Friday, August 17, 2012

Life and Death All Mixed Up

It's the end of summer, which means, for one particular group of mothers, tumultuous waves through which to navigate.  

It's all in my sidebar.

Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of Katie Gerstenberger's death.  Katie was twelve when she died of cancer, leaving behind a family who celebrates her life with energy and joy and hope.  It was our privilege to meet them when we went to the Pacific Northwest in June, to enjoy their deck and view of the water, and to walk on their beach (without quite as much exuberance as Katie did!).  Katie's mom, Karen West, does incredible work on behalf of children with cancer ~ but, oh, if only she could know nothing about that world.

Today is Joey Johnson's birthday, which his family has had to celebrate without him four times now. His mom, Karen East (although she's in Hawaii at the moment, so that makes her Karen Further West), is Grandma Extraordinaire to a beautiful group of children, but she also writes candidly of what four-plus years is like:

We aren't the same without him. We are not better people for having lost him. I hope one day we will be, but  for now, we are still piecing our new lives together. I think he would wish it so, probably prays it so, but we are not there yet. I do believe he inspires me to press forward, to try to love and give and forgive more, to release the petty things in my heart, But I am more rigid, bristly, sensitive, demanding, disappointed than I would like.
 Alas, I feel as fragile as glass sometimes. 

But I am committed to the path of following truth and love all they way down the road.
 I want to live well and right, to make my son, who is now part of that great cloud of witnesses,  proud of his mama.  

In a few weeks, it will be the anniversary of the terrible loss of Sarah Scherer to a rogue wave off the coast of Italy.    Her mom, Chris, is yet another remarkably strong and hope-filled woman, embracing life with her (still-new!) husband and family and preparing to return to Italy this fall.  She, too, is beginning to ponder these weeks aloud, in this beautiful post. 

I don't know what I would have done had I not met these extraordinary women.  I am so very grateful that each of them came into my life.

And then there's us.  I'm already celebrating Marissa's 25th birthday, which actually takes place in two days ~ I'm also grateful to be the mother of yet another extraordinary woman.  And then on September 1, it will be Matt's and Josh's 28th birthdays, and on September 2, the fourth anniversary of Josh's death.

We are going to enjoy Ris this week-end, and then a week later I'm going to take some time off.  We're heading for a Lake Erie beach state park lodge for September 2-3; we try something different each year. 

Look for some photos ~ happy ones ~ the next couple of weeks.  I'll leave the eloquence to Karen and Karen and Chris.


  1. May God who is love be very real to you, Robin, and Karen and Karen and Chris and all those who have suffered such loss. May God bring comfort to each of you in a very special way during this time and may you be able to experience God's peace.

    Please know that you are all in my prayers and I'm sure the prayers of many others.

  2. Robin, thank you for remembering with all of us, as we remember with you. Those birthdays hard upon the 2nd of is difficult to wrap my mind around that, and what it must be like for your family. (It is still surprising to me that, though we understand some of each other's grief and experiences, each of us still can say, "I cannot imagine" to the others, and mean it.) I empathize, feel with, send love, pray with you - but I have not walked in your shoes, so I appreciate you articulating it for us.

    Yesterday was hard. Today is better, by Grace.

    It was our privilege to host you - I wish we could have done more for you. It looked like a good trip, all in all - your photos are lovely - and I pray that your upcoming trip & time off will be a balm, a gift, a comfort, as Lynda (see above) has prayed for you.

    If we lived closer, I would suggest a dinner together with you, Karen East and Chris - after September. As it is, know that our thoughts are with you and your family as you walk through these days. xoxo

  3. Such sweet words. God brought us all together and He has given me strength and a pathway through the brokenness because of you four. Holding you all in my heart in the tender days to come in September. I wish it were not so, and grieve for each of my precious bereaved mom friends. I love you all. (and thanks to Lynda for her kindness in the above comment.)