Who’s YOUR 12th MAN?

 

I’m not a football fan.  A  Midwest transplant to the  Seattle area, I gradually acclimated to the rains, but not the Seahawks. They never sparked my interest.

Until lately.

It wasn’t the Super Bowl Win! that changed my mind.

It was the  #12.

I saw it everywhere and assumed it was a favorite player’s number. Ya’ know, some guy who made millions of dollars for running past the line at the end of the field while still clutching the football in his hands? 

I never heard a name associated with the #12,

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I  just saw the #12 flags.

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Empty buildings and

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business buildings,

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boldly fly the flag.

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You see the flag at downtown Seattle intersections

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and upscale restaurants.

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People walk the talk.

I finally had to ask someone, “What IS #12?”

I think I was the last person in Seattle in on the secret.

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The #12 symbolizes undying loyalty, but not the fans’ loyalty.

EVERY FAN is the 12th MAN.

The   #12 personifies the Seattle Seahawks’  loyalty to their fans. They know they put 11 men on the field, but they never play alone. 

It’s the first time I’ve noticed a professional team publically testify it isn’t all about them. After all, if the fans didn’t buy the tickets and sports paraphernalia, they wouldn’t have a paycheck.

The Seahawk’s loyalty to their fans results in crazy loyalty to the team.

I mean loud and crazy loyalty. Louder than a Boeing 747 and Guinness Book of World Records kinda’ crazy. Seriously, I thought my six kids were loud, but the Seahawks fans are the loudest in history, and have a record to prove it.  Let’s just say that at a record of 137.6 decibels, they’re only 12.4 decibels away from shattering ear drums.  Ears can be damaged at 90 decibels.

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(click on this box to bring you to the Seahawk’s Website)

The inspiration of the 12th MAN made me a quiet Seahawks fan.  I probably won’t watch all the games, I probably won’t buy a jersey,  but they sparked admiration in my heart.

The Seahawks understand more than football, they understand life.  We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone; personal talents and opportunities aren’t the only contributors to any success.

We all need people in our lives that give unconditional love and devotion.  We need people to appreciate our gifts, yet correct our mistakes without breaking our spirits.  We need someone to wear our colors, to proudly associate with our name, and to speak highly of us through the highs and the lows.  After all, the true fans are the ones that are devoted even when the team loses.

In honor of the SEAHAWKS the SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS and the 12th MAN, I asked Seattle area authors, who also happen to be avid loud and crazy Seahawks fans, Who is your 12th MAN?”

(To read more about each author, click on their name.)

Lynnette Bonner,  “The readers who post reviews, and come back for more of my stories each time I release one. They encourage me so much. My critique group has been wonderful and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them, but I look at them more as coaches and fellow players.”

Lesley Ann McDaniel, “My critique group, and the other members of Northwest Christian Writers Association who understand and encourage me.”

Diana Savage, “For 30 years my critique group has provided "12th woman" support for me and for my writing. During that time the various members who’ve come and gone have prayed me through crises while teaching me the finer points of clear, concise, and excruciatingly correct writing that touches readers’ emotions and honors God. If I ever win a Super Bowl for writers, my critique group will be the driving force behind my touchscreen success.”

Gigi Murfitt,  “My 12th man is my fellow NCWA members, my critique groups I have been part of, and my friends and family who pray with me and encourage me to write. My friend Cheryl is my biggest cheerleader. She really helped me edit both books. When I think of 12, I think of the disciples and how they sacrificed, supported and encouraged Jesus along the way. What a model for our twelfth man.”

Marilyn Gray, “12th man and their love and support has been so inspirational! The stories of all the Seahawk players and how they have overcome so many obstacles touched my heart! Why not me? Why not now? I want to live like that 24 hours, 7 days a week!”

Kathleen Freeman, “So many on my team! Without the efforts of many, my writing would be mediocre at best.”"

Judy Bodmer, “My 12th man is first, husband, who has encouraged me from the first to follow my dream, then my writing teacher Bette Hagman who took me to writing conferences, critiqued my first attempts, and said I had a gift, and last, my writing group. I wouldn’t quit a long time ago if it weren’t for people like Peggy King Anderson, Janet Lee Carey, Dawn Knight, Katherine Grace Bond, Roberta Kehle, Thorn Ford, just to name a few.”

Dennis Brooke, “My wife, Laurie, is my first 12th. Fellow writers James Rubart, Mick Silva, Kathleen Freeman, Loree Cameron, and Austin Boyd have also been big parts of my game. Not to mention many other NCWA members.”

My 12th MAN?  My husband, Scott, is my first fan, whether he supports me as a mother or a writer, he convinces me this world is a better place because I am in it.  Sometimes, I actually believe him.

