Monday, March 8, 2010

Happy 15th Birthday, Katie!

Dear Katie,
Happy 15th birthday, Sweetheart! You have been a source of light and joy in our lives since the moment we first knew you were coming. We love you and miss you, and wish that you were here so we could spoil and celebrate you today!
Grandma & Kappa sent a lovely card with prayers, and a gift to cheer me, and then they made a donation to your endowment; the Katie Gerstenberger Endowment for Cancer Research at Seattle Children's Hospital will now be around the $100,000 mark. Dr. Park and her colleagues will continue to use the income to work on finding cures for solid tumors like the one you had, which is what I know you wanted your endowment to do.
I'm going to take a walk with Kathleen (Hayden & Gunnar's mom) today. Daddy doesn't know what he wants to do on your birthday, so David and I will decide...we'll watch some of your favorite movies; maybe we'll let 15 balloons go from your bench in Waterfront Park, and get a cake from DQ.
Daddy & I talked about what to do this year - how to celebrate your day without you. Last year was awful; he was not "on board" with what we did, but he didn't have any other ideas to suggest at the time. If I showed you some of the photographs from the day, you would see it clearly in his body language. He doesn't like to try to recreate the kind of day that you would like, since you're not here to enjoy it. Frankly, nothing that we have done on your birthdays (since you passed) has felt good to him, or to me. Nowadays, he leans more toward making a donation to your endowment, rather than eating dinner at Il Fornaio, or letting balloons go over Liberty Bay.
I wish I could take you shopping (would you still be a Nordstrom girl at 15?), out for a girls' lunch and to get a pedicure at the spa. I'd love to spoil you, so you could be "princess for the day." I wish we got to do that more often; I will always miss the many days, events and years that I assumed would be ours to share.
I love you and miss you, Sweetie. Every single moment, every single day, you have my love with you. Happy 15th Birthday, gorgeous girl! You made our family complete, and we treasure the gift of your life.
Love, Mom
I have many dates burned into my mind: the day Katie was admitted to the hospital (10/10/2006); the date of her diagnosis (10/13/06); the dates of her surgery to remove the tumor (2/21/2007 to 2/22/07); the day we found out she was going to die (7/20/07): the day she passed away (8/16/07). Her birthday is the happy day that is burned into my mind. Yet it is difficult to celebrate it without her, because she should be here to enjoy it, receiving the love and attention of her family and friends. So today is a day of mixed emotions, to say the least.
 I'm thankful for
this beautiful gift of flowers from Elizabeth and
Sophie (who shares the exact same birthday as Katie:
Happy 15th Birthday, Sophie!)
and for
the lovely card, prayers and gifts from my parents
for the understanding and love of my husband and son
(Katie's father and brother). 

I am also thankful to have this:


Robin said...

Happy Birthday, Katie. You are as beautiful as your mom, and you fill the world with such joy, even in your heartbreaking absence.

Lakeland Jo said...

I am sitting here full of tears. What a beautiful post. I can't imagine what it must like for you today. I admire that you are doing something happy and positive. I am sure that is what your lovely daughter would have wanted, and does want for you now.
Pete is fifteen this week- on Wednesday. Your loss is really brought home to me. I send you lots of prayers and hugs.

Daisy said...

(((((Karen and family))))

I'll be thinking of you guys today.

Happy birthday, Katie!


Busy Bee Suz said...

I love the happy video too Karen.
Hugs to you and your family today...I pray that you have a better birthday for Katie today than last year.

Clippy Mat said...

Happy 15th anniversary of giving birth to your beautiful daughter. In spite of the pain and sorrow, you also have some wonderful memories. I hope they comfort you and keep a smile in your heart today.
Love and God Bless,
Pat x

Kay said...

I know what you mean about not knowing what to do with birthdays. They really are weird and it's hard to go about feeling festive when the person you're celebrating isn't there. I love the video of your family pix. So precious.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you Karen.
Lv, Carin

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Katie! I only put two and two together now that she shares the same birthday as Sophie. The world is a small place, no? Thinking of you, your family and precious Katie today.

Paul said...

Beautiful words Karen. A big hug from the Dudleys and Happy Birthday Katie!

Angie Muresan said...

A beautiful tribute to the beautiful spirit of your daughter. What a wonderful mom you are, Karen.

Karen said...

So many painful reminders with the loss of a child--days that don't fit into any of the boxes you used to have. They need a special box all their own--they are days to give thanks for what was, weep over what never came to be, and to leave a sacred unfilled spot in your life that nothing can fill till Heaven. No wonder there is no way to "celebrate". But we all love beautiful Katie and honor her here today, and grieve for you all, and thank you for letting us be part of it.
Love and hugs as big as they come.

ChiTown Girl said...

Happy Birthday, Katie! I know you'll be smiling down on your birthday party later. :)

I will no longer ever forget Katie's birthday. I don't know why I didn't make the connection last year! Here birthday is the day after my grandma's (Happy Birthday, Grammy) who has been gone for almost 7 years now. And, Katie's birthday is on the 8th, just like mine (May 8) and my sister's (Sept. 8) It is etched in my memory for good now!!

Karyn said...

Tears, tears, tears... Happy birthday to Katie. Big hugs from me, Bev & Elvis. xx

Elizabeth said...

What a beautiful tribute to Katie -- I will always honor her on this day, blessed that I have grown to know you in a small way and honored by your incredible spirit.

Love and peace to you, Karen.

KBL 2 ORD 2 SAN 2 LUV said...

Dearest Karen,

My calendar is on our fridge. A friend was over last week and asked who Katie was? She is marked on 3/8. I have many birth dates marked on my calendar, but I've never before had the birthday marked of someone I'd never met, or of someone who has passed on.

Now, I have not only Katie's birthday marked, I also have August 16th marked. I was in flight, returning from our honeymoon in Europe, and I remember talking to Katie up there in the clouds. It was August 16, 2008, and I wondered how you were holding up on that dark first anniversary.

My calendar has been that way for a couple of years now, and it's hard to imagine it's been that long already. Harder still, to imagine how long it must feel for you.

Unfortunately, I've known many loved ones, human and canine, afflicted and at times, defeated, by cancer. I cannot explain why Katie's story has just seared itself in my brain, in my heart.

Perhaps it's the way you've told it?

Your tireless work, your insightful posts, and your emotional photos...all in her memory, in her honor.

Is that why Katie lives within me so?

I don't have the answer. I don't suppose it matters anyway. Because all that does matter is that she's important to me, and her history lives.

Thank you for sharing your beautiful child's story with us. I closed the office door and sat and cried.

As I read.

I prayed for you, for Gregg, and for David, that you all will continue to share strength in your loss.

And I prayed for Katie.

May the comforting hands of the angels always soothe her, may she have peace until she meets you again. For the first time. As she did 15 years ago today.

isabelkhan said...

What a beautiful video of your life. You look so happy. You have such a wonderful mommy. Happy Birthday, Katie.

Tracey Axnick said...

Lovely post, Karen.... and a Happy Birthday to your ever-beautiful, ever-young Katie! :)

Love, Hugs and Peace to you my friend.

Mary said...

A beautiful letter and such wonderful pictures too. Happy Birthday Katie -- you continue to touch so many lives!

Lots of love to you, Karen.

Anonymous said...

Karen, I read your post with much emotion - I'm stuck for words to comfort appropriately - but as another milestone passes, I pray that your family stay close and that your memories of your darling stay fresh and precious. Sending thoughts across the Atlantic to you and yours - Irene x