Monday, July 7, 2008

The Photo

The photo of Katie that gets the most comments is the one that Paul Dudley took of us just before Andrea and Mike's wedding, last August 2nd, as the girls were all getting dressed and ready to walk down the aisle. It's posted on the right side of the blog.

Katie and I had our wedding clothes and makeup on, and we were relaxing on Chuck and Cheri's (Andrea's parents') bed. Paul told me later that the photo was taken in one 60th of a second. You could call that a "split second." It was a tiny fragment of time, in which we relaxed together, our faces touching, our eyes closed.

I have a copy of that photo by our bed, and it is often the last thing I see before I go to sleep. It stands between two figurines: one of a mother embracing her daughter in the protective circle of her arms, and the other, a woman holding a golden heart over her own heart. These three images form a tableau that speaks more than I can put into words. I feel a deep longing when I look at it: longing for the touch of Katie's skin, her scent, her silky hair that was just growing out again, her sparkly green eyes looking into mine, her beautiful smile, her presence. I miss her joy, but I don't miss her suffering. I wish I could have protected her from the cancer and the suffering; I know I did the best that I could for her. I hold her deeply in my heart as a precious gift.

The closeness that we shared is profound. It doesn't come forth in words, easily. We have always been a close family; the four of us loved to be together. We chose to give up our home and go to live in one room together, rather than be separated during Katie's treatment & recovery. We prefer each other's company to most anyone else's, and always have. But the intimacy of Katie's treatment, surgery and supporting her recovery were different than anything I have ever experienced, even childbirth. It was a unique teamwork situation, and the conditions were unusual. It brought out the best - and sometimes, not the best - in all of us. It brought us closer to one another than ever. And now she is gone. She died two weeks to the day after the photo was taken.

One of our friends asked his daughter what she saw in the photo, and then he answered for her: "Their souls are touching." That is one of the most beautiful and apt descriptions I have heard. It is a privilege to be touched by Katie's soul, and to touch hers. I am thankful for that privilege.
There are other photos that I love from that day last August, but the one on the sidebar is the one that seems to speak to people the most.


Smileygirl said...

That description of your souls touching is perfect. It definitely appears that way in the photo and I also see peace and forever in that picture. That photo is absent of any pain or suffering.

Sending you love and hugs.

(and I'll see you soon!)

Kay said...

I love that photo too! Thanks for sharing your story with us. And yes, this journey is a difficult and personal one.

Your pics have been beautiful. A vacation for me without leaving my computer. : )


Susan said...

I love the "souls are touching" comment. It is a beautiful picture and you are very lucky to have it. I treasure the pictures I have of Nathan and I being close to one another. It brings me comfort to see the proof of what once was.

The intimacy you are referring to is a special gift. The horrors of putting your child through cancer treatment cannot be understated, but there is the flip side. There is the way that you become so connected while shepherding your child through such things. The caregiving affords you such closeness. One of my favorite things is a list for mother's day that Nathan made in school. It was one of those complete your sentences kind of things. It said "my mom knows..." and he wrote "what I am like". And I did - I knew him more intimately than I will probably know my other children. It makes the loss of him more accute sometimes but I am so thankful that I had that kind of intimiate knowledge of "who he was".

Sorry for the length! Once again - thanks for sharing your heart.

The Engine of the Family said...

The one word I think of when I see the picture of you and Katie is peaceful. It's an amazing picture and I'm so happy that you have it.

Susie Parker said...

It is so perfectly definitive, and it is, in fact, a sacred communion of two souls who were intertwined even before Katie took her first post-birth breath and will last easily until you two meet again. It's one of my favorite photos of the two of you and it's that photo that initially drew me into discovering you and your sweet daughter. I'm grateful for that photo and all that I have discovered from the time I stumbled onto your blog and learned of your life.
Thanks also for the comments today on mine. Your remarks were the first items I read today and it was an exquisite start to a very nice day. Have a wonderful, peace-saturated Wednesday, my faraway West Coast friend.
Blessings right back to you.

Maggie said...

Karen, that photo is breathtaking. "Your souls touching", how beautiful and perfect! Katie seemed so mature, its hard to believe she was only twelve when that photo was taken. I have learned a great deal from you both, thank you.

suz said...

What a beautiful tribute to katie. I do love that picture. Everytime I come to your blog, that photo jumps out at me. "souls are touching" is a beautiful description.
take care-Suz

Ahava said...

The "souls are touching" is a perfect way to describe that photo. I look at is everytime I visit your blog. It's such a beautiful picture that speaks love.

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

There are no words for how beautiful the bond and the love you and Katie share are, Karen.