My kids, who have filled my heart with their presence and their love notes through the years, “You are the best mommy in the whole world.”

As a blogger who’s been attached to her keyboard for over five years, my readers are also a huge part of that team.  I am so grateful for anyone who takes time out of their day to read what’s on my heart. 

In your life, who is your 12th MAN?

 

He Never Met a Metaphor He Didn’t Like

Are you a word-nerd who loves saying, reading, and studying words? Did you read a dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedia just for fun?  Yea, we are kindred spirits, aren’t we? 

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Today’s COOL TOOL comes from a word-loving North Dakota boy, yea, that’s where I was born, too, thanks for asking. We also attended the same college,  University of North Dakota, just not at the same time.image

Go Sioux!  Anyhoo, back to the tool.

Dr. Mardy was described on his website by Chiastic Quotes winner Bill Porter.

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Other people grew up collecting spoons, bells, model cars, and stamps, Dr. Mardy grew up collecting words.

He has two specialties – relationships and words. Early in his career as a  therapist and marriage counselor, his words helped heal relationships.  When his interests shifted into using his words to improve business relationships, he became  a pioneer in “business therapy.” His passion for words and relationships led to the creation of new words, because this field is now called Executive Coaching and Team-Building.

He’s not only a genius with words, he shares his genius. I can’t actually give away a doctor on my blog, but I can give you his two free COOL TOOLS.

Yep, two.  Two-for-the-price-of-one, which is still FREE.

You’re going to love this brand-new baby, hot off the press January 1st by Dr. Mardy,  a Dictionary of Metaphorical Quotations. 

Can you believe he compiled such a work of heart?

I.

Stand.

Amazed.

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On his website, Dr. Mardy says, “Metaphorical thinking is at the heart of the human experience…when great writers or thinkers have attempted to describe or explain something in a compelling or unforgettable way, their chief tool has been metaphorical phrasing. It is the key to elevating human language from the prosaic to the poetic.”

Index of Topics is here.

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Would most of you women type in “love” first? This is what you’d get.

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For any male readers, I typed “war” in the search bar.

Were you enticed by the topics on writing?  You’ll have to click over there to read them yourself.

Dr. Mardy  explains three “superstars” of figurative language represented in his lists:

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As if avid readers and writers don’t already say “didja’ know?” enough, this COOL TOOL  will load you with an arsenal of wisdom to launch at your next office party, dinner date, or to that captive audience in the elevator.

This is such a big deal to the cyber-world and the literary world, Dr. Mardy is already getting some loud shout-outs.

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Click on the box to read the article written by Richard Nordquist, Ph.D. in English, professor emeritus of rhetoric and English at Armstrong Atlantic State University and the Grammar & Composition Guide for About.com.    About.com is the online source of all wisdom you should use instead of Wikipedia, but since my kids don’t read my blog, I’ll have to remind them in person.

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Click on the box for the article that shows The Huffington Post is also impressed.  Michael Sigman says, “your search for the perfect metaphor may be (almost) over.”

So, two really smart guys and one not-so-smart blogger enjoy this tool already.

Remember I promised you a 2fer?  Two-fer-the-price-of-one? (That’s MinneSOtan, ya’ know.)

Here’s the COOL TOOL I’ve used for a few years, his free weekly email newsletter.

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Check out his archives here, in case you can’t take my word for it. Reading his newsletter is like wrapping up in a cozy, literary fuzzy and drinking a warm cup of inspiration.

So, there ya’ go, two free COOL TOOLS so you can hang out with the brilliant guy,  Dr. Mardy, who loves sharing his collection of words.

NeverismsIfferismsI Never Metaphor I Didn't LikeViva la ReparteeOxymoronicaNever Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You

(Click on each book to read more.)

Click to Tweet:

Dr. Mardy never met a metaphor he didn’t like.  Meet them all in his dictionary.Tweet

I Should Have Passed a Note

Writers see a blank piece of paper or computer screen as an emptiness waiting to be filled.  It’s not alive until our words cover the area in a literary dance. The blankness beckons something deep within that needs to be released.

Artists must feel the same way about when beholding a blank canvas, seeing an exciting possibility for their creative  explosion of paint,  inspiration, and talent.

Children prefer  natural expressions, with less structure and rules.  A blanket of fresh fallen snow is often their favorite medium awaiting creation.

They shuffle, build, and tunnel, forming caves, towers, snowmen, paths, and messages.  Snow can become anything and take them anywhere in their imagination.

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Playing in the snow is no longer a playtime activity for kids, it’s now a recognized art form.

