My friend Karen is one of the kindest people I know, truly. She is just amazing and wonderful and I don't know what I would do without her and the ability to call her 3 or 4 times a day just to hear the voice of another adult. I met Karen when I was working at Bangor High. We were office mates and team teachers who quickly became friends and, eventually, running partners (remember that, Karen??) When our lives turned to parenting, we both realized early on that parenting was going to be our lives and our support of and for each other became vital for our growth as we tried our best to navigate the world of breastfeeding, high-needs babies, diapers, food choices, schooling choices, discipline and everything else that comes with growing families. When Sophie died, Karen never faltered in her support of me or my family--while we both recognize that there were some rocky moments when things did not always come across as intended, the apology was quick and the forgiveness heartfelt. I never, for one second, doubted her intentions, and now it is all so far in the past that I feel silly for even bringing it up.
Karen and I are polar opposites on many political issues. This made for some interesting discussions through the years--and some friends even ask me how I can continue to hang out with her, "She has a BUSH sign on her lawn!" they would say. Yeah, I know...but she is a kind, compassionate, breastfeeding, gentle discipline practicing mama, just like me. I can't explain her wacky political beliefs anymore than I can explain her husband and his shed. But I digress...
Karen and her husband are celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary this summer, and they are doing that by getting married again. I have been asked to be the Matron of Honor and I can't even believe that Karen would bestow this honor on me. I can't believe I have ever given her as much in support as she has given me--but she claims this is so. And because I love her so much, I will wear a dress in public and hope that maybe I can find some shoes to go with it (Tevas okay, Karen??) Anyway, the point was that Karen's "Save The Date" letter was fantastically written. It was a description about a walk in the woods through the beautiful, fall foliage and how she tried to capture this by bringing home one perfectly colored leaf. Though she looked and looked, upon close inspection she found imperfection on each and every leaf she picked up. While the color was there, it was interspersed with "fungal spots, egg masses, caterpillar holes and damage from falling branches." But when she stepped back and looked at the forest as a whole, it was full of astounding richness and beauty. Like her marriage, she said, each day has had its own "fungal spots" but when viewed as a whole, it has brought much beauty into her life--and that is the beauty we will celebrate with her at her re-wedding.
Her description of her marriage is so wonderfully descriptive of the parenting journey. Each day has fungus and there are definitely times when I feel like caterpillars are pooping on my head...but the beauty of the whole is amazing to me. When Erin helps her sister read or when Megan flips pancakes for breakfast or Evan smiles and nuzzles my neck, I know that the beauty is firmly planted inside my kids. It doesn't always come out (this is true for everyone, isn't it??) but my kids are working hard at growing up and they are doing a pretty good job.
Thank you, Karen, for your help and love along the way. The house across the street is still for sale.