Three handbags were set out on the back counter last night, just behind the table where we had all sat down to listen to the guest speaker.
An unimportant detail as the women at the table were simply getting settled in and had moved their handbags away from their laps or the back of their chair.
Except all three hand bags were by the designer Kate Spade.
Colorful, simplistic and easily identifiable to the point of being iconic. Three little handbags owned by three separate women.
I was, admittedly, unable to regain my full attention to the guest speaker and instead found myself staring back at this little row of purses. And then I realized that I still can’t seem to release myself from the news of earlier this June.
The world renowned designer Kate Spade at the age 55 had taken her own life.
Everything we knew of this woman was gloriously bright and cheery. Happiness in a handbag. Elegant simplicity. Unpretentious brightness. A casual sense of clarity. An easy, authentic charm.
It isn’t hard to determine the immediate pull so many women felt when they reached for a Kate Spade accessory. By doing so, you were telling the world that that you too had an illuminated presence, a memorable spark to offer the people around you.
It was easy for me to identify further with Kate Spade as both she and I were both entrepreneurs with humble beginnings who had set out on an adventuress path with our spouses. Separated by only five years in age, we were of the same generation. We both began analog, but were succeeding at propelling ourselves into a digital age.
And we were both mothers to teenage daughters; parents who would have to have experienced many of those same family milestones.
Lastly, my own company, Elevate97 had throughout the years, partnered with the Kate Spade Company in providing print and fulfillment work.
There is, within the our front entry, an easily recognizable, bright green Kate Spade handbag and framed logo as a way to celebrate that very special client relationship.
Often, this same single handbag would elicit a gasp of excitement from our visiting clients and community partners. Coupled with a “THEE Kate Spade? Really? I love her!”
Sadly, these past few weeks, that little green bag has created a very different response. One of mourning. One of pause. One of the memory of that same sick feeling any one of us has experienced at an unexpected loss.
Less recognizable, is a simple thin throw blanket on the sofa in our lobby. The weight of a summer shawl, delicately polka dotted and embroidered with the word “Inspire” on it, this too was a Kate Spade accessory.
The tag for which I found so moving that I kept it as a bookmark in the Moleskine journal I write in daily.
I am still processing all of this.
There have been a deluge of magazine covers and online articles in the weeks since not only the death of Kate Spade, but also the sudden passing of celebrity food aficionado, Anthony Bourdain, that are focused on the education of anyone willing to take the moment to read a little further as to what sense can be made of something so seemingly senseless.
I encourage you to take a little time to read some of these articles. There is always merit in gaining additional clarity.
But I would also encourage you to take a little more time to reach out to the bright stars in your life.
Kate Spade was a luminary and she produced something that resonated with people in a way that perhaps they never thought to look past the glossy, bright coat of paint that she cast her world in.
The thing is, some of that paint wasn’t paint at all…it was a sugar coating. And we never thought to look past it.
We should never assume that even the strongest among us aren’t hurting or struggling to figure something out. In fact, it’s been my experience that everyone around us is going through something or dealing with their own set of challenges.
No one has it as easy as you think they do.
In a world first filtered through the polished platform of social media, we all need to go a little deeper.
We need to reach out. Send that text you think about sending to wish someone well or simply tell them you were thinking about them.
Don’t be afraid to check in.
Even if you think everything is okay.
And if you are struggling…if you are in a place where words may no longer reach you and the world feels like it’s just too much, please consider calling into the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Thank you for reading.
Sometimes music can make all the difference. It can change a moment, it can change a day and it can change a life if you allow it to. Here is a my latest playlist. Enjoy!