Friday, September 4, 2009

Ashes to Ashes

I haven't posted about our trip to Tillicum Village on Blake Island, where David works. We took my parents there for a salmon dinner and show, to celebrate their 57th wedding anniversary. It was a great excursion. Here are a few photos from that evening.
The end of summer signals the beginning of new things, the start of the public school year being one of them. Unfortunately, we are having a big "brouhaha" with our local school administration over the reduction of class time in favor of giving that time away to the teachers for planning, collaboration and - oh, yes! - one period of remedial work for the students who are struggling. So I have been seething, meeting, discussing, writing and rewriting letters about this (and the way the information was withheld, and then suddenly and stealthily dealt to us). If David wasn't a senior this year, we would probably pull him from this district and move him to another...and we are 4th-generation residents here.

David is in tennis workouts with his team, so he is only working for Argosy one day per week. We are getting things organized for him to begin his senior year. We attended the sports-teams' kickoff ("Meet the Vikings") this week. Katie's classmates were there, because they are freshmen this year. I know some of them from as far back as kindergarten, and it is very hard for me that she is not with them, starting high school.

Gregg is taking today off from work to make a 4-day weekend. We will attend a family reunion (the Kvinsland family, Gregg's mother's side) one day, and a memorial mass for Signe Katherine, another.

I have been writing and doing research for Katie's Comforters Guild, which is officially open, with all four board members in place; I will write more about that soon. I'm also making some quilts. That's one reason I have been so quiet here.

I decided, after last Thursday's scattering of Katie's ashes, that I need a permanent container for some of them, to keep for myself (Gregg doesn't share this need). On Thursday night, my parents asked me to keep some of Katie's ashes, so that some of hers can be scattered with theirs, when the time comes. So yesterday, I went to the funeral home, & David went with me. We chose a small metal heart, similar to the one that Andrea and Mike chose for Signe's ashes.  I also found a beautiful box (online) for the ashes that I will save for my parents.

This is the oddest thing, to me:  I had thought that scattering her ashes would remind me that Katie is now free, and that I can sense her everywhere; instead, I feel more loss, more anguish and a deep depression has settled over me. I have been struggling with it for the past week; that's another reason I have been quiet here. I feel that this scattering, rather than "freeing" her and me, has made me want to cling more tightly to what little I have left of her. It's made me feel very small, very clenched - and not free at all. I feel as if I've gone backward in the process of grieving, though I've been at it for over two years now. I feel lost, without a compass, and like a failure. It's awful.

The only hope I can see is to turn more earnestly to God, because I cannot bear this alone.
Dear Kathleen gave me the following quote:

"Our Grief"

"The weight of grief and the depth of mourning are in direct proportion to the importance and value in our lives of what is lost. We have two options in how we deal with grief and mourning.
"We can bear the weight on our shoulders alone. If we choose this path, we again have two choices: We can let the weight of grief crush us or, we can shed the weight. If we choose to shed the weight, we must also shed the importance and value of what is lost. We can't have it both ways. As the grief fades, so will the memory of what is lost dimnish, until the weight is bearable.
"The second choice is to call on our Lord to bear the weight with us, to share our grief, to mourn with us. When we do, a peculiar thing happens. The weight of grief does not lessen but it is bearable. If we continue to call on Him, to ask Him to mourn with us, we find that instead of the weight becoming less, He makes us stronger. The grief is no less and neither is the importance of what we have lost. This is where mourning becomes worship!"
I don't know who wrote it,  but it gives me hope. I realize that, in the excitement of the creation of the Guild, and the progress in the book project, I have let my ego pull me ahead...I have let the joy & adrenaline of meaningful work obscure my awareness of how much I depend upon God just to survive each day of this new life. It's not working on ego alone...I'm out of fuel. I need to crawl back into God's lap and rest in Him. I'm so thankful that Kathleen shared this quote, and to Kay, for posting this.


Lakeland Jo said...

Love the quote and very helpful to me x

Anonymous said...

With this post I am reminded of the song, "Give Them All To Jesus" - 'shattered dreams, wounded hearts'...' You are so wise to let him shoulder part of your burden. I don't have any idea what people do without hope in Jesus. Have you been to I have been enjoying their posts on hope.
Bless you today, Karen! I so wish this week would have been eaiser for you. xo L in AK

Elizabeth said...

Dearest Karen, I am so glad that you will find solace in your enormous faith. I am so sad that depression is revisiting and can't help but feel that it's to be expected as you move through living without Katie on earth. I am struck by how difficult time really is -- how paradoxical that as you move further from Katie's actual death, you move also further from her. My friend Vicki Forman has told me about this -- how terrible time can be. And while my faith in God and the universe is not as clear as yours, I do know that grace will visit you again. Love to you.

