Tribute to Kate Purdy, Friend of EMDR

–a True Goddess (Woman of God), a Hoot, a Dynamic Business Woman/Designer/ Jeweler, and above all, a True Friend

by Dana Terrell

kate200It has taken time to be able to write this inevitable tribute to such an inspiring woman and dear, sweet friend.  For one thing, this website and this entire passion of mine to spread the word about EMDR would not have been born in 2006 without Kate’s shining example as a web designer and graphic designer (she was also an award-winning jewelry designer).  The most heart-breaking thing is that Kate’s passing in September came as a shock barely a month after the passing of her dear husband, and our sweet friend, Nick, from cancer.

Coincidentally, she passed while I was at the EMDRIA Conference in Austin.  She had been in a coma in ICU for 10 days already (visitors not allowed) and was expected to die following a massive heart attack and strokes. I was wearing the beautiful butterfly necklace she made for me.  It was a way to stay connected with Kate. She gave it to me just before I went to the EMDRIA conference in 2007 to offer a booth about our growing websites to spread the word about EMDR.  This year wearing her necklace reminded me to send her love and prayers, throughout my trip.

Kate was a deeply spiritual woman.  I met her at a group of spiritual business people who wanted to connect with other like-minded people. We all wanted to turn business into a spiritual activity.  This was quite a revolution and a support for me, because I always viewed business as “suspect, selfish, and greedy.”  I wanted to avoid it.  (I’ve since learned that most therapists look at business and marketing that way, which becomes an obstacle for them, like it did for me.) Now we were practicing business as “service.”

Kate volunteered to create a website so it would be easy for us to find and refer to each other.  This was a nice, kind and generous offer, and of course we all agreed.  But when we saw the fine care that went into her design (which was nothing short of exquisite) and the usefulness of the site, I was in a state of awe.  In that open state, creative ideas started bubbling in my mind.

Since 1997 I have been privileged to be a member of a wonderful, dedicated, generous, competent, kind and supportive group of San Diego EMDR therapists.  Our inspiring, encouraging group was led by example by Liz Snyker, LCSW.  We lost Liz in 2005 to cancer.  This was very difficult loss, too, because we considered Liz the “Mother of EMDR” in San Diego County.  She had a deep effect on a larger group of EMDR therapists, too.  Through her outstanding service to the EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Program, now an Annual Award for the outstanding volunteer to HAP is named after her.

A year after Liz’s passing, I’m seeing Kate’s beautiful example, and thinking that our wonderful therapists are treasures. The world doesn’t yet know about them.  I realized Kate could make a beautiful, fitting EMDR website. It seemed a valuable service to the world to help it discover EMDR and very competent EMDR therapists.  Thus, my two-fold mission was born while I was in this state of inspired awe.

Then the fun began! 

Meeting with Kate to let her knowledge, outstanding good humor, structure and succinctness have a beneficial influence on my serious knowledge of trauma and EMDR, enthusiasm and verbosity was a joyous event, each time.  And each time her gentle husband Nick made a bowl of his famous guacamole. Thus, we had sustenance for our creative digestion of thought and vision, easing it’s way into a blueprint that made sense to a public who may be finding EMDR for the first time.

She created the first site:  San Diego EMDR.  Within a couple of years, we were getting requests from other cities and states to create something similar for them.  I wanted a butterfly for our logo for a couple of reasons: 1)  It is a symbol of transformation, from a stuck crysalis to a free-flying and beautiful being, and 2) EMDR has a variation called the “Butterfly Hug.”  She came up with a butterfly design that was special, because it was made up of the two halves of the brain.  “Very appropro for EMDR,” she said.  See the link to the beautiful site she designed:

At that point, Kate said,  “you need to have websites with content management systems, which is not my specialty.”  She unselfishly referred me to another web designer for that stage of our development of individually localized EMDR websites.  At this point we are at the 3rd generation of development with one mega site with local sub-directories, and a 3rd web designer who has that specialty.  As you will see, our current website can be accessed through the original site.

Kate remained my consultant when I had questions about how things are going and what might work better.  Plus, she continued to be the graphic designer who created beautiful, clear and simple materials to introduce people to EMDR.

