shortly after diagnosis can be a mercy of sorts.  Everything I've heard and read about pancreatic cancer talks about the painful nature of this type of cancer.

I have always tried to be careful about using specific names of people and/or pictures of people on this blog.  It feels like a more public space than Facebook.  But now, it feels appropriate to name my colleague:  Cat Rocco died yesterday. 

I don't have many pictures of Cat.  I did write about her in this post that talks about the moving art gallery she created, a sort of flash mob to call attention to a gallery and tattoo studio that some of our alumni students created in Dania Beach.  That post has pictures of her studio.

Let me go back to my files to see if I have any other pictures that should be included this morning.

Jackpot!  Cat Rocco is the woman on the far left in the above picture, the woman standing, the woman with the long dark hair.  The woman standing beside her is also a colleague and teacher; she's the one who invites me to Girls' Club Gallery with her students, the trips which bring me joy.

The above picture also gives you a sense of Cat's studio and her art, which you can see surrounding everyone.

The above picture is one of my favorites from her studio.  For years, she held open studio nights on Friday nights.  People would gather to discuss art, create, and eat delicious food that she made.  When it was clear that she would not survive this disease, she invited people to her studio to help themselves to her supplies.  That sums her up:  generous through and through.

Let me also pay tribute to her ability as a teacher.  She was one of those teachers who was beloved by almost every student.  She loved to share her passion for art with students--and with everyone, really.

We will all miss her immensely.  But we were lucky to know her.

To honor her, today and every day we should all create some art in whatever form pleases us most.  It's what she would have wanted.


Maureen said...

Sincere condolences for the loss of your colleague.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this Kristen.Cat was such a good friend - I can hardly breathe with the grief. The best way for me to remember her is when I first met her, I asked her what she painted. She twinkled madly at me and said, I am not a painter, per se. I move energy around a space with the art I make. WOW!

Kathleen said...

So sorry about the loss of your friend.

Anonymous said...

We have lost a beautiful human being (inside and out)...a personal email I received from her after diagnosis was "my heart and head are in a good place"....a truly remarkable and courageous human being. My thoughts and prayers go out to Gary as he lives into his new reality.

Jill said...

I knew cat(Cathy to me) back in grade school. I remember feeling back then she was someone special. We reconnected last year, and I was so glad. She was one of the most spiritual grounded people I have had the pleasure to know. Her grace through her short illness was amazing. She truly touched many people. I was lucky to have known her