As I sit here and write, I am forced to reflect on how different the world is now, than it was even a few months ago, let alone how different it is without Karen here to help weather the storms.
I did not arrange for a gathering at the house this year to celebrate Karen’s birthday, but that’s not because it shouldn’t be tradition, but because it isn’t appropriate this year, with everything going on in the world. Some of our dear friends are in high risk groups for COVID-19, and are concerned about their health. It didn’t seem right to me to schedule an event when I knew some couldn’t come, and didn’t want to tempt anybody to take chances they weren’t comfortable making otherwise. Karen would have been disappointed if I had. With her medical conditions she was in a high risk group for everything, and she would have been the first to put a halt to having a gathering in her honor.
I’m okay without having a birthday gathering for Karen this year. I get to talk to people who knew her when I’m at work, and when at play, so the birthday gathering isn’t primarily for me. The people around me mention her with regularity, and I get to talk about her all the time, to people who loved her. Although I’m okay, I’m sorry I couldn’t host a gathering for Karen, for you, this year.
I talk out loud about Karen all the time, and often with a tear in an eye. I have probably shared a thousand “one of my favorite things about Karen” tales, and appreciate that people don’t point out that they can’t ALL be one of the favorites. If I can’t have a thousand favorite things, perhaps I can at least have them be the favorite thing of the things I wanted to share at the time.
In the name of full disclosure, there is probably a list of things I liked least too, but those are almost certainly tied to my own failings, and worth mentioning only among friends, and with laughs, or not being mentioned at all. Don’t worry, it’s not that you, the person reading this, isn’t a friend, but there are others who may read this, and I’m certainly not going to enumerate those failings of mine to those people. I’m sure you understand.
Today, one of my favorite things about Karen was her ability to help those around her become the best possible version of themselves. She was a person who could raise others up, and it made her happy to do so. That’s something I noticed about her shortly after meeting her, but I’m not sure that people who knew her in other contexts know that about her. She genuinely, to the bottom of her heart, liked helping people flourish.
Some people might try to encapsulate that as simply being a teacher, but that doesn’t quite sum it up. Yes, she was an instructor at heart, whether it was teaching CPR, or providing some other sort of wisdom. But it brought her joy to impart her knowledge. And this was true even when it wasn’t easy. She would always stay as long after class as necessary, if a student wanted to learn. She would always help a student pass the course, no matter what it took, as long as they wanted to learn what she had to offer.
It was no different with any of the other million things that she could teach those around her. She was happy to share, and it brought her great happiness when people used the things she taught them. She had a calling.
Happy Birthday Karen.
An epilogue for this post…
I worked hard on her wildflower fields over the last year, and they have just started to bloom. I picked a few of the first blooms to show here on the blog, but will make a post in another couple weeks when the rest start to open. There are a lot of buds about ready to flourish. I’m hoping that it will be glorious this summer.