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The snow artist, Simon Beck, sees a field of newly fallen snow as an emptiness to be filled.

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He shuffles to create stunning images, nearly Geometrically perfect.

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Each design takes about 10 hours to make, using snowshoes, a handheld orienteering compass, and pace counting. 

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Then, he posts the images and allows anybody to use them for free. 

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I was  fascinated by his talent and his generosity with his pictures. But  when I saw to this picture, it reminded me of a time when my shuffling in the snow produced a very different result.

I was a 7th grader at the Helena Junior High, a time of angst and crushes. Those same feelings had accompanied most of us through elementary school, too, but  in junior high there were dances and dates, and we keenly felt the expectation that it was time to act on those crushes.  We advanced from kicking or chasing the boys we liked on the playground, to more mature behaviors, like passing notes in the hallway.

By late fall, I had a crush on a kid named Kevin.  Because we both had long, blonde hair, hey, it was the 70’s,  I thought we needed to be a couple.  My last  name ended with a B and his with a C and since our teachers were obsessed with alphabetical order seating charts, several times a day he was very near. 

But, he was very, very shy, and I couldn’t eke out a smile or a blink from him, despite soulful stares down the aisle of Mr. Beveridge’s classroom.

One morning I was trouncing across town to get to school, ya’ know back in those days when you walked everywhere regardless of traffic or weather, and  my heart was too obsessed with my crush to notice the white snow that had covered the  world overnight.

Until I got to the little hill above the junior high football field. There was a beautiful, white rectangle of sparkling snow awaiting my artistry. The vast blankness needed to come alive with a literary dance.

Inspired, I eagerly plotted my course and made my way to the canvas, where I began shuffling my feet to form block letters.

I thought I would leave an innocent message of love in the football field. Since it was at ground level, I didn’t think anybody would be able to read it.  Only me.  People walked by and asked what I was doing, but  I refused to answer. I wanted to keep my crush a secret.

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle…… “I L-O-V-E”

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle….”K-E-V-I-N”

Artwork completed, I  headed to my locker across from my first floor homeroom class.  I was surprised to hear kids teasing me about Kevin as soon as I entered the building.

Duh. Duh. DUH!  Kevin’s homeroom was on the second floor.  While shuffling in my black snowmobile boots with the fur-lined hood of my parka pulled up around my face,  I hadn’t noticed classmates gathered in the second-story windows, laughing and pointing.

My secret message wasn’t so secret.

The public declaration so humiliated him, he was still red during our English class  a few hours later.  It took a few days for the snow to melt my embarrassment  and the junior high chatter to focus on someone else. He never did  talk to me.

One good thing about those dumb junior high moments in my day that today’s kids don’t experience – nobody took a picture.  Nobody revealed my angst on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.  I wasn’t publically humiliated for more than a few days, then it died down.

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After that, I gave up snow artistry and let the blankness of notebook paper beckon any messages that begged to be released.

 

 

CLICK TO TWEET: If you would like to share my story of junior high angst with this ready-made Tweet, feel free.

 

My literary dance left my heart in the snow.Tweet

 

When Words Become a Work of Art

Writers love words.  We love reading words, writing words, and saying them out loud.  They are the food for our soul.

Words are writers’ swords,  band-aids, and  lullabies.

Words are our best friends, and some days, maybe our only friends, especially if you’re an introverted writer.

What if you had the power to turn your words into works of art?

With today’s COOL TOOL, I will grant you that power. Remember my quest to provide you free and easy-to-use tools to keep your blog from being boring?

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Drum-roll please…this is exciting….introducing…one more way to embellish a writer’s love of words.

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Wordle is an easy-to-use free online tool for making those cool graphics you see on other people’s blogs, in their dining rooms, or on their Pinterest boards. On the Wordle home page, click image and it brings you to this environment.

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See how easy it is? Type in your list of words, then click GO.  It creates the word cloud for you.

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These are all the options in the FONT dialogue box, but you probably could have figured that out on your own.  I want to encourage you to start clicking on all the  buttons when you enter a new environment. You have to Click to Conquer.  (I wrote this linked blog to encourage people to overcome fear and click!)

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The layout tab gives you these choices. 

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There’s an option to create your own custom palette, choosing your background color and four foreground colors.  (choose edit custom palette)

If you aren’t happy with the design, click the imagebutton on the bottom of the creating space until you’re satisfied with colors and shapes.

Another option was to enter the URL of a web page and they will automatically generate the word list for you.

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I typed in my blog address and this was created for me.

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It was eery how they picked out the important things in my life.  I recently blogged a four-part series about losing a friend, Kari,  to cancer at 36.  I had thyroid cancer for ten years, I have six kids I adore, I homeschool, and have had a few years with several funerals.  Can you see the themes?

