1961 - 2008



A Summary of What is Known

From Karen's friend Shannon:
(Begin Shannon) I received an email from Kathy informing me that Karen had died. Karen and I are old high school friends from Granite City. I forwarded that email to another high school friend in our group, Laura McCann, who said that Karen had planned to visit her at the SIU-E campus that day. Later I called Karen's house and spoke with an aunt as well as her mother. The aunt said that Larry, Karen's American veteran friend, and Karen had talked and that Karen said she was going to sleep. Later, Karen's mom went to wake her up (you know how Karen liked to sleep) and didn't think anything of it when Karen didn't wake up. Later, she tried to wake Karen up and got closer in her wheelchair. She immediately knew that something was wrong and went outside looking for a neighbor to help. By the time the ambulance came, rigor mortis had already set in. An autopsy was done, but I haven't heard about the results. (End Shannon)

From Karen's Aunt Gloria
(Begin Gloria) As of 12/2 the police still have Karen's belongings. They say they don't release them until the results of the autopsy are in. I was told this would take 6 to 8 weeks. It has been 6 weeks now so should be anytime.
A stroke, heart attack, or aneurysm would have been obvious in the preliminary autopsy findings and I was told by the coroner that they didn't find any of this. There was no evidence of suicide and I believe it was an accidental overdose of something.
The Laughlin Funeral Home in Troy, Il. handled the cremation and Karen's remains are laid to rest in a niche at the Sunset Hills Memorial Estates in Edwardsville, Il.
Paulette, I hope this information is helpful. As soon as her personal belongings are released I will let you know. Apparently there are two laptops, a blackberry and her cell phone.
Sincerely, Gloria VB (End Gloria)

My mom even remembers Karen's 'cute little red car' and that's going back a ways! It's a sad truth that since the days of the Triumph Spitfire, Karen, Diki and I all grew increasingly under-tall for our weight. I've heard the lectures, we all did. Diki even has already had cardio events.
The other day when Mom was at the cardiologist she asked about Karen. Diki's theory is that Karen died suddenly from a heart attack. (Karen would want us to say 'cardio infarct'.) Mom thought Doctor Redjai agreed her theory was possible.
Redjai said blood must circulate to create the enzymes that indicate a cardio infarct. If a cardio infarct stops the heart immediately no blood can circulate and no enzymes are formed. The only way to discover such an event is an autopsy of the heart. He gave Diki the impression that an 'autopsy of the heart' was something over and above an everyday 'autopsy'.
Subsequently I had an off-hours discussion with an ER nurse who claimed the autopsy could miss a clue or two. It's possible Karen had a cardio event or stroke or aneurysm or some such.

Karen Rene Hornback
1961 - 2008
Tuesday, January 17th - Sunday, October 19th
If the above doesn't link to Karen's Virtual Memorial, please try to type or paste ' virtual-memorials.com ' (without marks or spaces) into your browser. Look to the right for a place to enter first and last name. Also available is Karen's obituary from the funeral home.

Examples of Karen's wit: Ambulancing, Blogging, and preparing for her Dream Wedding.
Although written in an autobiographical style, Karen admitted to writing fiction. (Although the accounts of medical emergencies in ambulancing are probably all from calls she or one of her associates responded to.) . . . She thrived on thrills. . . . And she did have a thing for Emma Peel.

Examples of my grief:

I am not at all prepared! Could I ever be? . . . Shocked and stunned! . . . Benumbed! . . . Imperfectly benumbed. A great hurt felt only bit-by-bit. . . . O Karen! I miss you acutely! Always will I rue the loss of our conjoint future. Weren't we yet to have decades to argue with, annoy, amuse, appreciate and animate one other? Diis aliter visum. You have been torn from me! I hurt deeply!

Karen was my oldest (longest term, I mean!) and best friend. There is a big hole in my heart. Even though we lived time zones apart, we had frequent telephone and email contact and maintained a shared communication on matters both trivial and profound.

