Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Busy, Busy...Sad

It's been a busy week, so far. We've had some school communication issues to resolve, and we have a 16-year-old guy here who loves to ski, AND who is trying out for the golf team (at the same time as he is planning his next ski outing)...and who leaves for France in a few weeks! Where are his golf shoes? Where are his khakis?

Monday was "housecleaning and laundry day." Yesterday was "sewing quilts" day. Rita brought her machine over and we sewed like madwomen. We finished 16 quilts that I had pinned, including two for a charity auction to benefit Children's Hospital. Jill Douglas, the mother of Alexis and Austin, is helping to organize this benefit. If you want to participate in any way, you can visit Alexis' website and read about it. Look for it there under recent news/updates.

Here is a sneak peek at the two quilts that will be part of the auction.

Also pictured in the stack above are quilts made by my sister-in-law, Linda, Blogger Mary Jo and Quilter Sandy. Thanks to all of you!

Today I am washing more fabric, and ironing is the next step. Dear Diane W. brought a generous donation of fabric for the quilts, and is going to bring more. Momentum is building, as is the supply of fabric; thank you, God! Thank you, Diane! We need the help, in order to keep the supply going (and to support our efforts to get blankets to all wards of the hospital. If you sew, or know someone who does, please send them here & we can help you/them get started.)

Tonight, we are going out to Burrata Bistro for dinner with Rita & her family...David hasn't been there yet, & we are excited to share it with him. We all love Kim's cooking (& I always enjoy a night off from cooking).

Speaking of food preparation, I've been finding that the crock pot is a good tool for cooking money-saving recipes, as well as for saving time on busy days. Put the meal into it in the morning, and at dinner time, all you need are side dishes; in addition to that, the house smells delicious when the guys come home! Last night it was teriyaki-ginger pork with garlic-sauteed asparagus and couscous on the side. Tomorrow, it will be crockpot chicken enchiladas...a new recipe.

Good days, yet I've been sad this week.

This Sunday, March 8th, is not only the beginning of daylight savings time. It's also
the day she would be turning 14, if she were still here with us. Two of her childhood girlfriends also have their 14th birthdays this month (Kristi & Colleen, Happy Birthday to you both!).
I remember when we three moms were pregnant; I remember the childbirth classes, and many playdates, since we all lived on the same street, for a time.

It's hard, thinking about this. I was reflecting on Katie's last birthday on earth, March 8, 2007, and it got so painful that I had to draw a line in my mind and STOP.
Katie was in the ICU, recovering from her surgery, with a breathing tube and many IV lines and drains, unconscious for most of the day.
Her favorite nurse was taking care of her (thank you, Melanie!).
Another sweet nurse (who shares her birthday) came in during her day off to bring a gift for Katie. (Thanks, Kim!)

I bought one of those tiny, wind-up music boxes that plays "Happy Birthday to You" and played it. We sang to her. I bought her a super soft, silly stuffed bear to cuddle with, to help her feel cozy.
I had put up many posters and photographs to decorate her ICU room. I posted a birthday countdown, and updated it every day; I used her favorite typefaces & included photos of happier days and well wishes. We decorated her room with paper lanterns (no candles allowed, of course). I took her photo with Melanie, though Katie was not awake. I wrote a message to her on the white board that Mel is holding, so that Katie could someday look back and see how far she had come from that birthday. But she never saw those photos; she never asked much about that time in her recovery, and we learned very clearly that if Katie didn't ask, she didn't want to know.
It was a few weeks later, down in the surgery ward (not the ICU) when she finally was able to take an interest in her birthday cards and gifts. She opened and enjoyed each one. There were dozens of them.

We were going to give a big summer party for Katie, to celebrate her recovery and make up for the missed birthday party, when she felt well enough. She even invited Dr. Waldhausen (her chief surgeon) to come, which was a huge thing for her to do, as she had had quite enough of most doctors. Unfortunately, she relapsed, instead of getting better.

The party that we ended up planning was her Celebration of Life. It's hard to ask a 12-year old what she wants her memorial service to be like; when she brought up the subject, we listened carefully. "I want a party, like Auntie Bernice's [after Bernice's memorial service, family & friends of all ages gathered to share food & drink; kids were playing in & outdoors, people reminiscing -- a real party!] and I want fireworks." We chose beautiful Kiana Lodge, down the street from our house, on several acres of waterfront, where Katie had wanted to hold her wedding reception. We made it as much of a party as possible, but of course, she wasn't with us.

I miss planning her birthday party with her, asking what she wants for dinner, what kind of cake, and who she wants to invite. I want to take her shopping for clothes, out for lunch, for a pedicure, for a makeover. I want to buy presents for her, and write a birthday card. I want to put our heads together and talk and laugh and watch a movie...lots of movies. I want to put my arms around her, kiss her soft cheeks and tell her, "I love you, Sis. I'm so glad that you were born!"

I want to see her smile light up her face, and light up the room.

"I want, I want, I want." Doesn't sound very grateful for what I have, or for what I had. But I miss what we had. It was good.

I want to celebrate her birthday, but Gregg & David don't share my feelings about it. It's a little bit of a lonely feeling, to be the only one who wants to mark the day. I suspect that the three of us will buy a bouquet of helium-filled balloons, at least 14 of them, take them to her bench in Waterfront Park, and set them free.


Anonymous said...

