Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Today is my parents' 59th wedding anniversary. What a wonderful accomplishment (and a blessing), to have weathered the storms of life, and to still be best friends, living together in a place you enjoy. It has been a difficult summer for them, with the passing of at least four of their contemporaries, and that makes me all the more grateful that they can celebrate this anniversary together. I wish them many more years of love, health and happiness!

Yesterday was Maribeth & Alan's wedding anniversary. We wish them many more years of love, health and happiness together!

Yesterday was also the four-year "anniversary" of Katie's passing. I don't think of it as an anniversary, but I don't know what the synonym for the word would be, under the circumstances. No matter. The day is always marked in my heart. How could I ever not acknowledge that morning, with its events that changed our lives, our hearts, and the shape of our family, forever?

Gregg, David and I have been in Canada for several days. We spent most of yesterday in Victoria, taking a walk early in the morning, eating breakfast harbourside, renting bicycles to ride around James Bay and along the coastal road, and catching the Coho ferry back to the States. We arrived home last night to many kind messages of remembrance. They gave me great comfort.

It doesn't seem to get easier for us to bridge the gap between male and female grieving here, when it comes to the two dates that I always mark: Katie's birthday and the date of her passing. Gregg doesn't want to mark either one; he says that the fact that she isn't here causes the same pain in him every day. Her birthday isn't cause for celebration, to him, because she isn't here to celebrate. The day of her passing is unbearable for him to recall. So I go through these days "virtually" alone, even though we are together - except for all of the kind calls and messages from family and friends, for which I am deeply thankful.

Gregg and I have talked about it, and we will continue to make efforts to be considerate of each other's needs, but it seems to be a fact that we women, who carry our children from the moment of conception and care for them throughout their lives, have a visceral need to mark certain events. It's not an intellectual movement; it's a gut-feeling. I have a need to honor her memory, and this is the way I do it, as of now. I pray to be led to find ways to share these memories constructively with those around me.

The fact that you are here, reading, is a gift that honors Katie's life, whether you met her here on earth or only through my words. Thank you for being bearers of her memory with me.

Our trip was full of love, joy, peace and contentment. We began in Victoria, B.C., and spent a night there before driving up-island to Tofino. My brother and sister-in-law joined us there; it was their first trip to the lodge we love. Tofino is one of my favorite places in the world; it feels like home to me, on a deep, cellular level. Here are some images of our trip...
Jim, Gregg, me, Caroline & David at dinner in the lodge

Caroline with me on the Ucluelet Lighthouse Loop Trail
The wild west coast of Vancouver Island. You can see why there are so many shipwrecks off of this coast!

Interested in slugs? Here are slug facts that I didn't know!

Cara & Jim - outdoor dinner at the Wildside Grill.

David and Gregg and some incredible fish tacos and fish and chips - all the fish was local and freshly caught!

Gregg & me

Outdoor dining area at the Wildside. I love the "fish skeleton" made of driftwood on top of the cabana!

Jim & Caroline enjoying freshly baked cookies while playing cards.

Gregg and David, who is about to teach us to play "13."

My son and me on one of my favorite beaches - barefoot & loving it.

More card games after dinner.
 We had a lovely vacation - the happiest (for me) in recent memory, and I am so very thankful that we were able to take it, and to share it with Jim & Caroline. It was the perfect way to rest and refresh ourselves before the busy days ahead.


Elizabeth said...

It certainly looks like you had a wonderful time -- and so much lighthearted fun, too.

I thought of you all day yesterday -- and thought of beautiful Katie, as well. I think you're so right about mothers and the marking of anniversaries, the marking of time. We do that all the time -- don't we. Even leafing through photo albums, remembering just when something happened -- I totally understand your interpretation and am inspired by the generosity you show your husband and son to do things their way. I know that must be so difficult.

I can't imagine anything but that Katie would do the same --

Much love and many blessings to you --

ChiTown Girl said...

Happy Anniversary to your beautiful parents.

Looks like your trip has been wonderful. I'm glad you had such a lovely vacation.

I think it's incredible that you and Gregg have such an understanding of each others feelings, and are so respectful of those feelings. It's a testament to how truly and deeply you love each other.

AnnDeO said...

I agree about the differences in women and men and how they mark the days of meaning in our hearts. I don't believe either is "best" it is just hard to express the wishes and desires and tenderness that accompany each others feelings. I'm so sorry about the passing of your darling Katie. Each time I hear of her I pray for a different outcome. Does that sound crazy? Maybe, but it is what happens. I hope you are comforted by those that love you and are appreciative and thankful for your brave artful articulate way of being and sharing.

Busy Bee Suz said...

You are surrounded by wonderful people all the time Karen...I suppose wonderful people attract each other?
Your trip looks/sounds beautiful, so glad you had this time to be refreshed so to speak.

Anonymous said...

Your post reminded me of this article I read earlier today. It does seem to illustrate that it's different being a mom than a dad...

I hope you know that I am not comparing the scenarios, but just thought you would enjoy the article and how it supports your "theory" (for lack of a better word).

Dawn ~ BJSMomma said...

Hugs to you & your sweet family! I'd like to think that there standing by Brandon is Kaite...saying the same thing...."look how strong my mom is...look at them enjoying life"...all with a big smile on their faces. I enjoy reading about her, and remembering her with you....kind of make me think that her legacy touches us here in DELAWARE!
Blessings to you!


Kay said...

First of all, happy anniversary to your parents. So sweet. : )

You know the grief thing is hard. My hubby and I rarely say a word about it to each other, although we are both silently going through the same things. There are times I just cry and he lets me do that. Be thankful you had friends etc who will talk to you about Katie during these hard days. I have one friend that acknowledges the two special days. That's it. So I'm glad you have people in your life that commemorate with you.

I'm glad you had a great vacation..I love seeing pics of your smiling faces. : )

Karla said...

You vacation photos are fabulous! You are so not alone in having different ways of coping with loss.

Anonymous said...

Your parents are tremendous, and I wish them many, many more years of healthy happiness together.

I find the "differences" between male and female ways of processing emotions, especially grief and anxiety, so difficult. I'm glad that you and Gregg seem to have found a workable compromise.

I love "remembering" your precious Katie, whom you have so vividly brought to life on this website.

Karen B.

Diane Walker said...

OMG! This is the first I've realized how TALL David has grown!

I'm so glad you spent Katie's day enjoying a place she too would have loved. I'm sure you felt her in the breezes -- even without Gregg's total support, you are never alone.

Karen said...

Katie's Heaven Anniversary and Joey's Birthday are side-by-side, a day apart. I tend to be preoccupied with my own preparation, our family memorial, and "bracing" for the day, but I never forget you or your Katie. Never. I will always remember that beautiful girl that lit up earth and heaven. I can't wait to meet her and I will stand vigil with you till that day.
Much love to a beautiful mama, and big hugs.