One year ago this weekend, we had a house full of family, and more family and friends in hotels, here to celebrate Karen’s life. We had a beautiful service on a dreary Saturday, which she didn’t want, and a well-attended, very fun party outside on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, which she very much wanted. It didn’t occur to me that all of that was a year ago this weekend until this morning, so I didn’t spend all day yesterday crying. It remains to be seen how I spend today.
Other people tell me when Karen visits them in their dreams, especially if they hear her voice. I’m always jealous, because if she’s in my dreams, I don’t remember it. Well, last night she was! I was so excited that I woke up and made sure I would remember. I almost got up then (at 1AM) to come out here to type this, to make sure I didn’t forget! Maybe I should have, because 5 hours later, the details are a little fuzzy. I do remember being very happy, because in my dream, I didn’t have to mourn, because for some reason, Karen could come back (and be alive) every so often. Oh, if only that were true!!! But I got to see her and talk to her, and I wasn’t sad.
Karen’s cousin’s wedding was fun – Karen would have loved it, except for the heat. The bride was beautiful, the groom was handsome, the setting was gorgeous. We did a mini bone marrow registration drive, and 14 people signed up to be donors! Everybody stayed in the same hotel, and we spent lots of time with family, which I always love. A word of advice… when you are taking a party of 15 to a restaurant, make a reservation first. But then you don’t have as much to laugh about later.
Our visit with our old neighbors was great, as usual. Their group gets smaller each year, as their kids go off to college and don’t come home for the summer. We went to DC and saw the Burning Man exhibit at the Renwick Gallery. A friend of Matt’s had gone to see it, and told him about the Temple, where you can leave memorials to people. The friend was planning to leave one for Karen, and saw one that somebody else had already left for her. The room was HUGE, and there were memorial “cards” everywhere – it’s amazing that Matt’s friend saw another one for Karen. I remembered Karen, David, and Dean while I was there – all three of them were adventurers who would have enjoyed the Burning Man experience we learned about.
Before Matt went back to school, we went to our favorite Japanese restaurant, where they cook the food on the hibachi grill in front of you. Karen had joined their “birthday club” where they send you a postcard around your birthday, and you can get a free meal. The last time we went there was for her birthday last year. When the postcard came, I cried (who’s surprised?) but I also decided that we were going to go back, and pay for somebody’s meal as a way to celebrate Karen. When Karen and Matt were little we went for a hike one day, and went out to eat afterwards. When it was time to pay, our waitress said that somebody else had paid our bill. We were very surprised, and we chose somebody else and paid their bill. So we sat at the Japanese restaurant and looked around, trying to pick somebody. I’m sure the other people at the table with us thought I was crazy, because every so often through the meal, I would wipe my eyes and probably look very sad. Who does that while they’re out at a restaurant?? The mom who was there with her two kids was very surprised when she didn’t get a bill for their meal. We told her we had paid their bill, but didn’t explain why. Maybe next time I’ll be more able to deal with that part.
Spread some joy around.
I’m Karen. I was originally diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in August 2004 when I was 10 years old. When I was working on my college and scholarship application essays two years ago, I wrote about my journey. Although it was a rough few years, it became such an influential part of my life that I can’t, and wouldn’t want to, imagine my life without having had cancer. I called it the worst best thing that ever happened to me.