Keeping it Real: August 16th

I will always strive to “keep it real” in my daily life, in my heart, thoughts, speaking, actions – and that includes my writing.

Tomorrow is the 16th of August, one of the worst days in my life and the life of my family. It is the day on which Katie passed away, five years ago. There is no way to sugarcoat that memory, and no reason to do so. It just is.

It is hard.

It is searing.

It is a tearing-away memory.

It is not easy to watch the images flashing across the screen of my mind, however gently Katie passed – and she did pass gently, by Grace. She still stopped breathing, and her spirit left her body, inert and lifeless, lying on her bed in her own room, while we sat beside her. Just.stopped.breathing.

I asked Gregg and David what they were thinking about the approaching date. They were both quietly aware, both reflective. David mentioned going somewhere that Katie loved, but is scheduled to work that day, so he can’t. Gregg said very little, and will go to work as usual. This is typical for the two of them.

We were on vacation last week in one of my favorite places on earth. I noticed there that I was clinging to David when he did anything that seemed even remotely dangerous. We did a lot of hiking, and he did some rock climbing. If he was standing near the edge of a steep cliff, or on the edge of a long drop-off in a high wind, I had to look away. I begged him to play it safe. This is not normal for me, but I felt the trauma of letting Katie go stealing my own breath away whenever I looked at David on the edge of something that could take his life.

I do not want to keep him tied in any way. But I cannot bear the thought of watching him die. This is reality, and it probably makes his life a bit difficult, but there it is. I have come a long way in five years, but I have a long way to go, one step at a time.

On this trip, we went to the same beach which you see in this photo.Image

I always miss Katie powerfully when we do things that she loved. Here she is, picking up treasures.


And here we are on that beach without her, seven years after the photos above were taken, and five years after her passing:


We had a wonderful time on our vacation. This is the place to which we retreated immediately after Katie’s Celebration of Life, so it has mixed memories for me. It is a place of happy family memories, solace, of peace, of emotion and of joy in the incredible vastness of creation. It’s on the open ocean (Pacific), and you cannot help but feel small and in your place in the great food chain when you stand next to old-growth trees and peer at the unending horizon, read about many shipwrecks on that wild coastline, and see a whale surfacing in its summer feeding ground. I felt frequent, overflowing gratitude for the privilege of being there.

When I went to sleep last night, at home for the first time in nearly a week, Katie came to me in my dreams. I don’t recall the dream, but I certainly felt her sweet presence.

Travel is a great conduit for joy for us (yet there is no place like home). Shortly after Katie’s passing, it was difficult for me to move off of our comfy yellow couch, but now I like to get out more.

How about you? Does travel help, or hurt you after a catastrophe?

Has this changed over time?

11 thoughts on “Keeping it Real: August 16th

  1. What a beautiful photo of you and your men!

    I know as difficult as tomorrow is going to be for you, you will still be able to smile because Katie’s love will be shining through any sadness.


  2. Karen, I got up a little while ago and wondered immediately, “Is this the day?”

    Sending you buckets full of love as you remember your beautiful child and the joy she brought into your lives.

  3. When I saw the photo of David on the cliff a few days ago…I gasped as well. Seeing him so close to danger hurts my heart….and I’ve not lost a child or am even related to him! Love seeing these photos…then and now. YOU are so full of grace and love.
    Sending love to you and your family.
    xo Suz

    • Thank you, Suz – I think most moms could see it from my vantage point! And thank you for your loving thoughts. Love to you.

  4. Karen,

    Your new site is beautiful, truly lovely. On my way to work today, I remembered that it is Katie’s five year anniversary. You are in my heart and my thoughts. You have done a wonderful job of finding and living with joy and gratitude in this new life, but I know the heartache that you feel as well – and also know how very much you miss your sweet girl, your beautiful Katie. I’m so sorry.

    with love and understanding, Carol Herrmann, Caroline’s mom

  5. Travel is such a sweet blessing. Scuba has been a meditation for me. All you concentrate is your breathe… peace and lightness and beautiful creations surrounding you.

    I am enjoying your new site. I am sorry about your lovely daughter. I look to your example of abundant living as a comfort. Thank you.

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