It’s been a while since I wrote anything here, and I’ve been getting signs from Karen that it’s time. There was an email from a friend with a picture of the sign at their local Mexican restaurant. There was a butterfly on my walk the other day, and it’s getting kind of late for butterflies here. There was a message from one of Karen’s oldest friends (all the way back to first grade!) that she got engaged. And there was a word game where the daily puzzle answer was “taco.” So here I am. (a note: I didn’t post this the day I originally wrote it – I wasn’t happy with it, or something. This morning, there was another sign from Karen to get moving… A food truck drove by that said “TACO TRUCK” on it. It was a happy day in Karen’s life when the food trucks at Drexel took payment methods other than cash!)
This weekend there is a 5k race at UMD that’s a fundraiser for the Hebda Foundation. They asked Karen to speak at their gala one year. It was during a remission, and she was at school in Philadelphia most of the time. She didn’t want to come home an extra weekend to speak, so they made a video instead. On the day of the filming, we came home from somewhere to a house full of video and sound equipment. It was QUITE a production. Now I’m so happy to have this video, so I can see her and hear her anytime I want to. http://hebdafoundation.org/why-we-exist
I used to tease Karen sometimes, and tell her that we were going to have a potluck dinner at a firehall for her wedding reception. My mother went to a potluck wedding reception, and she said it was wonderful. Once when we were getting the oil changed in the car, this random person in the waiting room started telling us about the local fire station’s social hall, recently rebuilt after a fire (yes, a fire at the fire station) and how nice it was. He went on at some length, saying it was so nice, you didn’t even realize it was the firehall. Of course, I told Karen we had found her wedding venue. She was very good about it (at least to my face) probably because she wasn’t anywhere near getting married, and probably because she knew I was joking. The recently engaged friend told me that she wants to honor Karen somehow at her wedding. I had lots of (mostly bad) ideas, which I didn’t share, but I’ll list them here. Tie dye bridesmaid dresses, or tablecloths/napkins, or bride’s veil. Castle cake incorporated into the wedding cake, or let the guests decorate their own cupcakes. Tacos for dinner. Or the more traditional, pictures of those who are gone too soon, which is what the recently married family members have done.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Last year, when I could see Karen’s Facebook page, I could see all of the posts about it. This year, I was relieved not to see it – I’m well aware of childhood cancer, and I already have too many reminders. Camp Sunrise lost another camper this week. I don’t know anything about this child, but I know that there is another family who lost their little girl too soon. I wish I could do something for them, but there isn’t much that helps. I have a book that somebody gave us, that I have given to others. A friend sent us some booklets about coping with grief, which arrived at various times after Karen passed away. I appreciated them so much that I’ve purchased some myself and sent them to family, friends, and people I’ve never met. These things help, but only so much.
I still miss Karen, I still talk to her most days, and I still cry (frequently!) I started a word game with a random person named Karen S, and eventually I told her why. Strangely, she also lost her daughter, but many years ago. It’s so depressing, how many of us there are.
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.