Monday, July 5, 2010
One of the strongest women I've ever known
(Karen at the bottom of a pathway just
up from the beach at camp)
This is a photograph I took of my dear friend Karen just moments after she, along with her husband Gregg and son David, scattered the ashes of her daughter Katie in the waters off of Camp Goodtimes on Vashon Island in keeping with Katie's wishes. Katie went, as Karen likes to put it, "kicking and screaming" to camp in June of 2007 and wound up having the time of her life. Tragically, her cancer returned and she passed away only 7 weeks after returning home.
It took three years for her family to be ready to hop into that canoe and paddle out into the middle of Quartermaster Harbor. It was a blustery overcast day and Karen, Gregg and David calmly climbed into the tandem canoes. They invited me along as an extra paddler and I was honored to be included. They are such a loving family. To see Katie's wish be fulfilled by those who loved her more than anyone else was one of the most beautiful things that I've ever seen. It was solemn, it was thoughtful, it was loving, it was an exclamation point on a wonderful life cut short by a terrible disease.
Karen has been such an inspiration to so many people in the time since Katie's death. She has freely opened herself up to share her own personal story in such a way that has already had a tremendous impact on the world. She has written, spoken, and volunteered her way through her own grief journey and in the process has helped inspire others to keep their own hearts open to the struggles that kids continue to endure at the hands of life threatening diseases.
Her strength is mind-boggling.