Before wrapping up this journey, I had to say thank you to my children for giving me permission to share this behind the scenes look at my 40-plus year adventure with Karen. Karen, of course, is/was the best thing that ever happened to me. She completed me. I was happy to share our life together — for better, for worse — and paint another side of her. And I am so thankful for the hundreds who have followed the journey, laughed with us, cried with us and acknowledged her existence. This was the purpose of the book and posts, sharing her memory with those who follow. This was her legacy.
I chose the songs for Karen’s memorial … a blend of contemporary Christian, with some pop and country. I think she would have pretty much picked the same songs. They all had a special, personal meaning for her … Remember When … I’ll Walk With You and Testify from Touched By An Angel … Ave Marie from the Heavenly Harp CD featuring Erica Goodman, which she slept to during the last few months of her life … How You Live by Point of Grace … and a number of tracks by the Celebrant Singers. One is Be Still, a song that reflects the pain of loss. I don’t know how that made the cut. It was actually one I was going to make sure she listened to had I been the first to go … and it’s ministering to me. Don’t you hate that!
I also picked Because You Loved Me by Celine Dion from the movie Up Close and Personal. Little did I know in her letter to me, Mom wrote, “The song Celine sang, Because You Loved Me, puts into words what I never could. It is how I always felt for you. I love you sweetie. I always have, with all my heart and soul. I’ll see you again in Eternity.”
That’s your mother as seen through my teary eyes. She was a complex woman … sometimes child-like and other times speaking with the wisdom that came with maturity … vulnerable yet strong … compassionate and passionate … anxious yet content … realistically optimistic … unconditionally loving and caring … sentimental yet grounded … cheerful and sad … content yet restless … accomplished … relaxed and stressed … insecure yet secure … self-effacing yet confident.
We all hurt her in so many ways. She may have written some of them down, but she never counted them. In the end, it was her love that shined through.
We had something special. No, we had 40 years of something special. We didn’t agree on everything, but we agreed on the important things. And there was nothing more important to each of us than each other. We always had each other’s back.
We all have some regrets. If I had it all to do over again, I probably would change some of my reactions. I would have listened more, talked more, communicated better. But I don’t think I would have changed anything substantively. I loved your Mom just for being her … the way she was. And I know she loved me for just being me … the way I was … faults and all.
It was a great ride.