Kate Svitek Memorial Foundation
Kate Svitek Memorial Foundation

From Loved Ones & Friends

Letter from Andi Kravitz

Dear Ellen,

I’ve done a lot of thinking after Kate’s death because I really wanted to try to remember everything. I am telling you this because for weeks after Kate’s accident, I struggled to come up with a way to give Kate something that belonged to me so that she could keep it with her forever. I would view a web page with her picture every day and just look at her and wish I could reach out and hold her hand. I would have wanted to tell her that some of the best memories from when I was younger were of our time spent together.

As I sat down to write to you, Ellen, all of the missing pieces fell into place. I want to share with you what I would have liked to give to Kate had I had the opportunity. To you I want to give all of our good times together and all of the little things that we found so exciting as children. I find comfort in the fact that I may bring a smile to your face even for a brief moment and that Kate may see that smile. My mom told me that you visit Kate’s grave very often, and it would be so amazing if you could take this and just share some of it with Kate.

I want to paint a picture of what a typical day at the Here to Stay Farm looked like for Kate and I: I would come over and we would sit outside your house, maybe underneath the big tree that has a swing hanging on it, with Morgan or Mandy. I think that I can confidently say that Kate and I also spent hours crouched by the creek to the left of your driveway on the lookout for crayfish. We used to try to catch the really big ones – we would always get so excited when we found one as we scooped them up with a cup so we could just get a closer look before we sent them back to their home. Kate always found the really big ones; she was so great at spotting them. I think I was a little scared that they would bite my finger, but Kate was always able to get them out of the creek and into a cup so that I could see before we put them all back into the creek. This activity went on for, I would say, four years or so!

However, I must tell you that the adventures went far beyond the creek and the crayfish. One activity that I told you about that we loved was playing cops and robbers. Kate and I played with Michael and his friends like it was our job. We LOVED being the robbers because we eventually had the hiding down to a science. Picture this, Ellen: Michael and his friend counting down from 60 while Kate and I bolted for the barn where we gathered every piece of rope or any cords we could find. We quickly ran into one of the horse sties and slid the door closed. Meanwhile, we would hear Michael and his friend nearing the number 1 in his countdown so we knew we would have to work quickly if we wanted to be successful. Anyway, Kate and I ALWAYS secured ourselves into the sty by the time Michael had finished his countdown. Then, we would jump behind the haystacks and sit there quietly as Mike and his friend ran around looking for us.

I do remember one specific time that Kate and I hid behind the haystacks for close to an hour. I hesitate to say that we hid in silence because we were rarely at a loss for words! We wound up crouched behind the haystacks whispering about how we were the masters at hiding and wondering when exactly we would be discovered. However, even when our hiding spot was found we were practically unreachable b/c of our knot-typing skills. Even though Kate and I chose to hide in the same spot practically every time we played cops and robbers, we always thought it was so much fun. We definitely knew how to entertain ourselves.

Speaking of adventures, although I don’t know if this is as much an adventure or just a great memory, I so vividly recall standing above the pig pen with Kate looking down into the messy pen as the pigs looked up at us oinking. The two of us would just laugh as they ran around squealing. Anyway, we had eaten pizza for dinner this specific night and Kate told me that whatever we didn’t eat we could feed to the pigs. I couldn’t believe it! So, after eating as much as we could, Kate and I walked back to the pigpen and threw in our leftovers from dinner, which consisted mostly of crust and cold cheese. As we threw the scraps to the pigs, they gleefully ran around in the mud oinking with happiness as they chewed up our crust. I can’t help but laugh as I picture this – I can visualize exactly where we stood laughing, looking down at the squealing pigs. I will never forget that night.

I could go on about the endless nights of playing Frisbee baseball, picking berries off of your trees, going to Dorney Park with Kate and Frank, sitting above the greenhouse, ice skating on the pond, or being awakened by Mandy licking my face when I slept over. However, these experiences I have shared with you are some of the ones that stick out the most in my mind.

Kate was a very special person in my life. She taught me so many things about nature and animals, and made me feel right at home within weeks of my moving to a new neighborhood and school. Although Kate and I grew apart over the years, believe me when I say that my memories of the time Kate and I spent together growing up have always been special to me. I remember running into Kate when she was working at the Glen Center Pharmacy during my senior year of high school. I really looked up to her because she was already in the middle of her first year at UVM experiencing all of the fun of college. Although that was the last time I did see Kate, I feel like I have been seeing her everyday since February in my mind. I think of her in practically everything that I do.

When I opened my jewelry box here at school, I had a memory. I don’t know if you will remember this, but I certainly do – I looked into one of the small velvet-lined areas in it and saw a gold ring with a small diamond and a blue stone – my birthstone. This was your gift to me for my Bat Mitzvah. I remember exactly where I was when Kate gave it to me – we were standing in your kitchen right by the sink and Kate said to you, "Mom, I want to give it to Andi now, I can’t wait until her Bat Mitzvah!" and of course I was excited. So, while at your house, Kate gave me what was probably my first Bat Mitzvah gift and I wore it the day of my service. I have kept it with me and worn it throughout college, but I think that this summer I’m going to have it sized for a different finger so that I can wear it more often than when I get dressed up. It will be a constant reminder of someone who was very special in my life.

I am hoping that I am able to offer you some kind of comfort in knowing that Kate is living on in my mind – I know that I will never let go of what I do have. In my mind, she will always be one of my best friends from childhood. I’ll always think of your farm as a place that I looked forward to visiting everyday after school or camp; I’ll always have the image of Kate as the curly-haired girl who I would meet up with at the bottom of my street to walk the rest of the way to the bus stop in the morning before school; and I’ll always think of all of Kate’s accomplishments and know that she certainly made her mark on the world.


Andi Kravitz


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