There are ten children in my family, six girls and four boys.
Now even though my mother and father
had lots of love for all of their children, there were times when it couldn't be shared. My parents, in effort to be fair, paired us up. Each of the younger children was paired with an older sibling. Karen was my "au pair" She was the one that taught me to read and write, had my first birthday party and gave me my first Barbie. Karen took me to my first movie, Blue Hawaii. Okay, later she took me to Bambi, after my Mom gave her what for!!! Needless to say whatever I needed, it was usually was Karen that took care of me.
Long after we were grown and married we still had that special bond. Things weren't always easy for Karen, she had two marriages that fell apart and she struggled to put herself and her two children through school.
She went through a kidney transplant, my sister Linda gave her a kidney, unfortunately I was too young to be a candidate. Thank God that Linda's kidney was like that of a twin, so it worked even before the operation was completed.
Karen became a teacher and an artist, we did a lot of creative things together. She would inspire me to push the limits. I learnt how to do pottery and to do pysanky and to paint and sculpt.
Our children grew up together and while Karen encouraged them in the arts, I taught my niece to cook and bake, to sew and be creative in other ways from how Karen taught her. I took my nephew to the beach, packing an enormous picnic basket full of goodies. Later he would tell me that was one of his best memories he's had.
Even though we would have a differences, cause we did, we still managed to stay friends and love each other for who we were. I always felt that I could achieve anything because Karen made me believe in myself.
So when I met my new husband, Ted, the Dutchman, of course I wanted them to meet. Now you have to know Karen did not usually like any man, she had one bad outlook of men and they all fell into that one category.
The first time they met my sister said," Hi, I'm Karen and I have terminal cancer".
I was devastated, not only because she was dying, but because after a failed marriage of twenty five years to an alcoholic, I had met the best friend I ever had and Karen LIKED him!
When the call came from my niece to say Karen wouldn't make it the night, the Dutchman drove me three hours to the hospice, and waited for me while I sat with her through the night.
Karen wasn't speaking vocally, but her eyes were saying volumes. Looking at her, staring into her huge brown eyes while she was taking her last breath is an image that is forever etched in my heart. I couldn't help her and she was struggling so hard to breathe, her eyes were filled with all the unspoken things that we didn't get a chance to talk about. No matter how I try to tell myself that you can't go back, it's all there, right before your eyes, the whys and should haves. Please God, let her understand how much I loved her and I want her to be at peace.
She took one final deep breathe and then closed her eyes...... my sister Lois and I looked at each other and then at Karen's children, it was over...... she's gone.
It was so hard to lose my Mom and now my Karen and I struggle with it everyday. I know that time has passed and I can almost talk about her without that huge lump in my throat. There are moments when I hear her voice or I pick up the phone to tell her of my latest project, and then I remember. I lost my desire to make or create anything for a long time, it has only been since the Dutchman has come into my life that I have been inspired.
I wish that my other sisters weren't so far away, I wish that my niece was closer and that her daughter could get to know me better. Life just doesn't always work that way, I want to be the one shopping with their Mom or sister, enjoying Mother's Day.
Instead I make excuses and retreat to my sewing room and try to immerse myself in a project, I ignore the tears that fall and the huge wave of sadness that threatens to ruin my day. I pray for God to ease the pain and grant me closure..... I loved Karen with all my heart and I wanted to say on this Mother's Day, take an extra moment to hug and kiss your Mom or your sibling, and say,"I love you"...... and mean it with all your heart......