This podcast is personal, and not just because you’ll hear me doing what I love best: I get to guide my dear friend Kiki through the true stories of her unbelievably storied life.
We never met at Carleton College, where I graduated in 1992, but Kiki Kelley ’93 and I unknowingly crossed paths in unusual ways.
For example: I quote her indirectly but pointedly in German Awakening, without knowing that the project I reference was Kiki’s brain child.
We sang different years in the same ensemble (she was in the Chamber Singers first) and even had a roommate in common (my sophomore year roommate went off to Asia and fell out of touch)! Kiki and I met decades later on Facebook. Of course. But we got to know each other through my 25th Reunion.
That’s when I learned that Kiki was seriously ill in college, beginning her junior year, out of commission and visiting doctors half the time, otherwise living her life at full tilt. Soon after graduation Kiki ALMOST DIED.
We’re talking 2% chance of survival and — when she miraculously made it — a permanent (invisible) disability.
Also, while living with this condition, Kiki was one of the first Teach for America fellows, worked side by side with Sheryl Sandburg at Google, and later became the team leader for USA wrestling. Among other things. Like becoming a mom, which she was told was impossible too. See, Kiki decided that as long as she was alive, she’d live the bucket list items a lot of us take for granted we’ll check off “someday.”
And I’m proud that Kiki chose me to help her tell these stories, a bucket list item if ever there was one. Understand, this isn’t just about my friend Kiki. It’s about helping people like me see what we don’t know about people like Kiki, who live with invisible illness everyday. Far more importantly, this podcast is for Kiki’s fellow survivors, to show that there’s hope. And it’s for humans of all kinds to let them know — to let all of us know — we’re not alone.
After all, if we never move beyond commonalities, how will we ever see each other? Our first season, Teach for America Saved My Life, is live now.
We invite you to listen in. And let us know what you think. We may quote you. (We’ll use your first name.)