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Remembering Karen

August 22, 2012

It was a Wednesday. I had taken the week off of work to spend some time with Gabe at a conference in San Diego. We were home and I had three whole days left of vacation in which I had nothing scheduled.

It was morning. I was at Valley Fair, in the Gap, standing in front of a display of men’s jeans and thinking about getting some for Gabe when my phone rang.

It was my brother. And she was gone.

August 23 is a liberation day of sorts. A day in which a life that had been smothered was delivered. A day in which ten years of sorrow and grief were finally set free.

It was the day I started to breathe again, gulping great gasps of air into lungs compressed by guilt and the weight of my mother’s illness for nearly a decade. With fresh air came the ability to grieve, to cry the gallons of tears I’d been holding inside too long. And finally, to remember. Remember what life was like before. Remember how good she was, how gracious and elegant and kind.

Remember my best friend, closest confidant, nearly identical, slightly older self.

While August 23 isn’t the day on which I do most of my remembering – that day is always and forever will be Mother’s Day – it is a day that is indelibly marked. Please indulge me for a few days of remembering.

Earlier this year at a speaking engagement, I met an old friend of my mother’s. Muriel touched my cheek and whispered kind words. She told me how like her I am. A few weeks later she sent me this letter, and this card. By sharing these with you, I hope you can get just a tiny glimpse of who she was and why she is so very worth remembering.

You are absolutely right. There are no goodbyes forever, mom. 

I remember.

My Dear Adelle,

Here is the card that your mother sent me before I left San Jose. Had I been more clever, I would have been able to use my computer and printer to duplicate it as a card. But I’m not! Besides, my computer went kaput last night and I’m waiting for a replacement part to be shipped to me. So, I hope this will be satisfactory. As you can see, I still have one of those ancient machines called a typewriter.

I don’t know what she meant by learning from me because it was quite the other way around. Don’t remember how I was talked into helping her with the five-year-old class on Wednesday nights because I am definitely not a “kid” person! It was an experience. Her patience was incredible.

God has given you a special gift. It is so gratifying to watch you using it to bless others.

God Bless you and your family!
Muriel

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. Lisa permalink
    August 22, 2012 7:55 am

    Wow!! I loved seeing her writing again! So many times I would say I wanted to be just like her! She was robbed of so many years and all of you were robbed of this time in her life. I am truly sorry for that! She made such an impression on me growing up. Both your parents did! My parents raised me but it couldn’t have been done without Karen and Bob Stone!!

    • August 22, 2012 8:09 am

      Thank you for helping me to remember, Lisa, and filling in the spaces where I don’t! Love you!

  2. Bethany Hall Fitelson permalink
    August 22, 2012 9:56 am

    This is so sweet and beautiful. I’m so glad you have that little piece of your mom in a card sent to a friend, and I am glad that now you can remember her for who she was and not what the disease was. Thank you for always being so open and vulnerable about your mom and your loss. Love you!

  3. August 22, 2012 10:36 am

    In the midst of mourning my beautiful mother – while she still lives, in the downward spiral of dementia and confusion – this is a beautiful, poignant post. I don’t remember the details of your mom’s illness, just that it was long and hard – and way too soon. Many blessings as you celebrate who she was and mourn what might have been.

  4. August 22, 2012 11:12 am

    Adelle—so sorry for all the years of her illness, for all the grief you had to contain. I know the loss never goes away—why would we ever wish it away?? But I pray you find deep peace in who your mother was, and who she is with now!!

  5. August 22, 2012 1:09 pm

    Your comments are all so very kind. Balm to my soul! I don’t wish the loss away – Leslie, you are so very right. It’s a pain I’m eager to hold on to because with its weight is the weight of her value. It is a good pain, and it is temporary. Thank you to those of you who remember, too, for keeping her memory fresh.

  6. Robert T. Stone permalink
    August 22, 2012 3:07 pm

    Adelle, I am so sorry for your loss. You, however, are a gift from Karen that keeps on giving. Your beauty, your elegance, your love, your spirituality, your sensitivity all reflect much more of her than any of us deserve. Yet you are yourself, not a mini-Karen, but a thing of beauty we had a part in forming – a testament to who and what she really was and who and what we will see again in eternity. Dad

  7. August 22, 2012 3:43 pm

    Okay, now. This comment from your dad? Stunning. It made me cry. Honest. What a gift for a father to give his adult daughter. You and Karen did good, Mr. Stone. Yes, indeed.

  8. August 23, 2012 8:43 am

    Amen to what your dad said and grateful praise for the privilege of knowing your mom through you and through him and having you in my life. I remember that August day and my deep desire to comfort you. But there were no words nor way. What an amazing loving act of deliberate foreknowledge and divine intervention by our God that I could be there, even though we had moved away 4 months before. I knew you were more than okay to watch you over the next few days as you dealt with her death but still supported close friends in their wedding with dignity and grace. I love you and I love your family, always will. Your PattyB

  9. Kari Coppinger permalink
    August 24, 2012 9:54 am

    Wrote stuff. Stuff disappeared. It wasn’t all that eloquent but I can’t seem to return it to my brain. So, I shall simply say thanks for sharing.

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