Thank you all for your kind comments, emails, texts and Facebook messages over the last several days. Having this community to lean on for support has been invaluable to me.
Picking up the phone or making plans to see a friend in person is not always an option during difficult times like these. It’s very comforting to read a thoughtful email or a kind comment from you. It truly means so much to me and softens this sad experience a bit.
I so wish that I had better news about my sister-in-law’s illness, but I don’t. Karen, passed away peacefully and quietly at her home a few days ago.
|Pere Lachaise cimetiere in Paris, taken in 2010.|
Please let me tell you about her.
She was a firefighter for 29 years and steadily moved up the ranks to Battalion Chief, an achievement in itself but even more so as a woman in such a male-dominated profession. Karen had just taken over a very large territory when she was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2011.
She and her husband, also a firefighter, were married for 23 years. They have four children. She always, always put her family first. Her children were given many opportunities to explore their creative sides. Music, drama and art are themes that have played throughout the children’s lives.
She was very involved in her kids’ school activities and rarely turned down a chance to lend a hand and get involved with their education. She always made it her mission to protect, defend and be a cheerleader for her kids.
Karen had a strong character, was a trustworthy person and was quick to laugh. She always had a story to tell. Her mother told me Karen ‘never met a stranger’ and it was true. She welcomed me into the family when I was dating my husband, and always made me feel comfortable at family gatherings.
During Karen’s illness, she somehow managed to remain positive, hopeful, determined and even cheery. Her motto throughout her fight was “It’s all good”. She was unwavering in her desire to live.
She never declined an invitation to lunch, to the movies, or a party. She embraced life and lived it fully, right up until the time that she could no longer leave the house.
|Out for lunch in Napa Valley, November, 2012.|
If you asked her on any given day how she felt, she would break out her big smile and say, “Great!” Sometimes I believed her and other times I sensed she was putting on a brave face for us; always one to put others before herself.
Karen’s favorite color was purple, so the blog will be purple for a few days in her honor.
Even though she is gone from us physically, I can still sense her spirit and feel the warmth of her hand as I held it just a few days ago. Because of Karen, I aspire to be as brave, positive and determined to live life fully as she did.