Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Something New

This weekend, something new happened. I felt happy - deeply and truly happy - for the first time since Katie was diagnosed with cancer.

It's been over two years since I've felt this good.

I've always been a pretty positive person, looking on "the bright side" of things (cue Monty Python's "Life of Brian" music). I've always believed in the love of God, and had faith, hope and love as my companions. But ever since Katie received her diagnosis of cancer, with a life-threatening tumor that was not curable by medical science, it has been harder than ever to carry that resilience into each day and each situation. I think I quit trying, after she passed away. Instead, I worked to continue my relationship with God - with Love itself - in the moments that I've been aware and able to do so.

I have let go of most of my friendships, by necessity & choice. We have not had much company around here. Part of the reason for this is that we didn't want company; another part of the reason is that grief (and possibly menopause) has addled my brain, to the point that I cannot organize a large gathering, the way I used to be able to do it. That sort of thing would overwhelm me now -that is, since Katie passed away.

We have some relatives-by-marriage who I love very much. I have wanted to get them together with my parents (isn't this a cute photo of them?). When my parents came home from California, I started thinking about how and when to do this. I invited all of them, and went to the grocery store last week, to look for something to prepare for them to eat. Umm. The store had the largest hams for sale that I've ever seen. I bought a 21.5-pound ham for $0.99 per pound. Yes, you read that right: twenty-one and a half pounds of pork.

Now, I thought, I might want to invite a few others to share in the wealth, or we'll be eating ham for weeks. So I started adding family members and a few friends...and they invited a few others. We ended up with 20 people here...and it was good. It was better than good; I was ELATED.

Yes, you read that correctly, too: ELATED.
There were kids & adults on the rope swing, in the woods, on the beach, in the rowboat (even a CAT in the rowboat), & someone went swimming! We had a beach fire, fireworks and s'mores late into the night.

The funny thing is, people kept asking me what to bring, and I didn't know what to tell them, as I had most everything ready. They asked me what time I had said they should arrive, and I didn't remember what I'd said, so I just gave general guidelines. They asked how they could help, and I didn't have a clue, because I didn't need help; Gregg & David were already helping me. It was as if I wasn't in charge of this party; I was just hosting it, and it was a lot of fun doing it that way.

I realized, too, that I have a tendency, right before a party is about to begin, to suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder. I start to go over the house with a white-glove mentality; no one and nothing (including me) is perfect enough for my standards.

The realization came to me as I was wiping up tiny specks of dirt from the wood floor, and once I recognized it, I knew I didn't have to suffer from its impulses. I could see that nothing IS perfect, and it doesn't have to be. I said to Gregg, "I think I get a little OCD before a party," and he quickly agreed with me. So I guess my little craziness is not a secret...& we shared a smile at it.

Hospitality is what matters; comfort for our guests is what matters. When you live right between the woods and the beach, things are going to get DIRTY...and they did. I didn't mind that at all. We wanted people to enjoy every thing that we had to offer them, and they did. I can clean up later.

The most interesting thing to me was the feeling of elation that I had during and after the gathering. What started as a meeting of two families grew to include others, spontaneously and naturally. It was a good feeling to be so happy, as if the clouds in my heart had parted, somehow. I told Gregg how I felt, and I marvelled that I could be this happy, even without Katie here. It's still amazing me today, and I'm thankful.

Anyone want a ham sandwich?

Note: all of the photos in this posting were taken by Mooselips (Paul Dudley), except this one, and the shot of Watermelon & her mom (which were taken by me).


Jennifer said...

"Elated." What an amazing word to use -- and have it be 100% TRUE!

I am still smiling -- and a really big one too -- after reading this entry of yours, Karen!! So glad you could experience this, that you took the step (and the risk) of opening your heart and home in this way ... and that, in turn, you were enveloped by the joy and happy companionship of so many wonderful people.

And how cool is it that people just kept inviting people?! Everyone wanted to chill at the Gberger pad, man! Hottest party in town, yo!

Yay, you! :)


Elizabeth said...

I just want to type a million exclamation marks for this post. But I can't possibly do that, so here:


Kay said...

