Friday, October 9, 2009


"Trouble creates a capacity to handle it as a friend, for you'll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it."    -Oliver Wendell Holmes

Did you see Oprah's interview with Stephanie (NieNieand Christian Nielson on Wednesday? If you missed it, I recommend that you go to and look it up. It's deeply inspiring, and quite beautiful. NieNie's blog is one of my favorites.

A few days ago, I was led to these quotes by Gannet Girl's posting about them. She found them on (I believe that they are part of a Jewish worship service).  I am re-printing them here, because they speak my heart.

"This is the vision of a great and noble life:
To endure ambiguity and to make light shine through it;
To stand fast in uncertainty;
To prove capable of unlimited love and hope."

"May the pains of past bereavements grow more gentle;
Indeed, let them be transformed into gratitude to our dear ones who have died
And tenderness to those who are still with us."
This prayer reflects my desire for meaning in my life. Part of the meaning that I'm always seeking has to do with integrating the painful reality of what we lived through, what we witnessed, and what is lost to us, due to Katie's cancer and her passing, into the rest of what remains for me in my life. I cannot return to my old life. I can't live on the surface. Life has taken me deeper, and I do not know what my life is supposed to look like, except that I'm alive, and I'm to do what is in front of me...and to do it with love and kindness.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting with one of the coordinators of the new Adolescent and Young Adults Cancer Program at Seattle Children's Hospital. We spent an hour discussing the program, the issues facing adolescents and young adults who have cancer, and the book that I am working on now. I hope that this book will be a resource for just this group of people. The discussion we enjoyed gave me new insights into what are some of the difficulties facing adolescents who endure cancer treatment. I hadn't thought about some of them before, because Katie was 11 and 12 years old during her treatment. It was eye-opening and inspiring. It made me want to get involved, but I usually feel that way when I visit Seattle Children's Hospital.

Last evening, my mom and I attended a New Members meeting with the Guild Association. We learned about other new guilds, met some of their members, and heard about why they started their guilds. We learned what they are planning in the way of fund-raising for the hospital. I didn't know that when Seattle Children's was founded, 102 years ago, there was NO major pediatric hospital in existence, west of the Mississippi River. The founder (Anna Clise) had a young son who died, and decided to DO SOMETHING about the situation. She founded what is now Seattle Children's Hospital, and started the first guild to support it.

I know a lot of bereaved mothers who feel the same way. On certain days, grief lights a fire under me; I can't stand to see another family endure what we have suffered. I want to alleviate - and at best, prevent - that kind of suffering. I want to FIGHT BACK...but I intend to do it with love. I want to bring into the world some of the kind of light that left it when Katie passed away.
I can't bring Katie back, but I believe that I can bring light...which leads me back to those prayers which I quoted above.


Busy Bee Suz said...

The quotes and your thoughts are so deep and beautiful Karen.
"grief lights a fire under me." This says so much about you, about your mission.
I look forward to your book; I hope to be at one of your signings!
I have not read NieNies blog before, but have heard of it. I went and read all of the oprah story and the video interview. Can you believe I cried? Oh, you know I cry at everything! Her perseverence brought me to tears, so many things I take for granted. Thank you for posting about this, you made me think again about how fortunate I am today.
Hugs to you my friend,

Karen and Joe said...

You are an inspiration to me. I'm not there yet, but I would like to be. Thanks for sharing your beautiful heart. It's always a treat.

Elizabeth said...

"and tenderness to those who are still with us" -- those words resonate for me. Your words and feelings go so deep, Karen, to places I'm sure you don't realize. I am grateful to you and for you. I am awed by your generosity and hope that your sorrow is lightened, however momentarily, by these acts of love.

Karen and Joe said...

One more thing I meant to say...the pictures of Katie are so, so beautiful. What a radiant girl. Like mother, like daughter.

Clippy Mat said...

Karen: you DO bring light. that is for sure. you are radiant. :-)
I saw the last 15 mins of Oprah the other day. What an inspiring woman NieNie is and she is beautiful; truly.

Renee said...

Katie is absolutely stunning.

Love Renee xoxo said...

I loved the words of the Jewish prayer; so beautiful. Thank you for all that you continue to do and share -- and, by the way (since I read the more recent post first) GOOD JOB MOM (in mothering David and letting him discover Loro Piana; and letting him sit with the longing...)