Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's Katie's Birthday

March is the month of Katie’s birthday (March 8th), and if she were alive, she’d be turning 15 – a ninth-grader, attending high school with her brother David, who is a senior this year. We had looked forward to this, the only year they would be in the same school at the same time. I had imagined her developing crushes on some of his friends, the way I did with my older brother’s friends. Cancer and her death have prevented this from happening. 

It’s not easy to decide what to do for her birthday:  do we celebrate her life, or does that just bring more pain over the fact that she’s not here? If we celebrate, what is a good way to honor her memory? I try to do that in everyday life. How can I do it differently on her birthday – or do I even need to? What might comfort us? Is there even an answer to that question?

After their son passed away, a family I know used to take gifts to the kids at Ronald McDonald House on his birthday. It was a lovely tradition, and a generous way to share what they would have liked to give to him, with others.

We’ve taken balloons and flowers to Katie’s bench in our town’s waterfront park, and let the balloons go. We’ve taken photos of it. Gifts have been given to the Katie Gerstenberger Endowment for Cancer Research. We’ve talked about a lot of things, but nothing seems to fit, because she’s not here. That makes sense, and I understand the facts. But that understanding doesn’t make it an easier day.

I’m grateful to have had the privilege of being Katie’s mother. I was blessed to conceive and carry her in my body, to deliver her and nurse her. I got to be a teacher, guide, companion, caregiver, coach, cheerleader, assistant, mentor and intimate friend. I got to spend more time with her on this earth than anyone, and for that, I am truly thankful. I try to remind myself that it could have been even less than 12 years.

But it will never feel like enough.

This month, I’m preparing to do one of the biggest things I’ve ever done, because of Katie:  I’m going to Indianapolis to speak at the Hope and Empowerment Event, which is being put on by the Henry Tucker Foundation. This is a conference about pediatric cancer, designed to raise awareness, support for families (and research), and to encourage hope. The keynote speaker will be Patrick Doughtie, the author of “Letters to God” and co-director of the movie of the same name. Patrick is bringing the movie to the Hope and Empowerment Event for a screening. He will be the keynote speaker, and then we will break into smaller sessions; that’s when I will speak. Parents, doctors and hospital staff will also speak. We are going to share what we know in the hopes of empowering others on this journey of childhood cancer and/or grief.

I’m excited to do this, out of love & respect for Katie (and caring for the kids and families who are still facing cancer); it’s a privilege to be invited, and it seems to fit well with celebrating her birthday and her life. If you live in the Midwest and would like to attend, you can find out more by following the link (above) to the Henry Tucker Foundation’s website.

You can read more on my blog: www.karengberger.blogspot.com

Katie’s Comforters Guild’s blog is: www.katiescomfortersguild.blogspot.com

 

15 comments:

  1. Dear Karen -- Thank you so much for sharing this experience. In a week it will be a year since my Dad died, and I've been dreading the coming date.
    We had a party back on his birthday in July (without him), but it was a very sad time for me.
    I think the way you recognize and celebrate Katie every day is the greatest gift and the most fitting one. I think we put too much emphasis on formal birthdays.
    Your speaking at the conference is a wonderful way to keep the spirit of Katie and all she has taught you alive. I can't wait to hear about it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I still get chills when I hear about the Hope and Empower event and your presentation there. I just know that your words and presence are going to affect so many people in wonderful ways. Your gifts just shine from you -- those gifts from Katie, too...

    ReplyDelete
  3. karen,
    i hope it's ok to say this. i've typed and deleted as many times in my head as i have on the screen. but here it is .. the one thought that just keeps going through my head -
    i'm just so sorry that you had to lose your girl.
    your pain is so palpable - of course it is. and no parent should have to live through that kind of pain.
    i wish i had more. i wish i had the strength or the wisdom to say something different, but for now, all i have is 'i'm so very sorry.'

    ReplyDelete
  4. This blog is so nice to me. I will continue to come here again and again. Visit my link as well. Good luck
    obat aborsi
    cara menggugurkan kandungan
    obat telat datang bulan
    obat penggugur kandungan

    ReplyDelete

  5. Reasons To Outsource Your Cleaning Services To A Cleaning Company
    شركة تنظيف منازل بالقصيم
    شركة تنظيف خزانات بالقصيم
    شركة تنظيف بالخرج
    What services to anticipate and what exactly are considered extra from the home cleaning service and ideas to make having a residence cleaner go smoothly. Cleaning is also good for mild depression, because it takes the focus off you and directs your energies elsewhere. Cleaning the toilet sink, toilet, bath, and flooring with a disinfectant cleaner is definitely good first rung on the ladder, but bacteria can achieve a seemingly clean atmosphere. Some times when it comes to house cleaning, it might be great to just have someone else do it. Well, there are several companies out there that would love to do just that for you.
    شركة تنظيف بالقصيم
    شركة تنظيف بالدوامي
    شركة تنظيف خزانات بتبوك
    شركة تنظيف بتبوك
    Walk throughout the house and write down all you can think of, regardless of what size or small. We are the main supplier of house cleaning services by making a constructive effect on the personal satisfaction of the house owners we serve, the general population we utilize, and the franchisees we bolster. You will want to make sure you contact the right division or department to send a email or mailing correspondence that showcases how your cleansing business can provide property preservation services to help maintain real estate property on a long term basis.

    ReplyDelete
  6. شركة تنظيف خزانات بالرس
    شركة تنظيف منازل بالرس
    شركة تنظيف منازل بعنيزة
    شركة تنظيف خزانات بعنيزة
    شركة تنظيف بعنيزة
    Being engaged in a variety of outdoor function and in office tasks generally in most of the big metropolitan areas, this is a normal trend to get people engaging the providers of maid service organizations which supply cleaners and ironers that perform the cleaning process in accordance with your requirements. Sometimes you will find that a particular house cleaning service does not do something the way you anticipated or wanted.
    شركة تنظيف ببريدة
    شركة تنظيف خزانات ببريدة
    شركة تنظيف منازل بالرياض
    شركة تنظيف مجالس بالرياض

    ReplyDelete
  7. You may wonder why is me think I could promote vinegar and drinking water for cleaning. Each person should be paid according to their age as well as the jobs that they are taking on. This will benefit you in two different ways. Basically, you do not want to end up compromising the foundation of your house because you have decided to waive the inspection and simply dig around wherever you feel like it. Now you might think that something like this will probably be bad for the environment because it uses a spray nozzle, but it is certainly not the case.
    شركة تنظيف موكيت بالرياض
    شركة تنظيف مسابح بالرياض
    شركة تنظيف ستائر بالرياض
    شركة تنظيف مكيفات بالرياض
    شركة تنظيف واجهات زجاج وحجر بالرياض
    To build up your supply list, begin by identifying the cleaning jobs at hand and know what tool or supply this requires. Skilled staff can be an important aspect because you do not wish to be left with damaged furnishings or items throughout the house. No one really wants to come home and discover that the house will not look any cleaner than it did when she or he left each morning.

    ReplyDelete