Smileygirl said...

Have you thought about maybe saving some of Katie's ashes inside a small stuffed heart? Sort of like a little pillow heart that you could hug to your chest? Or maybe you could even make this out of a favorite piece of her clothing? Just a thought. Thinking of you.

Karen and Joe said...

The gap between what our mind knows and what our hearts feel is so glaring right now. Though we believe our precious children are alive and well in another invisible place, still we need to be near whatever of them still remains here. Are we failures at comprehending this and releasing them? Probably yes. We are hopelessly human, needing reminders, touch, and physical presence. One day when we are reunited, we will probably laugh at ourselves and marvel at our inability to release. But I keep thinking of Jesus' words to His followers: "This do in remembrance of me". Even He understood the need for tangible reminders.
You can't be blamed for loving Katie so much and having difficulty parting with her still.
Hugs, Karen

Kay said...

Aww... Karen... I'm so sorry you're hurting. Glad something I wrote was even just a little bit helpful. As I was reading your words, I was wishing I could just give you a big hug!

I don't know how I would feel with the ashes thing either. I think it would be hard to let them all go. I would want to keep at least some too. : )

Gannet Girl said...

We don't want ashes in our lives at all. We want the dry bones scene from Ezekiel; we want to see our children knit back together and reanimated before our very eyes, we want to touch them and hold them and hear their voices, we want to watch them grow into adulthood and marriage and parenthood. The ashes on the water ~ such a reminder of all that will never be. My heart aches for you; how I wish I could just give her back to you in all her marvelous beauty.

Anonymous said...

I can completely understand why you'd want to hold on to the ashes you have. How does a mother "let go" of her child? I don't think it's possible. My heart is with you.

Busy Bee Suz said...

I wish we could all take your pain and sadness away from you. I was worried that you have been missing and it could mean you are not feeling well. You mentioned that you feel lost, like a failure. You are nothing of a failure, you are a loving mother who is grieving.
Hugs and good thoughts for you Karen.
deep breaths. look at the sky. embrace Greg and David.

Renee said...

Karen you have only been at this two years. Only two years. Two years is nothing in comparison to your loss.

This comment: 'If we choose to shed the weight, we must also shed the importance and value of what is lost. We can't have it both ways.'

Now that is impossible. Never.

I feel how hard that must be to see your sweet girls friends. Life can be hard.

I believe that your love of God and the strength that God can give us is all we can count on.

I never pray to be healed because that won't happen. I no longer pray for Sheldon to be healed because that won't happen either. But I do pray for God to be with us so that we are not alone.

Oh Karen, I am so sorry. How hard. I wouldn't part with anymore of her ashes now. You need to have them with you.

I'm so sorry Karen and I wish (I really wish) that I could (I have to end there because I don't even know what I wish I could.).

Love you.

Renee xoxo

Dawn ~ BJSMomma said...

I love the quote...and I don't think you are going backwards in your grief...I have found this road to be more like a roller coaster...sometimes fast, and sometimes moving on at a steady have so much new stuff and change going on. I know for me, when a "milestone" should be reached...I find myself struggling. You have senior year, and Katie's freshman year, so that is a huge heart tug. It's these moments when it seems that the roller coaster is turning too sharply. I am praying for you so much, and I just ask the Lord to fill you with his love and mercy. And some of those little "kisses & hugs" that he gives me when I really need it.

~ I also LOVE "SMiley Girl's" idea...I think that is nice


Karla said...

The grandchildren bough my mom a necklace for Christmas the year Sam was diagnosed. From the necklace hung a small silver sphere. Mom put a little swatch of Sam's hair in it and wore it close to her heart throughout Sam's treatment. It made her feel closer on the days that she couldn't be at the hospital.

AnnDeO said...

Sometimes I think of the journey as a spiral... like a slinky. Some moments are spread out and your "progress" covers a lot of area other times it is squished together and it seems you are not moving at all. Slow and fatigued. But you are moving... through something incredibly profound.
I am sorry you are hurting so incredibly. I'm sorry Katie is not here.

Jason, as himself said...

What a struggle of emotions.

On another note...your parents are so cute!

And on another note still...teacher collaboration is worth every minute of time that it takes. Cross my heart.

Renee said...

I am going to listen to broken love because I need too.

Karen you so deserve your sweet girl, I can never be reconciled that you don't have her.

Love Renee xoxo

ChiTown Girl said...

Wow, this was a tough post to read. I can't even pretend to know what you're feeling. For me personally, I think the scattering of the ashes would just be too "final" for me. Like you, I think I would need to hold on to some, if not all. I can't even imagine what that feels like. My heart is hurting for you, Gregg and David. I only hope this renewed depression doesn't hang around too long. Then again, I would think it never really leaves, does it? Sending you love...