Just this past May, she and I were co-creating a basic little info card on EMDR.  I wanted the info to fit onto a business card.  Kate of course new that was impossible for all the text I gave her.  She recommended a folding business card, and helped hack out even more unnecessary text.  She dubbed the card an “elevator card” in reference for the short “elevator speech” that business people have been trained to prepare, to explain their service in a 15 second opportunity meeting a new person in an elevator.

As any EMDR therapist knows, it is nearly impossible to describe EMDR adequately in 15 seconds.  However, to be able to hand Kate’s EMDR elevator card is a completely satisfying experience.  I asked her if she had ever heard this term before:  an “elevator card.”  She said “no, it just seemed like a good idea.” Thus, I had a fresh experience of witnessing her marketing genius. 

Interestingly, it was my fear of marketing a private practice that led me to EMDR in the first place. 

When that fear was overcome in 2 sessions, I knew I had to get the EMDR training!  EMDR removed all fear, but it is Kate who revealed to me how fun, creative and satisfying marketing can be when you infuse spirituality and service into it.  Now I actually love marketing EMDR and over 100 EMDR therapists to the world.  I’m deeply grateful for her example.

Her friendship is the most special thing, however.

My husband and I enjoyed going to church and outings to restaurants with Kate and Nick.  Both were gentle, humble, and spiritually enthusiastic.  Their humor was a delight – an undercurrent fueled by their sweet joy.  I loved their enthusiasm for the spiritual life, for meditation, for sharing with others in little acts of spontaneous generosity.  For example, Kate told us that Nick bought “Where there is Light,” by Paramahansa Yoganada (not his guru) 10 copies at a time and handed them out to people.  Kate estimated he had probably given away 200 copies.

Nick told me last spring that he was ready to die, and welcomed it.  He was sincere and enthusiastic about being in Heaven with God and his Guru and many great ones there. But he couldn’t tell Kate, because she wasn’t ready at all.  She was working hard to help him recover and thrive.  And he cooperated with her loving ideas and plans.  It looked like he had an excellent response to the major surgery he underwent to remove the tumor around his kidney.  We were all relieved and happy for both of them.

But in July I received an email from Kate updating the doctors news that the cancer had spread to 4 organs and Nick would only have 9 months to live with chemo and 3 months to live without.  He had chosen to forego chemo.  She was honoring that request, and focusing now on helping him have a very peaceful and spiritual passing.  That email came on August 14.  I called her she said they had been having hard time adjusting to the news, and she is ready to share it with me, but asked if I could spread the word to others so she doesn’t need to break the news, which was so painful for her.  Once the news was broken, she could talk to people just fine.  I agreed, and planned to meet with them that weekend.

The next day I got an email from Kate:  “Nick passed away peacefully this afternoon.”

I called and learned the inspiring details from her.  She felt a deep satisfaction that he was in no pain, so she felt no need to call in Hospice.  He was looking up to the spiritual eye the last hour of his life, deeply peaceful and unblinking.

As the weeks went by, she continued to feel that way.  She felt she was doing pretty well, and had moved through the last weeks in a “clean and clear” way.  She wanted to meet with Romel Hokanson and I for regular “Goddess” dinners at her favorite restaurant, the Lotus Thai in Hillcrest.  There she told us that she has no desire to go back to either of her businesses (graphic design and jewelry design).  Once Nicks second service at our church would be given, she wanted to take 3 months off to go on retreat and decide what to do for the rest of her life.

Now I realize that was a gentle forewarning that I would need to learn to live without my dependence on Kate.

I learned that on the day of her massive heart attack, when her friend Maggie accompanied her to the hospital in the ambulance and through the day at the hospital, Kate told Maggie these significant words:  “Just let me go.”  I found this comforting, because it told me Kate knew what was going on, she had no fear, she was ready.”

Kate and Nick were deeply close.  Kate had a difficult year, losing her Mother and Nick.  She told me right after Nick’s passing:  “I’ve lost two people who loved me unconditionally.”  I told her, “You will now be discovering how many people love you unconditionally.”

I am proud and grateful to be one of the many who knew Kate well enough to love her unconditionally.