At Christmas, I gave each of the kids something I found among Karen's vast collection (the nice, memorial way of saying "basement full of crap") that I thought she would like them to have. Mike's dad had given us baskets full of old sheets -- Star Wars, Super Heroes, McDonald's, Battlestar Galactica, Peanuts -- that his mom had saved over the years. I had a friend turn those sheets into a quilt for Mike. It's a memory of his childhood and a hug from his mom all at the same time.
So now we've gone a whole year without her. Sometimes it doesn't seem possible. We've been sad, absolutely. Sometimes the tears come out of nowhere.
But we've also laughed, recalling stories of her, thinking out loud what she would think or say in certain situations. That's kept Karen alive for us and for the kids. Mike even started a Pinterest page where we've pinned things that remind us of her or things that she enjoyed.
She would have loved to hear all about Annie's first year of high school, expected phone calls after each of Charlie's basketball games and laughed at the funny things Robbie says. She would have questioned my sanity when I dyed my hair blue and given Mike at least 2 tubs of Vaseline for his dry elbows.
A few weeks ago, I was at the national headquarters of Karen's sorority. While waiting for the person I'd gone there to see, I stood in the foyer of the building filled with memorabilia. It was as if I could feel her there. If it wouldn't have seemed weird, I might have pulled up a chair and just soaked her in for a while.
The next day, I was giving a keynote address at a caregiver event. I was wearing Karen's favorite bracelet and sat down at one of the tables to go over my notes. I looked up and there was a pot of pansies sitting in front of me. Karen's favorite flower. She was there. I can only hope she'll be there in the next several months when Annie starts driving. (Heaven help us all!)
I'm not exactly sure how Karen would have us mark this day. Probably with a trip to the children's museum and a dinner of chicken pot pie. And a lot of laughter.
Mom, Karen, GoGo, Friend
Missed & loved.