Friday, June 20, 2008

My First Meme

Just Believe tagged me with a meme recently, and it's my first time. No jokes, please.

Here is how it goes: Think back on the last 15 years of your life. What would you tell someone that you hadn't seen or talked to for 15 years? How would you sum up your life? You get 10 bullet points. A list of 10 things to summarize you. At the end of your list, tag 5 more people and send on the love.

1. Fifteen years ago, in 1993, I had been married to Gregg for 2 years, and was very, very happy with him (still am). I was a new mother, and nearly 34 years old; David was 6 months old. I quit my job in Public Finance just before he was born, which was a big adjustment. I was working one day a week, at my family's business in Bellevue. It was a long commute, but it got me out of the house, using my brain, and I earned a bit of money. I also did bookkeeping for my grandmother (paying her bills).

2. We lived in a little spec-house on Hood Canal at that time. We loved the view of the Olympic Mountains so much, and the oysters and sandy beach out in front. It was a lifelong dream of mine to live by the water, as we had lived in our summer cabin when I was a little girl. Gregg and I felt this was a wonderful place to have a family.

3. I went through a spiritual crisis, after David was born via Caesarian section. Being raised as a Christian Scientist, having surgery was a HUGE shock to me, and it really rocked my world. I spent alot of time and energy trying to figure out what the heck had happened. After Katie was born (the traditional way, not Caesarian) in 1995, a dear friend and mentor of mine passed away. I had to look outside of the paradigm for answers, and began to attend a conservative Christian Bible study. Bible study led to a "conversion" experience for me; I joined a Presbyterian church, decided to be baptized, and have our children baptized, too. I am not a conservative Christian, so I ended up quitting that Bible study class, but I got a great deal from it and loved the hearts of the women in it. I joined a more wide-ranging Bible class at my church.

4. We traveled to Europe (France and Italy) twice -- with my parents, without the kids. Wonderful, exciting, fun, thrilling adventures to share with Gregg, Mom and Dad. Gregg and I both love to travel, and we discovered on these trips that we travel really well as a pair. Fantasies of retirement travels began to develop...We also go to Palm Desert annually with the children to visit my parents in the wintertime.

5. I quit my jobs (working for my family business and grandmother), and got a job working at an executive search and outplacement firm, as the bookkeeper, and then the finance manager. I worked 2 days a week, could walk to the office from the ferry in downtown Seattle, and loved the freedom, autonomy and the income.

6. During this time, we decided that our house was getting pretty small for the four of us, so we bought a piece of property on the other side of town, facing east, on Puget Sound. We sold our house on Hood Canal, and began to build the house in which we now live. While doing this, we moved into a rental house that my mother still calls "le dungeon." Not a great place, but the only thing we could find with 3 bedrooms and a yard. We were subsequently swindled by our builder, fired them, and had to sue them to get the court to overturn the [false] lien that they put on our house. Then we had to borrow from Gregg's 401K to continue building. We hired a new builder and spent our weekends working on the house. Major strain on both of us.

7. My maternal grandmother passed away at 96 years of age on January 10, 2000. Her legacy helped us to repay our 401K loan and finish the house, and allowed me to quit my job. We moved into our house in March. Gregg's aunt and uncle (his mother's twin brother) were killed by a drunk driver in a car accident the night before Father's Day. Horrendous and shattering. A double funeral.

8. After completing 6 months of training, I became a Stephen Minister at my church. Went on my first Women's Retreat in 2001 and met my Quad Sisters. On September 12th of 2001, Gregg and I were planning to take our first trip to Europe together by ourselves, to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. I was excited to go, but felt uneasy about it all summer long. During the night of September 10-11th, I had a nightmare of a ball of fire rolling down the aisle of the business-class cabin of our plane. I awoke, terrified, in the middle of the night and thought, How am I going to board that plane on the 12th? And then the 11th dawned, and changed our world. I was terrified for months. I ended up having a partial hysterectomy, instead of a trip to Europe.

9. I began Spiritual Direction and studied the writings of many new spiritual teachers. Learned about contemplative prayer, Buddhism, Catholicism and mysticism. Took up Pilates and tried the South Beach Diet. Formed an informal supper club with two other couples. Enjoyed more independence and loved my job as a stay-at-home wife and mother immensely. Volunteered at my kids' schools. Fought with the school district over boundaries and teacher issues. Volunteered to help with teacher awards and school funding. Walked alongside my friend Diane as she dealt with terminal cancer and passed away.

10. In October of 2006, during her first weeks of attending a new, private school, my beautiful, strong, healthy daughter Katie was diagnosed with cancer...adrenocortical carcinoma, very rare and very advanced. The four of us moved to Seattle, and lived at Ronald McDonald House and Children's Hospital with her. She endured 5 rounds of chemo and an 18-hour surgery, 6 weeks of recovery and was able to return home with us in April of 2007. She tried her best to pick up her life, attending the Hutch School (named for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center) with David, taking a maintenance chemo medication and going frequently to the Hem-Onc clinic to be monitored. The summer was up and down, with the "up" being Camp Goodtimes and Andrea and Mike's wedding; the downs were her moods, her fatigue and soreness. The bottom was finding out that her cancer was back, and was terminal. She passed away on August 16, 2007. We have been trying to learn to live without her presence since then. We have also started an Endowment in her name at the hospital, and we spoke at a benefit over the summer; between those two things, we helped raise over $160,000 for Children's Hospital. I now make quilts for the patients in the Hematology-Oncology ward. We are grieving, and we are living the life that we have been given, with as much love and gratitude as we can.

I will tag Sheri, Karla, Diane W. , Laurie and Susie. I hope you have fun with this; I did!

5 comments:

Sheri said...

You are such a special friend, such an amazing woman. I loved reading this. You know I will love being one of the "tagged", attention ho and writer that I am. I just kind of put the timeline together and realized that I lived in Tacoma from 1992-1994. Guess we weren't meant to "meet" yet at that time!

I thoroughly enjoyed this small glimpse into your life. :hug:

Dreamer girl said...

Wow, I cannot believe all that you have done and experienced. 160 thousand dollars- wonderful. Condolences on your friend. I lost my Aunt and bestfriend last year to breast cancer. Hope you are having a wonderful summer.
When school starts again next year, I would like my students to help with your organization. Let me know how we can help.

The Engine of the Family said...

Thanks for sharing your life Karen - it was good to get to know more!

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

This was amazing to read, Karen - what a rich life you have led in the past 15 years. I really loved hearing about your spiritual journey.

You are a special woman and Gregg and your children are so lucky to have you in their lives! :-)

Smileygirl said...

I loved the last sentence you wrote in #10. Thinking of you and will be in touch my sweet friend.