Oh Karen,

I'm so glad you were ELATED! :-D

I can just imagine the big smile on your face as you took care of your guests and had a wonderful time! I'm so glad for you!

And hey.. the time wouldn't be complete without the cat in the boat, would it?! That one alone made me laugh out loud!

ChiTown Girl said...

You have no idea how happy reading this made me!! I can't wipe the smile off my face. :) I'm so happy you were able to enjoy your party the way you did, and that you weren't all stressed out about it instead. It's a good practice run for when I come visit you and Smiley Girl! haha!

Busy Bee Suz said...

My face is beaming and my heart is singing. I love hearing this from you. You have found some joy. I love all the pictures, everyone looks so happy. Elated really. ;)
So, how was the ham?????

Oh, and just so you know, I have major pre-party OCD. It is bad and requires medication. (Well, maybe just wine)
Take care,

Anonymous said...

Elated. What a feeling - what a word! So happy for you =]!

L in AK

Lakeland Jo said...

you are a wonderful inspirational lady and deserve to be happy

Mary said...

I'm so happy for you Karen. Your pure joy shines through in your post! Thanks for sharing it with all of us.

Ann Marie said...

Karen, it made me so happy to read this! What a wonderful thing for you. Even if it's only a glimpse, you know what's possible. Good for you!!! More parties this summer, I think!

Renee said...

Karen I'm bawling.

It appears to me that Katie was with you the whole time.

This is a beautiful post and I am very happy for you.

Love Renee xoxo

Paul said...

What a wonderful thing to hear Karen! You did look very happy that day, and relaxed (and let's not forget cute-as-a-bug!). I'm so glad that you put your OCD on the backburner for the day. Otherwise, you would have been mad that David and I were bouncing grapes off the side of your house and trying to catch them in our mouths! I bounced one high of the house while David was all the way done on the lawn. He locked onto it like a laser and moved swiftly, looking back over his shoulder, and CAUGHT IT in his mouth before rolling into the bushes! Oh my God, that was classic!

I don't know what possessed me to eat my weight in chocolate covered almonds or what possessed you to fill my camera bag up with ham (I found it 3 days later!). Just kidding! But I think I had 3 sandwiches...yum and thank you!

Sitting on the beach, watching the stars and your pyromaniac son at the same time was very special. Taking pictures was a blast and signing my name in the twilight with my iPhone was a first for me.

Life does go on, but of course never without love, remembrance, adoration, and unlimited affection for those who cannot share more of this gift with us physically. But they haven't really left, Katie hasn't left. I see her in your eyes, Gregg's eyes, David's eyes, and through the joy that everyone was sharing that day, AND in many more happy days to come.

ELATION is a goal to be yearned for by everyone!

Thanks for including us on such a special day!

Anonymous said...

This is such a lovely post - I have re-read it several times and your mood is infectious. Long may it last! I think the evidence of all the comments here shows how thrilled we are that you had such a lovely time with your family. And what brilliant photos! It's been a while since I've been at a big family party - but you made me crave going home to Ireland for a while!


Laurie Brandriet Keller said...

Oh, Girlfriend ... it's such a great feeling for me to hear this from you. You are such a great Lady. I have felt the clouds lifting for you and prayed for the day you would write this post. Thanks for your support in my world too. I am beginning to experience changes for the better here. I don't feel soooo hurt. Have a great weekend. xoxo.

heidi said...

Karen, what an amazing woman you are! What a fantastic start to a great summer filled with lots more fabulous gatherings!!!! thank you for everything, you give so much! XOXOXOXO


MB said...

It's Saturday now......(toe tapping again with hands on hips:))

Anonymous said...

I am SO GLAD to hear. Happiness is contagious -- thanks for passing it along! I'm beaming for you as I read!

hdbl said...

oh the joy to feel again.

celebrating with you, you party animal!

moosh in indy. said...

I came to your site at the suggestion of another.
I for the first time feel a tiny glimmer of hope.
Thank you.

Ann Marie said...

What a special treat to come to your home.

My mom said it was just lovely and she can't wait to see you again soon!

Thanks for everything!