My friend Karen Hoyer died a week ago while I was on vacation. We went to graduate school together from 1992 through 1994. We shared an office, taught freshman composition, took classes together, critiqued each other's papers, encouraged each other, and shared a wonderful bond of friendship.
Karen had always been crafty, but I didn't turn crafty until about 8 years after graduate school. After working in universities for a few years, Karen decided she liked quilting better than academia, so her husband Nick finished the unfinished area of their basement and bought her a massive quilting machine. She worked and taught at local stores. And then she got cancer. Four years ago.
Karen and Nick had two daughters, Jordan and Chelsea. Chelsea, the younger of the two, was just learning to walk when I met Karen. Jordan has now graduated from college; Chelsea is in college. And they just lost their mama. Nick just lost his wife.
All I can do is send a card and pray that God's peace and comfort surrounds them and helps them--and all of Karen's extensive family and friends--through this terrible time of loss.
When Karen died, that left me with two friends with cancer. Those two are doing quite well. But just as Karen passed, another friend, named Zandra, was diagnosed. She went to the emergency room for abdominal pain, and the scan that revealed the diverticulitis that was causing her immediate pain also revealed an 8-cm mass on her kidney...a mass the doctor said almost always turns out to be cancer. She has never been in the hospital for anything in her life, and she's a few years older than I. And on Wednesday, she's having surgery to remove the kidney.
Her husband is a cancer survivor.
Cancer sucks. We can pray. We can donate money to cancer treatment and research, we can reach out to those who are suffering with meals and cards and a hand to hold.
But the most important thing we can do is help those who are living with cancer live. Really live. Karen lived four years after her stage 4 diagnosis. She lived to see one daughter graduate from college and the other graduate from high school. She lived to go on a cruise and teach more quilting classes and make more quilts and give more hugs and hold more babies and share more love.
We will all die of something. But living now...well, that's what we need to do. I only hope I--all of us, really--can live now as well as Karen did, can appreciate the gift that living is, can share hope and joy and love and smiles.
And for now, that's all I have to say about that.
stamps: Papertrey Ink (Quilter's Sampler, Botanical Silhouettes)
accessories: markers, dimensionals, 3/4" square punch