Thursday, November 13, 2008

Latte & Quilts

Look at this gorgeous boy.

Isn't he handsome? And believe me, he knows it. He is known around here as "the King of Beasts," and sometimes as "Robert Redford," because of his gorgeous blue eyes and that strawberry-blonde fur. He's vain, dominant, and a real character. He's LATTE. (BTW, he came to us with this name; we didn't give it to him. I think it's the Italian word for milk, isn't it?)

Today, I took 13 quilts to Seattle Children's Hospital. The staff is so nice, and they tell me stories about how much the kids like the quilts, while preserving the privacy of their patients. I love knowing that these simple quilts bring comfort to children and parents at a time in their lives that is full of shock and fear. I remember the feelings very, very clearly myself. It means so much to know that the staff can get to know each child, and put the right quilt into his or her hands; that they will have a little touch of "homemade love" with them in the hospital, just for them. I am thankful to my mom for helping me to buy the materials, as well as to MB for all of her help buying fabric and sewing with me. A special "thank you" goes to Rita, who taught me how to make them in the first place (including the original one: Katie's!), and who sews them with me. I couldn't do it without all of you!
For some reason, it was the hardest day I've had, visiting the hospital, since Katie's passing. Usually it makes me feel good to go there, but today, I was having flashbacks. I felt walloped by memories, and decided to spend the minimum amount of time there. I just dropped off the quilts, had a quick chat with Ashley & Jen in Childlife, and left. I lost all of my energy suddenly.
I wonder about this. Because the last 10 months of Katie's life were so intertwined with the hospital, and because the staff was so supportive and helpful, guiding us through the maze that is cancer treatment, I have loved staying connected with them. Now, however, I find I am looking to my good memories of Katie's happy life, before she was sick, whereas the hospital memories are the beginning of the end of her happy life. I was sad today as I drove the familiar route, and recalled all of our trips to the clinic, after she was discharged from inpatient care, checking for complications and recurrence. I always took comfort in the staff's help and any evidence of Katie's progress, but today, I remembered the bad trips: putting numbing cream on her arm to make the blood draws painless, the nausea that came over her as we got closer to the clinic, Katie getting sick in the car or the parking lot, doubled over in a wheelchair, hiding from the world under her quilt, and her sadness over all of it. I just wanted to get out of there, so I did.
I stopped by the Hutch School and gave them some of Katie's books for their library, after visiting the hospital. Katie loved attending the Hutch School with David during the spring of 2007. The staff and students were wonderful to her & David, and we love to support them. They can always use donations.
One more photo of handsome.
Look at that huge tail. It has knocked over wine glasses & decorations; he loves to swish it all over the place.
For some reason, blogger doesn't want to let me separate pargraphs today, so I'm using bold type to highlight points. Maybe it will correct itself tomorrow.


Smileygirl said...

I feel like I should bow in his presence. He really is "the king" of your castle.

Your quilts are gorgeous. Looking forward to tagging along with you sometime. =)

Busy Bee Suz said...

Latte is gorgeous and you are right, that tail is enormous. Looks like it belongs to a different cat. ;0
The quilts are beautiful. really they are. You are doing such a wonderful service to those in need. You are so good.
Take care,Suz

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

Latte is QUITE the looker.... I bet he fancies himself quite a "ladies man", yes? MOST handsome.... :-)

And the quilts are beautiful and so are YOU and your giving spirit, my dear!

Jennifer said...

Your work on this ongoing quilt project -- the word that comes to mind for it is "redemptive." You are a conduit of blessing and comfort -- love, too -- to your brothers and sisters in the hospital. It's beautiful.
I flew across the country to visit my granddaddy in the ICU two weeks ago, just before my father and I moved him into hospice. I kept noticing the hospital-issued red cotton blanket on his bed. It was a serviceable blanket ... but I kept thinking how much more comforting it would have been for him to have one of Katie's quilts, especially in that clinical, machine-ridden, white, utterly-lacking-in-home-comforts ICU room. We did bring him some stuff from home to cheer the room, but I realized one big reason your quilts are so cool is because they're always WITH the patient, always covering them -- they're not simply objects on the wall or on the bedside table.
Being with my grandfather, living with him in the ICU, really brought home to me the creative, courageous and loving work you do, Karen. It encourages me to find more ways to love others too. Thank you.


Tara said...

Those quilts are so neat. It truly is a beautiful thing you are doing Karen. You have such a good heart and seem to find such joy to helping so many people. If just a few of us could do half the community service you do the world would be a much better place.

Thank you for being such an inspiration to so many.

Karla W. said...

The quilts are wonderful.

Quick question...When was Katie diagnosed? I was thinking it was pretty close to the same time as Sammie. I find that as we get close to certain big dates, that my anxiety goes up...especialy in places where they happened.

hugs, Karla

karengberger said...

Karla, Katie was admitted on Oct. 10th, diagnosed on the 13th & started chemo that day. They weren't sure, because it was hard to decipher, and they had it wrong (they thought it was a neuroblastoma). They did another biopsy with an electron microscope, which led to a new diagnosis of "undifferentiated carcinoma." Dr. P told us she thought it was adrenocortical carcinoma, and they were able to confirm that AFTER Katie's surgery (Feb. 21-22). It's amazing that we/they did not know for sure, all of that time, but it's so rare that they had never seen it.
What was Sammie's diagnosis date? I am thinking of you and your family.

karengberger said...

Jennifer, I hope your time with your father and grandfather was filled with peace and love. I pray that you have comfort and good memories to sustain you now.
Yes, the blankets are a personal touch, and that's why they are such fun to make and to give. I would have had no idea of their value, unless I had "been there" myself. God bless you and your family.

Karla W. said...

November 11th 2006.

We went down to Seattle on the 12th and brought goodies for the nurses and food for pantry at RMH. I've been meaning to post on it, but haven't gotten around to it yet :)