Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mother's Day & His Holiness the Dalai Lama

I had a nice Mother's Day. I received a beautiful card from Gregg and a lovely card from David. We went out for brunch with my parents and brother and sister-in-law. The food was great at Edna's Beach Cafe's buffet. After brunch, everyone came back to our house, and we relaxed, Mom opened her gifts, we took a walk, and had a wonderful, private home tour (courtesy of our friends who are selling their incredible house - we wish they didn't have to move!). After everyone left, we drove to visit Gregg's parents, and gave his mother her gift. Then we came back here for a quiet dinner - the three of us.

As I was getting into bed that night, of course my thoughts went to Katie, and to the last really "good" Mother's Day, in 2007, when she was still with us. We thought Katie was in remission at that time. We went to a fabulous restaurant, all of us and we took pictures. Katie dressed up, she was smiling, she was tasting food again.
As I thought back on that time, I was aware that this year, Mother's Day wasn't just wasn't complete. Katie is missing, and will always be missing, so these days will never feel complete. But I have to get used to that, and I don't want to let that fact ruin every day, for me and for everyone I love.

I have had great fun raising David and Katie. They were best friends from the day that Katie was born; they were so funny, and they had such fun together. They played with intensity and imagination, laughed uproariously, fought hard, negotiated with one another, cooperated, separated, and invented all kinds of games together. We have videos of them, acting out scenes that they wrote together. They could entertain each other for hours on end. They are interesting, good-hearted, funny, strong, loving, stubborn, kind, intelligent, multifaceted people. It's a privilege to be their mother. I am so thankful that I was given both David and Katie in my life!

I decided to re-post my Hopeful Parents essay (for Mother's Day) here on my blog. It seems to fit with a quote from the Dalai Lama that arrived yesterday (the quote is posted below).

I wish you, and all of the mothers in your life, a very happy Mother's Day.

It's a gift to be the Hopeful Parent whose posting falls on Mother's Day. I feel a kinship with all of the parents here, but today, I want to celebrate those of us who are mothers.

Being a mother has been one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. The process of mothering my children has changed my life completely. Until I became a mother, my world revolved around "me first," as well as my husband and our extended family. When I became a mother, that shifted, but it took years to really change the center of my being.

Once Katie became sick, the center of my life became my children and my husband, in a new & more intense way. There was no room for lesser concerns; there was no time or energy for other relationships. There was only the four of us, in the eye of the hurricane that is "stage 4" adrenocortical carcinoma.

After 10 months of treatment, surgery & recovery, when we learned that Katie was going to die, the world became even smaller. It became very quiet, and it centered totally on Katie. As we prepared ourselves for her passing, she led the way: she asked questions; she aired her frustrations; she grieved her own short span of life; she worried aloud about us. She wrote a will; she told us where she wanted her ashes scattered, and what sort of "party" she wanted as her celebration of life. And when she became paralyzed, she taught us still more. We learned that it is better to be cared for by loving amateurs than by skilled strangers. We learned how funny a person can be, even in a position of apparent helplessness, as they make withering comments, such as calling the visiting RN "the quack" ("Is the quack still here?").

As a mother, I went through the "ultimate school of letting go," walking day by day with my daughter as she moved toward her death, neither of us knowing when that would happen, but knowing it was coming. Telling her that I would be with her all the way; telling her I believed that she came from love, and was returning to the love from which she came. Telling her I will come looking for her when I die, and hearing her say, "You won't have to look for me; I'll be waiting for you." On the morning of her passing, hearing her tell me, very clearly, "You stay with me," and lying next to her as her breathing slowed, gradually, until it stopped altogether.

Being a mother of a surviving sibling, my son, whose has witnessed his sister/best friend's death is a new challenge. I'm thankful to have a relationship with God that gives me so many resources, including His mother, Mary, a mother who also stayed with her child as he died.

Being a mother is not what I thought it would be: it's much harder, and much more beautiful and rewarding. It has changed me more than I ever dreamed it would. It has given me profound gifts that I never expected. My children and my husband have been three of my greatest teachers.

Being a mother has taught me how little I know, and that what I thought of as my “achievements” are in some ways just a preparatory school for this work. Most of what I need to know can be summed up in this: Whatever you do, do it with love.

I hope that on this Mother's Day, your heart is filled with joy in the gift of your motherhood.

"The period of greatest gain in knowledge and experience is the most difficult period in one's life. Through a difficult period you can learn; you can develop inner strength, determination, and courage to face the problems." -His Holiness the Dalai Lama


Kay said...

So beautiful, Karen! Your journey never fails to bring tears to my eyes when I think of your precious Katie and everything you ALL endured. And you continue to persevere and live life... even when/though it's hard.

))))Hugs to you, my friend!((((

Smileygirl said...

May you feel the peaceful blessings of being a mother every day.


Busy Bee Suz said...

My thoughts were with you this weekend...hoping that you were able to enjoy your family.
Love all the pictures you shared with us. I have to say, I am so jealous of the relationship David and Katie had together. My brother and I never had that as kids...we did a bit as we got older and then he was gone. My girls certainly don't have this were very lucky in that aspect.

Now, about this house for sale...I would love to be your neighbor...we could garden together, have lunch, make some quilts, etc...just good times galore. BUT, this place only has 3 fireplaces. I am quite picky and I demand 4 in my next house. Sorry.
That place looks like heaven on earth!!
Take care,

**thanks for the nordstom advice...any amount of money is worth it for a good fitting you-know- what**

Karla W. said...

Again, I love the photos. I'm glad you had a good mother's day, even though it was incomplete. Hugs, Karla

Stephanie said...

Thank you for the lovely Mother's Day gift! You are a lovely writer. Blessings.

Jennifer said...

Beautiful, Karen. My heart both breaks and lifts as I read your words, particularly the section of your "Hopeful Parents" article when you describe Katie's last day and your words to each other. That was nothing short of sacred.

And it's utterly cool to read about David and Katie's bond with each other. My brothers and I had an extremely similar relationship, which makes me wish deeply that David could know the joy of a deepening bond with his little sister as they grow toward and into adulthood together.

Blessings to you, and peace.