In September 2008 Karen came to visit me and we took a trip down the coast to Oregon. It was a rich and full experience, playful and intense, the mundane and sacred freely intermingling in our interaction. We had conflicts during the trip and got to examine our stuff. We challenged and forgave each other. We became even closer if that is possible.

I lost my best friend. My compass. My touchstone.

I miss Karen!!!

The oldest email from Karen in my imperfect archive is 1997. We used email little in those days. It couldn't handle the content. We both spent a fair amount on long distance!
Indeed that was a tough time for me. I was broke, between jobs, and navigating the end of my marriage and another gross betrayal that cost a friendship, plus still acutely mourning Gregory.
I suspect Karen can still say nothing about grief save she is sorry we have to have it. Her message:
(Begin Karen)
Hey Paulette!
It's sort of neat that the Rolling Stones are playing a concert in Chicago on September 23, Soldier Field or something.
How are things in Seattle? They'd almost have to be better than the last update I got from you. There's nothing i can say about grief to you, but I'm sorry you have to have it
There's a birthday card I like that says: On your birthday I just want you to know that no matter how old you are, I'll always be younger than you. Alas, I cannot deliver you that message. If you read this on pst then I'm a day off, but Happy Birthday.
(End Karen)[Date: Tue, 23 Sep 1997 01:11:49 -0500]

[20081105] . . . I'm sure I could enjoy the Obama win more if Karen were here to share it. However if Karen were here she undoubtedly would point out these buzz kill items: CA, AZ and FL amended their consitutions to ban gay marriage. In AR, unmarried couples were banned from adopting or fostering children. . . . . .
Also heart breaking: Al Franken appears to have lost the MN US Senate race. (Over 2.4m votes counted and a difference fewer than 500 votes! --will there be a recount?) ...
Like it was news, I'd tell Karen Elizabeth Dole lost her Senate seat but she'd already know it. Further she'd know NH dumped Senator Sununu and then go on to inform me CO defeated an attempt to end affirmative action. . . Chances are good that if Karen were here I would have learned from her that MA and MI both approved pro-cannabis laws. It's also entirely possible that Karen would have told me that CO and SD voters had the opportunity to ban abortion but didn't.
Would the WA 'Death With Dignity' law have been news to her?

It boggles my mind to reflect on what a great friend I had. Yes, Karen did enjoy chiding me and arguing with me and challenging me and even knew ways to annoy me. Except that I was waaaaaaaaaay closer to Karen than I have been to Christine, I'd say Karen and I were like sisters! (Even Diki likened Karen to a 'daughter' back in the early 80s.)

It was truly a sacred relationship. I suppose I appreciate that more as I miss her.

Now I know why Diki remembers Karen's 'cute little red car'! In 1982, Diki visited Saint Louis to celebrate my 21st birthday. She had come to cook a fabulous birthday dinner: lamb, pilaf, and egg beans. (All by myself I remember that part but either I forgot or possibly I didn't know about her grocery trip until her recollection.) Mom drove the Spitfire! Karen let Diki use her Spitfire to drive to Schnucks! Mom laughed and said driving the little car was really different.

Text messages from Karen Hornback:

Abe Lincoln was our first jewish president, just in on the radio- he was shot in the temple.
From: Karen
2008 June 18

my phone is asserting itself. It has labeled you "pending" y me dijo que lo enviar una mensaje -- or at least I think that is what happened
From: Karen
2008 July 18

You know I don't travel much. PA system just warned us that of all things here at ORD, BRIBERY (?!) is illegal. What to do? What to think?
From: Karen
2008 Sept 22 12:04pm

Post brief struggle I prevailed opening the bottled H2O from Manchu Wok. Were I to try the chopsticks at this point I fear good citizens would alert TSA.
From: Karen
2008 Sept 22 12:27pm

I'm flying alaska airlines - which I believe sarah palin owns and is personally flying its flight 23g. If something happens make sure carol knows I luv her
From: Karen
2008 Sept 22 1:16pm

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