Today it has been four years since my beloved cousin Karen passed away. The only thing that makes life bearable without her is knowing I will be with her again some day. The remembrances below were originally posted in 2012, but you are invited to share this celebration of her with me again today.
Karen was my cousin by blood; we were sisters and soul mates by heart. Indeed, she often referred to me as her “baby sister.” She was so full of life, always managing to stay upbeat during difficult times. She always had a hug for folks. Dave remembers the first time he met her; the first thing she said to him was “Sorry, I have a broken hugger.” She had injured her shoulder and could not give a proper hug.
What can I tell you about Karen and I?
Camping back in “the day” - Karen on the right, me on the left - Don't ask why we were grinning . . . it was the 70’s, okay?
Although seven years older than me, she always had time for me when we were kids. She put me on a see-saw for the first time. I got to go barefoot for the first time because she was. We had a connection . . . inexplicable, deep, straight, true and everlasting. We had such escapades as kids which carried over into adulthood. We were both kids at heart . . . kids who knew what hard blows life can deal one and what joys were to be found in simple things.
During more recent years, starting when we were both single in 2002, we would say when we would get together we were just going to "be." Our lives were hectic enough, so we were just going to enjoy "be-ing" together, enjoying the moment, chilling out, enjoying each other.
She was with me at my home in Brenham that Christmas Eve in 2004 when Dave called me for the first time. That evening we watched a James Bond movie marathon, waiting for the rare Texas snowfall, and played Christmas carols on kazoos we had found at a local wee old-fashioned toy store earlier in the day.
Karen was diagnosed with Stage IV stomach cancer in December 2008. She underwent three chemo sessions and then testing to see if the chemo had any effect on the tumor. During that time, Dave was so understanding and supported my decision to take our travel trailer and go visit her for a long weekend, my first solo trip with the rig Dave and I had back then.
Karen and I spent one day together during that time, our final “be-ing” time together. We laughed until we cried and cried until there was nothing left to do but laugh. We talked about Life, Death and silly, trivial things. We talked Truth. At times, she talked and I listened. We had always made a point of saying, “I love you,” but this time was special; this was it. There was nothing left unsaid between us, no “I wish I told them . . .” I am so, so very grateful for that time.
On the eighth anniversary of my surgery for breast cancer, she called me to tell me the chemo was not working and hospice was recommended. Karen went camping with friends that weekend, determined to LiveStrong her remaining days.
Karen left this Earth on May 26, 2009, six months from diagnosis to passing. She was 57 years old.
She loved her motorcycles (she had two) and her biker friends, and derived such pleasure from riding and her involvement in the Christian Motorcyclists Association and East Texas Motorcycle Enthusiasts. Having this “thing” about frogs all her life, her biker name was “Tree Frog.”
Much of who I am is because of Karen’s love and presence in my life. She surely helped shape me into the woman I am today.
Karen literally died with a smile on her face. I find that comforting . . . knowing that she was peaceful as she left. It’s also comforting to know that one really can leave with peace and joy . . . it really does happen.
It is hard to believe it has been almost three years; I am still blindsided at times with missing her. A piece of me is gone, yet still here, for I carry her love with me and feel her presence often.
Me and the Cuz – Pink Ribbon and Tree Frog – I did not know about these two pins on her motorcycle vest until I saw them at the visitation on the eve of her life celebration service. I confess I had to leave the building to compose myself. As always, Tree Frog had a protective, loving placement over me, the Pink Ribbon.
Like she did so often in our lives, Karen is now blazing the path for me yet once again. I am comforted to know she will be waiting for me when my time comes. I look forward to seeing her again in a brighter place.
Thanks for stopping by!
I am a Warrior, much of which is attributable to Karen’s influence throughout my life.