Sunday, June 09, 2013

What Happens Next?

Life has been a whirlwind since my last post. It was the first of May - and May ended up being one of the busiest months I've had in a long time. On the 4th of May, my dear friend and sister Kari went home to be with our Lord. She passed very early in the morning, and things were just as she had wanted them: her family all around her, except for her kids, who were each with a non-family "family" member. She didn't want them to have to see her in that state, and it was her wish that they not have to go through that part of it. Things were just as she wanted. She was completely coherent until the moment she went home.

I got to see her on the afternoon before she passed; she was alert and coherent; however she was unable to speak (unless it was *absolutely* necessary). She "spoke" with raised eyebrows or short vocalizations. She just didn't have the energy. And that was ok. Because we all knew that she knew exactly what was happening. I got to talk to her a bit, pray with her and for her. I thank God for that privilege.

The next week was when the whirlwind started. Because Kari was a part of a quartet that we sang in together, we were asked to sing at the memorial service. 4 of us gals got together for a couple days before the service to practice a song to sing. At different points in the quartet's history, there were 5 of us who sang at different points in time. We've become a little family. This quartet is one of the greatest blessings God has given me in music. The song we chose was "Circle of Friends", because 1), she was such an important part of our lives, 2), we knew how large a circle she had touched, and 3), it was a song that we knew and (some of us) had sung before and could prepare quickly. :) What a blessing, to be able to sing at the service, and God held us up through the entire song - we made it all the way through without any tears. I know there's no other way *I* would have made it through. (Thank you Lord!!)

So on Wednesday we had the memorial service at our church, and what an amazing sight to see how many people her life had touched. The place was packed, standing room only. There were probably over 600 people there. There were people from all walks of life, and so many people had wonderful things to say about her and how she touched their lives. I think every one of her girlfriends felt like Kari was her best friend. That's just how she affected people. I'm not usually one to claim a "best friend", except for my husband. But I know that for me, she was definitely one of my best girl friends - really, she was a sister. I've said it before. It's simply true. She was one of the people who I felt knew me for who I *really* am - not who I used to be, and not what they *think* I am. Just who I am, now, who God has made me. I appreciated that so much about her.

The day after the memorial service, 3 friends and I got in a van and drove to Montana, to be with her family at her graveside service on Friday afternoon. It was one of the most amazing times. On the 8-hour drive (each way), the four of us bonded, shared memories about Kari, and had a wonderful time sharing "Kari's Montana" with each other. The weather couldn't have been more perfect, and what a blessing to be counted as her family, *by* her family. We were so blessed.

The graveside service was very special; the pastor of her parents' church gave a wonderful message, and a gentleman sang "It Is Well With My Soul" afterward - what a sound, hearing all these people, including many family members, singing along, and the truth of the song ringing through the air. It really *is* well with my soul. God is in control, and for some reason, unknown to us at this time, has a purpose to taking Kari home at this time in her life. Although we have to now live with that "unknown", we still have peace because we understand that God's plan is perfect. We trust in him. It is will with our souls.

After the service, as is a tradition in their family, the sharpies came out and everyone who wanted to was allowed to write a little note on the casket. That was so special. At first I wasn't sure what to think about it, but as it turned out, it was amazing. What a wonderful way to send off one more last tangible thought - to say one "last word".

Later that day we returned to Kari's parents' house up on the hill...they have a beautiful place. We sat on the porch, visited, just had a good time sharing together. Later that night we got to experience another family tradition: Pinecone Baseball. What a fun time together with this family that we love and that accepted us as part of their family. When the day was over and we drove back to our hotel, we all agreed that it was one of the best. days. EVER.

Honestly, I wasn't sure I really needed to go on this trip, I felt I probably had enough closure at the memorial service. But I'm so glad I went, it was so healing, and a wonderful way to bond with these 3 amazing women who I also count as very dear friends. I am so thankful for them, even more now than ever, since we had the experience together saying goodbye to our friend and sister, Kareen.

The next day was my birthday; my girlfriends took me to breakfast, and then we "crashed" a birthday celebration to surprise Selah (Kari's youngest daughter, born on my birthday 12 years ago). After that, we drove the 8 hours home and again, had a wonderful time together.

Kari's Montana: Circle of Friends

The next three weeks were filled with busy-ness! I'm not complaining; don't get me wrong. Not at all. It was just busy. And honestly, I'm not used to "busy". Life is not usually like this for me. :)

First, there was a Classical Conversations Parent Practicum. In a nutshell, it's a parent teaching session for our homeschool community. That weekend we went to Dallas (Oregon) to the Parker Estate (my parents' house). We celebrated Emma's 14th birthday on Saturday, and took in one of my mom's band concerts. The next weekend was my annual yard sale, which is always fun, and since Kari was always involved with us, it was another few days of memories (and garbage trucks). The week after that was the last week of May (thank goodness!). A couple of those days included homeschool testing. The state requires us to have our kids tested every year. So by the end of that week, which was the end of the month, I was so ready for May to be O-VER.

I know it's silly, it's just that I felt like once May was gone, I could relax a little bit. And it's true - June has been much better so far. :) I still have to get my house clean this week, but I feel like it's a job that can be done without quite such a busy schedule.

So that's it. That's what's happened since my last post.
It's been a whirlwind, but it's ok. It's life. Full of ups and downs!

So here's my question: What happens next?

What happens after you lose a friend and sister?
After so many of your friends have also lost the same friend?
After people who are family to you, have lost a wife and mother?

Well, what happens next, is that we keep on keepin' on. We keep moving forward, we keep living our lives. I will live one day at a time, and see what happens. I'll pray that I can be a good wife and mother, friend and sister, by the grace of God. And I will remember that He is in control.

I will remember that no matter what, this fact remains:

God is good, all the time.

It's just a fact.

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