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.


  1. I don't even have the words to describe how amazing Karen is. I've only "met" her once in person, but I feel this protective love for her. She has handled life's hurdles with as much grace as anyone could ask for, and then some. I hope that I can get to know her better, and I hope that she can allow me to help her in any way that I can.

  2. Paul, thank you. Words are inadequate to express our thanks to you. Your friendship and your photographs are precious gifts to us (and to many others).

    I hope it's okay that I've borrowed some of your photos (crediting you, of course) to help me tell about Camp on my blog.
    xoxoxoxo from all of us.

  3. If you ask me ONE MORE TIME if you can use my photos for something I'm NEVER GOING TO LET YOU DRINK WINE WITH HEIDI AND ME AGAIN!!!! You can use whatever photographs I've ever taken anywhere for whatever purpose your wonderful heart desires FOREVER!! There. That should clear that up.

    Your family is amazing and I am truly blessed to have you all in my life. AND, looking forward to Saturday!

  4. @ Paul: Okay, in that case, some of them are going on the Hopeful Parents website tomorrow!...and I suggested you as the photog for an ad campaign with SeattleKidsCAN. I'm looking forward to Saturday, too!

    @ Stephanie: you are very kind.