Monday, May 12, 2008

So, How Was Mother's Day?

So, how was Mother's Day? It was gentle and sweet, for me: the boys and I took a long walk on the beach, had a bit of lunch at a funky country store, visited Katie's bench (and saw the plaque as it should be), came home to have dinner with Gregg's parents. I received lovely cards and emails. Gregg barbecued a delicious dinner for us. He and I took another little walk after dinner, and were talking about alot of things.

I was thinking yesterday that my last memories of Katie are hard ones. Even though we had some relatively good times mixed in, all of the last 10 months of her life were in some way shadowed by cancer. We got very close, and were bonded in a beautiful way that was deep and rich and real, but it was through a crisis, somewhat as I imagine a wartime bond with fellow soldiers would be. I miss Katie, I miss helping her, doing anything with her, but I realize that I don't have good memories of just being with her at easy access in my mind. They have to be seen through the filter of her last 10 months, or I have to close off those memories and reach back to her younger days; it's nearly impossible to do that. My memory is full of trauma scenes. I am not joking about this. It is rich with enough trauma pictures to knock me down. I have to wind my way through these images to find ones I can rest with, or just breathe through the trauma ones, like in childbirth-Lamaze.

Have you ever seen photographs of the houses in London that were hit during the blitz of WWII? That's what my memories look like, now. I have to wade in through the broken pieces, the shards, twisted things and spots that are still burning, to see if anything is left whole, and what is salvageable. I have to go through the hell of it to find what is left in the smoking ruins of the life that I once loved and enjoyed with my sweet family of four.

I don't want to shy away from any of it, because it is sacred; it is all that I have left of Katie, but it hurts. I want to remember my beautiful, sparkly, sharp, funny, challenging girl. I see so many hard, sad scenes all mixed in with the good memories. It is difficult to carry it all. I refuse to pick and choose, at this point, so I have to endure the pain to have the beauty. I am beginning to suspect that that may be the story of this life (here on earth), anyway.

When I got into bed last night, the memories started to float across the screen of my mind. I ended up having a nightmare about Katie being in surgery again. In the dream, I was wondering why we were doing this to her, with no hope of cure and only a short time left for her to live. She came through the dream-surgery, but there was a mix-up in there, and she lost part of her foot. In the dream, I was trying to comfort her; she was furious, and refused to be comforted, or to look at it any other way than to be angry (which was appropriate). This is the first time that I have had such a dream. It was not pleasant, but at least it was simply a dream. I wonder what it means, and why I dreamed it now?

Maybe it is a flashback to this: Last July, when we were told that Katie's new tumor was inoperable, we asked the team if there was anything they could do to help her. They told us that we could take her to the U of W for radiation treatment, five days a week. For what purpose? To reduce the amount of bone pain (from the cancer in her bones). The times that she had been to the U of W for scans, she had commented that she was so glad that she wasn't having her treatment there. With no disrespect to that facility, it isn't a cheerful hospital, by comparison to Children's. To make her travel on the ferry and in the car for treatment that wouldn't save her life, and that would produce more unpleasant side effects, felt unkind to do to her. Having access to pain medicine at home, through hospice, seemed to us to be a better solution for Katie. We declined the radiation treatments.

So many memories, so many sad things to process. They just seep out of memory and into my conscious mind, and some days, it's just too hard to do more than stay at home. I pray that I can let them rise gently to the surface, let God hold me through this space, and let go of the pain. Keep the memory, but let go of the trauma. I do not want to become a bitter, toxic person. I want Katie's legacy to be the strength, beauty, joy and spunk that she exuded in her life. And I want to live with an inner spirit that is healthy and able to help carry that legacy for her.


KBL 2 ORD 2 SAN said...

Is that beautiful Katie I see running with a (GASP) Golden Retriever?!!! Another reason for my affection for your very own Golden angel.

You were in our thoughts this weekend. I hoped that the vibes may have reached you over the miles. God bless your child.

Karla W. said...

I don't know about you, but from the time I found out I was pregnant with Mandi I had several pictures in my head/heart of how her life would be from begining to middleage. My siser found out she was pregnant with her second baby shortly after I was. We would've had them two months apart.

In April (of '93) Robbie miscarried. That same week Mandi's biological father left the picture. I was so afraid that I would loose her too. I hadn't even seen her face or held her hand and I couldn't imagine my life without her.

You are amazing and wonderful and kind and loving and compassionate and driven and strong and fun. I can only imagine all you've been through this year and yet you are so graceful and giving and full of life, not merely existing.

I don't remember where I was going with this. I'm glad you survived Mother's day. :)

Love Karla

Michelle said...

I had the same experiences as you after my mom died trying to remember the good memories. It took a while but now the year we spent fighting her cancer is just a gray memory. All my good memories of her as a mother have over stepped that last year.

It takes a while, but it will happen. Just look to God and your family to help you through it all. It can be painful at times but it does get better.

Glad to hear you made it thru Mother's day.

Smileygirl said...

The devastation you faced through the cancer was bitter and toxic, that would NEVER be you. Please know that you are not alone in your feelings and in time you will start to remember the more pleasant moments of the past. I've been meaning to email you about this when I have some time to sit with my thoughts on this. I can relate to what you're saying (you are so in touch and in tune with every emotion you are feeling and that itself is healing) and will share this with you privately.

The pictures of Katie are gorgeous. Her face just draws you in like a magnet. So stunning.

karengberger said...

Thank you, Blogger friends, for your encouraging words. You brighten my days!

Patty Grubb said...

sorry karen - i haven't been able to post on anyone's blog this a.m. this post truly touches me right where i'm at right now. i keep seeing kelly those last months of her life, the last days, the last hours and just can't seem to get past that. i'm not having regrets about any of it, just seems that those are the only memories at the forefront right now. others have told me these fade and are replaced with the beautiful memories. i will be grateful when that happens. it is so painful to remember kelly at the end of her life, fighting so hard, bearing indignities and us witnessing those indignities. we ride the waves of grief, praying for them to brand the heart of Jesus on our hearts.........what other purpose matters? or makes sense?
must go make lunch, could talk about this on and on.