Goodbye to a friend

Kathy Johnson's life will be celebrated Wednesday at 4 p.m. at her favorite bar in Granada, Kelly's Bar

My friend Kathy Johnson made her decision that it was time to leave. She died, by choice, early Thursday morning. I know it was early. I received an email message from her at 12:30 a.m. and we found her body at 6:20 a.m.

She decided to end her life when her depression won out. The battle was over when she took her pistol with her to her car and used it.

Just two weeks earlier, our veterinarians had borrowed the same pistol to euthanize a horse with a broken leg. That was traumatic too, but—as with Kathy—it ended the agony of pain.

All the warning signs were there, just as we read about them in novels and news reports. In her final email to me, she wrote, “Donna, nothing I can say will ease your anger or pain, but I know you would want for me the things I would want for myself.”

She was so right about so much…but no, I would never want this. Never. Kathy, you were so very wrong on this one, Girl!

Then, because humor was part of what and who she was, she added: “You are everything I wanted to be, minus the kid/husband thing. You know how I feel about you and, no, everybody, we are not girlfriends. (Donna told me to write that).”

Reading it made me laugh and I knew that her humor was meant to soften the mental pain I would surely feel. This time she was right.

There is still much to happen ahead of us before we say a final goodbye. Kathy will be cremated today, her ashes placed in the pauper’s section of the Granada cemetery as she requested.

Her Sandinista flag will leave the doorway of her house to join her on her grave. Political differences will be laid to rest along with Kathy.

On Wednesday, we will honor our friend at her favorite Granada bar, Kelly’s, toasting and sharing so many memories of good times together that they are beyond counting.

Her home companion, Spotty the cat, is safe with his vet, Dr. Marielena Solorzarno, who was Kathy’s dear friend. Kathy dearly loved Spotty. The fact that she would leave him behind in this world was proof that her desperation was strong. We needed to know this.

And so Kathy moved on. She knew it was okay to go.


Donna Tabor has lived in Nicaragua for 16 years, first as a Peace Corps volunteer, and now as Nicaraguan Project Coordinator for the NGO Building New Hope. Kathy figured significantly in Donna’s work in Granada, assisting in the care of street dogs, contributing to the education of young children, and—Donna says—”being there” when she was needed. Donna and Kathy became close friends. “I could count on for anything at any hour,” Donna says. “To say that she will be missed simply doesn’t cut it.”

  • John

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope that sharing the story of it will help ease your pain. Thank you for sharing it.

  • Rachel

    I am so moved by this reflection on Kathy’s life and humanity. My heart is going out to you and all of her other friends, including Spotty.

  • Lisa

    Thank you for sharing this insightful message. It helps to ease the pain. Kathy is missed by those she´s touched.

  • H. Daniel Flores


  • Ilenia

    Thaks Donna, and so sorry !!!
    Oh god take her …

  • Cathy Moore

    Donna, what a moving story. I don’t think that I ever met Kathy, but certainly heard of her. I’m so sorry that you had to write this, as I’m sure you’ve been going through so much recently. I’m sorry for Spotty, too. Just such a sad situation all around

  • Mary Claire Sorensen


    Thanks for sharing this – I knew Kathy in high school and have so many fun memories of her. I lost touch with her and saw her for the last time about 7 – 10 years ago. she was a teacher of life and a friend and always produced a smile on my face when I spent time with her. She will be missed and the world will miss her. I know she had struggles in her life, but she was one of the strongest people I knew – I guess until the end of her life. I feel lucky that she was part of my journey.

    Much love and peace Kathy – Mary Claire

  • Ared

    So sorry for your loss. Its a shame that your friend felt that taking her life was the only way to end her suffering. May she Rest in Peace!

  • Jill M Johnson

    Kathy Johnson is my sister. This is a beautiful article, Donna, and you have been wonderful to my family, thank you.

  • Jill M Johnson

    Kathy Johnson is my sister. This is a beautiful article, Donna, you have been so wonderful to my family, thank you. I am sorry for ur loss as well.

  • Nan Otey

    Kathy’s sister Jill is one of my dearest best friends. I knew Kathy years ago when we were all kids. I cant tell you the sadness this makes me feel , as I truly love this family. My thoughts an prayers are with you. I love you, Jill. I am so sorry you and your family are going through this. Xo. (((Hugs)))

  • Anne Tucker

    Donna this was a moving tribute. Love to you and Kathy’s family who were all special to me growing up. Most of my memories of Kathy were from Camp Lakewood where we were camp counselors. Such a gentle spirit with a sense of humor that slays me to just think about. RIP Kathy.