10 Jul Friday, July 10, 2009
Hello to everyone:
Jeff here and I hope this finds everyone well. Just wanted to take a moment to once again thank everyone for all the cards, letters, and emails since the loss of our Kari. As many of you know, I went back to work in mid May, and Jennifer, the kids and me have been pushing forward. It seems that each day, somewhere, sometime, I run into someone who wishes to convey their sympathy with regard to Kari. It is very nice to know that so many people are still thinking about our family. I don’t really know if it is appropriate or even meaningful to continue this journal. I have so many times written down an event, a remembrance, or just a quick thought that occurred throughout the day but each time have decided not to post it on this site. I really don’t know why, but amazingly, I seem to lose my nerve. I know, shocking! It’s even hard for me to believe but none the less, accurate. however, tonight I will continue and place a few thoughts out there- not for any particular reason mind you, but just because….
I reflect back on the day Kari died and almost immediately feel a deep pit in my gut. The memories return, the emotion is overwhelming, and the images are vivid. However, one thing that seems to dominate my thoughts is the future. Having lost Kari just 99 days, 9 hours, 16 minutes, and 35 seconds ago (but who’s counting…), seems on one hand, like yesterday, but in many ways seems like a lifetime. Out of concern and a need to try and say the right thing in a tough situation, many people tell me repeatedly that time will make it better and to just hang in there. With no anger or resentment, I think therein lies the problem. For me, and this is just me speaking now, time has really a different meaning at this point. Let me explain.
Remember when you were in grade school and you couldn’t wait until you were in middle school. Then, almost without noticing, there you were in middle school and couldn’t wait to get to high school. Then, there you were, in high school, and then, almost instinctively had just as much desire to get out of high school to start work or college or whatever. I think we have all been there but it really seemed like time was moving at just a snail’s pace- so slow that event superman was powerless. Then as we matured, became busy and pre-occupied with daily responsibilities, time speeds up and before you notice it your 30 or 40 years old, have a few kids and suddenly stop and ask yourself, where did time go? For me, this occurred a few years back and I remember talking with Jennifer saying to her that I had realized, rather innocently that my life was more than half over. I think I was in my late 30′s, perhaps 38 or 39, but quickly approaching the magic number 40. And if you do the math and look at the numbers, I should die sometime in my late 60′s or 70′s. I can recall thinking, “Wow, where has time gone, what do I have to show for the first half of my life.” I mean I had a good job, great family, a few close friends, but had the sense that I really needed to kick my life into high gear as it felt like I was on the backside the peak. Then, Kari was born and my life seemed even shorter because in the process of going through Kari’s first surgery and hospitalization, my focus changed from what do I need to do in a short time, to there’s not much time to spend with this new child and my 2 other almost teenage kids. There literally did not seem to be enough hours in the day- I would sit back and NOW think, “time is literally flying by”. Instead of trying to get superman to fly around the word to speed it up, now I was wanting him to reverse direction, and slow the dang thing down! weird, I know. Life seemed so short, almost too short to really figure things out in time to really have an impact because by the time we usually figure it out and begin to enjoy our life and appreciate it for what it is, we have crossed over the peak and feel like we have thrown away the first half- sort of a gimme…. Now this may not be the case for all of you, but I distinctly remember this realization just 18 or so months back.
Then, April 7, 2009 was upon me. Kari died, and we left the hospital. I can recall walking down the hallway as my brother and I carried out all the stuff we had taken to the hospital. We had a few bags of Kari’s favorite toys, her radio, her blanket, clothes, and many pictures, signs and a “Blues Clues” balloon that we had tied on her bed (she loved to watch blue’s clues). I think I expected things to somehow be different- perhaps the hallway should be a different color, the shades should have been drawn, the activity should have been different but as I walked away, it was not different- the halls looked exactly the same! “Why is everyone acting like nothing has happened” I thought. “How can they just keep doing what they were doing?” It just seemed like life should have stopped for everyone, like it had for us. But of course, it didn’t. Then, as we were leaving the hospital after painfully packing the car, it hit me. Life had not really stopped it had just slowed down once again to that ever so familiar “snail’s pace”. However, this time instead of wishing to be promoted to another grade level or professional position, all I could think about was when I would see that beautiful smile, those blue eyes, or to feel her warm little body as she reached out to give me a hug while we sat in the living room chair…….. Instead of thinking life was ALREADY half over, my thoughts almost instantaneously and without warning became, “my life is ONLY half over”. It seems like an eternity when I can see her again or hold her again. Life feels almost like an inconvenience, a detour that is placed in the worst place at the worse time- the time when you are already late and are trying to speed to save each second to make the appointment but are hopelessly deadlocked behind the slowest, most uniformed driver. You know, how dare they not know that I am in a hurry, why don’t they get out of the way! Funny how things change, isn’t it?
The only source of comfort someone may have in this situation is their faith in God. That’s it- without it I really cannot imagine how someone can push forward without this hope.
We have received so many emails from people saying that Kari’s story was inspiring and offered them hope, or perspective or any number of things that I thought I would write a little. I have always said that Kari was a miracle- I do still believe this and have stated that Kari was the vehicle, and perhaps I was the messenger. Well for now, the message continues and will continue until it is done. I made a lot of promises and deals with God when Kari was sick and one of them was to keep going until I felt I should stop. No, I don’t see people flying around in my house, but a deals a deal.
By the way, Kari’s Heart Foundation has its first event on August 8th at Winged Deer Park in Johnson City. we have a huge day of kids activities planned that are FREE to everyone. The radio station (WXBQ) will be there, bands, dunk tank, train rides, food, water games, face painting, karaoke for kids, inflatable’s, Kari’s heart merchandise and so much more. Come out and spend the day with your kids- it should really be a great day. check out the web site for more details and to download entry forms for a bicycle ride, volleyball tournament, or a Frisbee golf tournament. These events have an entry fee for participation. Best of all, the money raised at the event goes to Kari’s Heart Foundation to help other families with hospitalized children. If you know of someone we can help, give us a call or send us an email at karisheartfoundation.org
thanks, God bless,