Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Lighting a Candle and Saying Goodbye

You know that feeling when your blood turns to ice with the apprehension that something is wrong, really wrong?  On October 25th, Bobby received multiple messages on Facebook from his sister, Sarah, as well as many of her friends to contact Sarah as soon as possible.  In talking with Sarah we learned that his stepmother, Karen, had been hospitalized.  She has battled a chronic lung disease for years, but was working on getting accepted for a lung transplant.  When we first heard of her hospitalization, we were worried but were hopeful that she has been such a fighter for so long that she would continue to fight and recover.  We were able to talk with her over the phone a couple of times while she was in the hospital.  On one occasion, being a devoted Catholic, she asked Amelie to light a candle for her.

On October 28th, we went to the biggest Catholic church in Barcelona, the Barcelona Cathedral.  We have been to this Cathedral many times.  It is one of our favorite cathedrals that we have been able to visit during our travels.  We headed for the cloister with small chapels, gardens, fountains, and even geese.  We purchased the largest candle available.  Amelie and Bobby, with Liam watching closely, lit the candle for Karen at the Maria of Lourdes chapel, the patron saint of the hospitalized.  We sat on the steps and prayed for Karen as a family.   

The cloister was beautiful.  We knew Karen would love where we chose to light the candle.  Although it was very hard being so far away knowing she was very sick, she continued to cheer us on and encourage us to continue living our adventure and travel.

As we left the church and were heading towards home, we happened upon a violinist playing in a small area outside of the church.  Amelie and Liam ran around while Bobby and I sat deep in thought.
One of our doubts about traveling for a year was confirmed on November 3rd when Karen passed away. She has been a part of Bobby's life for 25+ years. Although she will be sorely missed, there is peace knowing her pain is over. We are taking comfort in knowing we'll meet again some day.

Her funeral is to be held this Friday, Nov 8th.  Here are the words we would have liked to share with her at her service:

"You were an amazing woman!  Your perseverance in the presence of hardship is not easily matched.  Thank you for always being so welcoming of me.   Your example of a peaceful attitude and acceptance with your circumstances has taught me a lot.  You will be missed.  You will not be forgotten.  I am thankful that you are no longer in pain or are suffering." ~Kelly

"One of my first memories of Karen was when I was seven.  We were at my dad's for the weekend, and I was hanging out with my future stepbrothers.  At that age, I was aware that I knew pretty much everything there was to know.  So, when the boys approached me to see if I knew what sex was, I knew that they were making it up.  When they then explained it to me, I was 100% certain they were pulling my chain.  We immediately ran to Karen, and either Stephen or Daniel said, "Mom, tell Bobby that sex is a word."  I'll never forget how ghostly pale her face went, but two seconds later she said, "Yes, but ask your father."  The reason I share that with you was because it is a great example of what a lady Karen could be.  There are so many more answers she could have given, but the mannerisms exhibited when answering me stuck with me all these years. 

If that side of my family is like a bicycle wheel, Karen was the hub and we all were the spokes (dad included).  I have a sister, three step-brothers, and a half-brother, and we have known each other almost our whole lives. We all share a past, but our personalities are quite diverse. At different times, as life has gotten busier, we just like spokes have moved further away from each other.  But the common link that has always brought us all back together has been Karen.  Our hub may be physically gone, but this event and her memory has already forced the spokes close together again.    Karen loved every single one of her "spokes", even, and especially, when we didn't deserve it.  In fact, each of us have had times where it may have been close to impossible to still love us, and yet she did it.

Karen was a devout Catholic, and the Catholic process of sainthood includes having heroic virtue.    If loving this rugged band of misfits called my family doesn't count as heroic virtue, then I don't know what does.  Thanks for the love you have given throughout the years.  We love you Karen, and we'll miss you." ~Bobby

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