My heart truly hurts for you, Karen. The smile on Katie's face in the photos makes me smile. Several weeks ago, I asked you to send a note to Jackson Palmer in Indiana, and I appreciate you doing so. I know it meant a lot to his family. Sadly, Jackson passed away shortly after your note.

Karla W. said...

Sending hugs your way. My family never wants to talk about things regarding cancer or posibility of relapse...I end up turning to friends and other family when I need to express feelings regarding that. As a mom, I can understand the need to want to celebrate Katie's birthday.

Smileygirl said...

The pic of all the babies swaddled up on the couch is soooo precious. Just love it.

Hugs to you.

Meg said...

I love all the cute pictures of Katie! Thanks for sharing those :)

It definitely makes sense that the days leading up to Katie's birthday are especially difficult....I think sometimes the anticipation can be worse than the actual day! If Gregg and David don't feel comfortable with celebrating, are there other people you could get together with during the day? Friends of Katie's, or friends of yours that you could spend some time with? I know my friend Nora's mom invited some people over on her birthday the second year and said that having people there made it more bearable! A funny anecdote from that day is that they ended up with a ton of brownies and chocolate cookies since everyone brought food and everyone thought they would bring something chocolate in honor of Nora :)

I will be thinking of you and hope you can choose a way to spend the day that feels right to you!


P.S If I email you a couple songs as attachments, will you be able to download them and listen to them on your computer?

Anonymous said...

Your Katie is so beautiful, and so is your love for her. Aching for you as you long for your precious girl. Praying for you right now. Shelly Waltz

Grandma J said...

I can't even imagine your pain. Celebrate in your heart, Katie will be with you in spirit. Make it a girl thing.
God Bless you.

Jason, as himself said...

It is so unfathomably unfair that only two out of three of those little kids are still here.

So unfair. It makes me mad! Have you been angry at all this year?

And I just don't know what else to say, except, I sure like you.

Elizabeth said...

Oh dear, karen. My heart hurts for you and I don't even know you. I can't even imagine what you must feel like -- and your list of "wants" is just so poignant. You can celebrate your Katie's life and mark it this Sunday -- I will bow my head and smile for you -- it is also my own daughter, Sophie's, 14th birthday. Our two girls are indeed precious and our love for them prevails over everything, I like to think.

Busy Bee Suz said...

My heart aches for you. I love the idea of sending up the baloons. I don't know what I would do myself....sending you good thoughts and a bit of strength to get through this hard, sad time Karen.
Hugs, suz

Kay said...

Oh Karen.. I know there just aren't words. I'm so sorry for your hurt and your loss.. Katie radiates joy in those beautiful pics! Again, I'm so sorry.

Praying for you!

Shelley said...

Hi Karen, I have never left a message on your blog but have left a messsage here and there on Katie's CaringBridge site. I have always been drawn to you and Katie for many reasons...some I cannot really put a finger on, but for sure it is that I have 3 daughters that have circled around the age of your beautiful, shining Katie. They are now 13, almost 12 and 10. So for 2 years, you have reminded me of the preciousness of our children. And my oldest daughter is also a Katey. But I am also drawn to your life and the beauty where you live and you don't know how many times you have inspired me in so many ways as I read your how to live my life and how to cherish my children. I so wish Katie was here. I know this sounds strange since I have never met you and never met Katie, but your post today brought huge drops of tears to my face and my desk as they dropped. How incredibly unfair life is. How delicate it is. And here I am planning my daughter's 12th birthday. How on earth could that be ....I think how unfair it is that Katie was unconscious, fighting for her life, while my daughter and friends are planning her party tomorrow. She will be 12 on March 21. (that was my other connection, a March b-day) And I hope that this post oesn't make you sadder. But I didn't want to just be a "reader" without saying hello and letting you know of the impact on my life. And I just hope you know that Katie is on my mind and I think of her often and think how she would have been one of my girls' friends if we lived near each other. And the point is...she is still remembered and cherished by so many. I hope that you do have some type of celebration for your sweet girl. The balloons sound wonderful! I will toast to her on her big day. She was an extremely brave little girl and definitely an example of poise, grace, fortitude and maturity beyond her years.
With love, Shelley from San Diego

Laurie Brandriet Keller said...

I feel it's important that you celebrate AND mourn the day. It's a big day. It's still Katie's day.

I see you creating a significant healthy relationship with Katie in spirit. Building on your vivid memories and thoughts is what is healing you.

You're such an inspiration with your deep, dark and bright thoughts. I've got you in a nice White Light this weekend. xoxo.

Anonymous said...

Katie's smile lights up a room as far away as here in Chicago, Illinois. Thank you for sharing those photos. What a dear little girl.

Anonymous said...

Dear Karen,
I have a big lump in my throat and big tears in my eyes - this post was so honest and I love the pictures. I stopped by here to tell you that while I was at Walmart today I saw the cutest flannel - it made me smile and I had to get it to send to you. It has happy frogs jumping all over it with a baby yellow gingham background. After it was cut and put in my cart, one of the clerks stopped and said, "What cheerful fabric!" I will be sending it soon! I will be praying for you - especially on Sunday. I think you should celebrate her birthday how ever you want - it is still her birthday - what a sweet life to celebrate. God bless you today - and I hope you feel the warm hugs that we're all trying to send you through the blogisphere!

L in Alaska