Friday, May 1, 2009

The joy of living

Last night, Dave and I went to Karen's wake.

I wept the second we walked in, and decided I could not bear to see her in the casket. So I spoke with her husband (who was shaky yet holding up) and family, but stayed on the other side of the room. Dave went up to her and paid his respects.

After, in the car ride home, I asked him how she looked a million different ways. Dave said she looked healthy. He said she looked peaceful. He said she looked like Karen—as if she were going to get up and start chattering away, as she was prone to.

I needed to know what she was wearing, and of course Dave didn't remember (what guy ever remembers what a woman is wearing), so I called my good friend Paola, who had come, too. She told me Karen was wearing a black silk dress. Her hair was parted to the side. She had on pink lipstick. She was holding a white lace handkerchief and a cross. She looked beautiful.

Rest in peace, my little friend.

If there's one good thing to come out of this, I'd say that it's made me realize I have to stop taking friends for granted and carve out more time to see them. We get so busy with life and activities that friends fall to the wayside. It's a shame that it took a tragedy to make me realize this.

So, that's my vow, in Karen's memory: more time with friends and more appreciation of them. Karen would have approved—she loved to entertain, throw dinner parties and make plans. Please, help me honor her by making some sort of vow that will help you enjoy life more. Do it for me, too: If I know her death made a difference in people's lives, it will feel less like she died in vain.

Photo by Panorama Paul.


  1. I don't take any days for granted. I treasure every one. Your life as you know it can be changed in a blink of an eye. Mine sure was.

    My daddy is getting older, and he has his aches and pains, and my momma, while a bit younger, is moving on up there too. I can't imagine life without them, I'm so glad we have them,not just for the help and support, but for the love, love, love we get from them.

    You never do know how long any of us are going to stay on this big blue marble, so it is important to make the most of every day, enjoy the sun on your face, and spend as much time with your family as you possibly can. Each day is a jewel, and you can never get them back once they're gone.

  2. I'll take the challenge, Ellen! As a matter of fact, I'm going to email me good friend right after I type this. I haven't talked to her in over a month. You're right...we do get wrapped up in our own worlds and forget others. For me, I know I don't spend enough time with nieces and nephews...even my parents. It's easy to blame a busy life...stress...exhaustion. But there's really no excuse. I'm so very sorry for your loss, but thanks for sharing the wonderful lesson that came out of it for you. Your message will change a lot of lives...all in Karen's memory.

  3. Hugs Ellen,
    It's hard to lose anybody, especially a friend.

  4. Oh Ellen, I'm so very sorry for your loss. I've been so busy the last week that I'm trying catch up.

    Hang in there, my friend.


  5. Amen, Ellen. On the flip side, I conjured up the courage to pay my respects to Karen, but I just couldn't face Robert. I just didn't have it in me to say the words "I am so sorry for your loss, the loss of your wife, the mother of your 3 young kids...". Words that I have said many, many times without a flinch. I guess death is interpreted differently by everybody... So, as we move on...and our busy lives seem to overwhelm us...a lesson is truly learned. I'll take the challenge, too, my good friend. Here's to life.... Paola

  6. Sorry to hear you lost a friend. We also lost a very dear friend 2 weeks ago and had to learn the same lesson, it is a hard lesson to learn, but it is so true.

    Following you from MBC

  7. Thanks again, everyone.

    I still am struggling with what happened. What's nice is that at the wake, there was a big May calendar posted so that people could make playdates with the kids and bring the family dinner. We'll be headed there next week with a meal, and having a playdate later in the month. Because I know things are going to get so much harder for Karen's husband after his family leaves.


Thanks for sharing!

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