Friday, August 21, 2015

Ugly, Wonderful Feet

We've just returned from a few days away. As you may know, this is a hard time of year for me. Eight years ago, we sat with Katie as she traveled from this life into the next, right in the room above where I sit typing this now. I find that it's best for me to be out of the house on the anniversary of that day.

This year was one of the hardest, for a variety of reasons (which I'm not going to detail just now). Suffice it to say that I am grateful that August 16th has passed; grateful that we were able to go to a place where my heart knows it is safe, where body, mind and spirit can rest.
The wild west coast of Vancouver Island sings to my soul. My soul knows its song, as if I was born there, or arose from some of the same atoms of creation. It feels like home.
 David flew in to be with us. It was lovely to share a few days off with him.
We walked and walked the shores of the island. Most days, we walked more than eight miles, and one day, more than nine; nine miles of walking barefoot in the sand, in the salty air and sunshine, with a light breeze caressing me. Nothing separated me from the heartbeat of the earth. It was good therapy.
When we returned from that 9-mile walk, I saw that the bottoms of my feet were indigo. A deep, dark blue stained them, yet there had been no trace of blue in the sand. Last year, we saw a huge number of indigo-colored sea creatures which had blown onto the shore, and I wondered if this stain on my feet was a residue of their appearance. No answer to that; just blue feet for about 24 hours. After several washings, the blue disappeared.
My feet have never been beautiful; I have funny-looking, tiny pinky toes and odd, clumsily-shaped large ones. The nails must be painted or you'd never know they were "girls' feet." I have had mixed feelings about them for years, thinking that they are "ugly."
Today, though, I know that they are beautiful; they can carry me nine-plus miles, bare, feeling the sand underneath, the salt, the stones and shells and all that makes up the surface of Mother Earth. Thank you, "ugly," wonderful feet, for solidly supporting me through this life. May you be blessed and healthy, able to carry me through the rest of my days.


Karen said...

A beautiful reflection on your precious girl, her day, your protective getaway, the mysterious blue stain, and the feet that have carried you through many years of missing her and the mysteries of this life. God makes a way through. And He has done so for one more anniversary. That is enough.

Deepest love to all the Gerstenbergers from the Johnsons.

Elizabeth said...

Oh, I love this post -- all your gratitude and sorrow and wisdom and humor gathered up together. Bless you always, Karen. You are one of the most beautiful people I know.

Robin said...

I am so glad that you have this beautiful place in which to roam.

Diane Harrison said...

Thank you for taking me on this journey with you, Dear Karen. I love your writing. I love your soul. I love you, Dear Cousin. I have a date like yours where I struggle not to fall back into my grief. I've gotten through 45 years so far. As you know, it never goes away; why, you wouldn't want it to, then they would be gone forever. Now I hold onto Mom & Dad the same way. I wonder how life can even go on, but it does. Even though a part of you feels dead.
As you know, the family doesn't like to speak of such things, so you bear it pretty much alone. I appreciate your openness about your hugely painful loss of Katie. I wish sometime that we could talk, just the two of us.

Anonymous said...

There are no words for such a journey - either by foot or heart.
Much love to you...

Karen Gerstenberger said...

Thank you for these kind and encouraging comments. I appreciate your thoughts - each one of you. XO

Ann said...

Dear Friend,
I love this post and I love that you strive to find the beauty and good in all things. You are my hero. xo

Karen Gerstenberger said...

Diane, I would love to sit down to listen and talk with you, anytime. Yes, most of the family does not speak of these things, but I couldn't keep it all in and still survive it. With love to you XO

Karen Gerstenberger said...

Thank you, dear Ann - as you are one of mine, too. Onward...xo

ChiTown Girl said...

Such a beautiful post from such a beautiful soul.
I miss you, my friend! :(
I really need to rejoin the Blogosphere.


Pickleball Stuff said...

Nine ladies and I formed a small foundation 18 years ago. This month we made fleece blankets to donate to Katie's Comforter Guild. When my daughter was 11 - 12, she spent a year going back and forth to Seattle Children's and when I told her about Katie's Comforter Guild, she thought that was a terrific idea. I also purchased a copy of your book, "Because of Katie" and cried as I read it. A year ago, I lost my husband to a rare neurodegenerative disease. I cared for him at home and could relate to many of the experiences you described. He felt lucky to have lived 68 years. I have lost my husband, my soul mate and best friend. But it doesn't even begin to compare to losing ones own child. I wish you and your family a growing peace and comfort in knowing that your Katie is still with you. My husband and I were not religious but believed in the possibility of a spiritual afterlife. Several months after he passed away he sent me an unmistakable sign assuring me that he is watching over me.

Wishing you all the best,