Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Day with Kathleen

Yesterday, I went to the beach with my friend, Kathleen. We go way back to BSF days together; that's where I met Kathleen, about a decade ago. She has a radiance about her that is tremendously attractive; I recall thinking, when I first met her, that I would love to be her friend. Imagine my delight when our friendship began to grow...and my surprise, when I learned that this radiant woman had two sons, and the younger one, Hayden, had a brain tumor! How could anyone be so full of grace in such circumstances? I learned that the answer lies in her vibrant relationship with God.

Kathleen is the friend who taught me that moving to Ronald McDonald House was possible; she taught me that you can "do" the cancer journey any way that fits your family. I knew this years before cancer entered our lives, because of her example, her creativity and her passion for her family.

To give you an idea of the connection that I feel with Kathleen, I will tell you this: after getting to know her older son, Gunnar, I asked Kathleen if we could broker a marriage arrangement between him and Katie (he is a gem). We still laugh about that!

When Hayden passed away, I was heartbroken for Kathleen and her family. I felt impelled to take a gift over to their house, wanting to simply leave it on the porch and not invade their privacy. When Gunnar opened the door and invited me inside, I did not know what to do, but I went in. Kathleen came downstairs and welcomed me, and I began to cry. Of course, I felt like a failure at that point...I had come hoping to bring comfort, and I ended up crying in her arms...but she understood. I gave her my gift, which was a calligraphy of the 23rd Psalm, made by a friend of ours (and cancer-survivor), Gerry. I was deeply touched to see it hanging in Kathleen's bedroom, when I went to pick her up yesterday morning.

Kathleen and I share a passion for beaches and beach glass. After Hayden died, Kathleen gave me a few precious pieces of his beach glass collection. What a gift of the heart -- things that he himself had handled.
I keep them in a seashell in our guest bathroom...the one with the beach glass counter top that I made, when we were building this house. They remind me of the brave and sweet boy whose life helped me (and many others) to learn important lessons, and the friend who shared those lessons so generously and graciously.

Walking yesterday in the wind and sunshine, we found so many heart-shaped pieces of glass and rocks (broken and whole) that I stopped picking them up; it was enough to know that they were there, in our path...a path strewn with love and memories. We even saw a beautiful orange butterfly; butterflies always make me feel as if Katie's spirit is near.
Kathleen & I walked for over 3 hours, talking the entire time. We had a picnic lunch at the half-way point. I felt cleansed and energized by the time I took her home.
I picked David up at school, went home to get cleaned up, and we met my parents and our friends, Fred & Charlotte at Burrata Bistro for dinner.
It was a lovely day.

15 comments:

MB said...

How lucky to have a friend who truly does "get it", she is walking her own walk and is there as a wonderful friend and guide. Can't wait to feel my own beach glass in my hands, MB

Elizabeth said...

What a beautiful post -- and reminder of how to treasure friendships. Thank you for sharing it.

Lakeland Jo said...

what a lovely, inspiring and warm post

Busy Bee Suz said...

Kathleen seems like a wonderful friend and I am sure she feels the same way about you. I am so sorry for her loss also, so sad.
Your beach walk sounds so nice and therapeutic for you both I am sure.
Love all your beach glass (which I have always called Sea Glass)
LOVE LOVE LOVE that countertop made from your found glass...that is just superb.
Nice family picture...you look so darn happy and that warms my heart.
Take care, Suz

Kay said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful day. So sorry for her loss... someone else in 'the club'. ugh. But looks like you all had a delightful time. And he fam pics are just too cute.

Hugs to you, friend!
~kay

KnittingJourneyman said...

Such a beautiful day.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

WOW! I love those heart-shaped pieces of stone and glass--how blessed. Cool post and pix.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

(This post made me cry.)

;-(




:-)

Mary said...

I am in awe of all those heart shaped pieces of glass and stone. How fitting that you found them while on a walk with a friend with whom you have so much shared experience. True treasures, both!

Dawn~^i^Brandon^i^, Jordan, and Seth's mom said...

Sounds like such a wonderful day....those friends that God places in our lives sure are special. And it sounds like God "hand picked" you both for each other. That is just too cool.

~ I just love the beach glass, I have never seen any here. Is that only a Pacific Coast thing?

Love,
Dawn

Jason, as himself said...

"...to mourn with those who mourn..."

If something so tragic as this happened to me, your hugging me and crying with me would be the best comfort.

Leah said...

What a wonderful portrait of your friendship. Warmed my heart to read it!

Renee said...

You are beautiful and I think your son looks just like you.

This was a beautiful post to both of your families.

Love Renee xoxo

Anonymous said...

I LOVE reading what you write... I so want to come out your way and find some beach glass on my own.... I have NEVER seen it before, but I am landlock in Indiana. Keep writing please!!

Love from Indiana
Pam

Jennifer Campbell said...

Karen,
Oh the comfort and joy your blog brings me! Every day I check to read your latest posts and this one about your beach glass treasure hunts warmed my heart. Growing up on Prince Edward Island, Canada, this was one of our favourite pastimes. Karen, I know how you love beautiful, tranquil places. Please consider P.E.I as a trip destination someday...I know you'll fall in love with the East Coast..just as love the west coast!
Thank you for your comments on my blog. You remind me of my mom in so many ways. Your faith. Your love and dedication for your family. Even your commitment to being fit!
Thank you for the light you shine into this world. I know first hand the gift of a mother/woman like you is to all.....