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A revised version of the same Wordle. If you don’t want to eliminate a word, right click on it.  I removed Kari, the contractions that weren’t spelled right, and a few random words.  This is what I came up with.  But, no, my husband isn’t the cause of my grief as it appears in the upper left hand corner.

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Another variation of the same word cloud generated with the randomize button. Getting antsy to try it yourself?

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Two Wordles to describe my passion.

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One just for bloggers.

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A Wordle about my family.  Is that hyphen in dinner table bothering you?  Yea, me, too.

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John 3:16 in a slightly scrambled version. I chose background and word colors with edit color palette and the Mail Ray Stuff font.

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For this creation, I used the url for author Lesley Ann McDaniel’s website and tried to match her website colors. Lesley’s third book in the Montana Hearts series with Heartsong Presents, Rocky Mountain Romance, is ready for pre-order.  It was fun to see the names of her characters, the settings, and the descriptions pop up. This could be a fun author promotional tool, especially if you were more deliberate with the word list.

TIPS for using WORDLE:

  • Words typed twice are largest.  (ex. FAMILY)
  • Use hyphens or omit space in phrases. (blue-eyes) (NorthDakota)
  • Right click on a word to remove it from the word cloud.
  • Their SAVE button saves to a public gallery. To save for personal use, cut out with  Snipping Tool  and save in your picture file.

 

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I gave you the power to turn  words into works of art; use this art to turn words into works of power.

How will you  Wordle your life?

Making your home sing Mondays          WHWButton#2

My Daughter “Swears” Like Her Father

Once upon a time, my husband was fresh out of college and taught at a private Christian school.  Although we’d been married over a year and had our first child,  we weren’t much older than the 19 year old seniors, so tried hard to maintain a sense of maturity and dignity.  We had high ambitions for impacting the academic and spiritual lives of our students.

One fine day, my husband was called into the principal’s office.  Surprised, he sat down and watch the principal’s face contort and turn red as he delivered a message.

“I had a phone call from a parent regarding your behavior,” he began.

“Really?”  My husband couldn’t begin to imagine what crime he’d committed.

“Apparently, you swore in the classroom,” explained the principal with twitching lips.

“I Swore? But, I don’t swear,” explained my husband.  It wasn’t a standard adopted for the classroom, it was a personal standard he lived by. He wouldn’t have sworn even if he had smashed his thumb with the proverbial hammer.

“Well,” said the principal, “you used a word that’s highly offensive to a family and they called me to complain.  They insisted I speak to you about your classroom behavior.”

Worried he would be given his walking papers, my husband asked, “What did I say?”

“You used the F word,” the principal spoke and refused to let my husband defend himself.

He continued,  “You used the word….fff…fff…FART!”  With that he gave up trying to hold back his emotions and laughed so hard his office chair squeaked on its wheels.

With relieved laughter, my husband promised to never use the F word in the classroom again.

I think we forgot to teach this valuable lesson to our children.  I found this old worksheet from one of my daughters, who prefers to remain anonymous.

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Yep, a chip off the ol’ block.

Kari’s Smile Lives On

This is the final post in tribute to my high school classmate and friend, Kari, who died of brain cancer in 2000.  It isn’t her complete life story, she was impacted by many friends and relatives she cherished. It’s a small view into her world through my experiences, which at times are fuzzy with time and grief.


To catch up first read:

And I Almost Killed Her Once
(a glance back to our high school life)

The Lord’s Plan Unfolds
(how our paths intersected years later
when she moved to my parents’ hometown)

The Beginning of the End
(Kari’s final year of treatment and life)

The Dreaded and Inevitable End
(goodbye to Kari was hello to grief)

 

Losing a friend at the young age of 36 was one of the hardest things I’ve lived through. For at least six months, I cried every day.  I’d never lost anybody close to me and I had no idea grief could become a part of your personality. I viewed life through grief-colored glasses.

During this time of emotional fog, a friend visited.  She sat on my couch with a cup of coffee, tucked her feet under her, and chatted to catch up.  I loved this friend, but she hadn’t read or answered my emails about Kari and was out of touch with my life.  I didn’t want to relive the pain to catch her up. Her words bounced around the room and for the first time in our relationship, I felt disconnected from her. My grief was a chasm between us.

After about 30 minutes, I excused myself, went into the back yard and called a close friend, Kirsti.  I sobbed about how hard it was to talk to people who didn’t know the story and didn’t understand how my life had stopped.

“I just can’t get over Kari,” I cried.

“Mindy, you don’t have to,”  she said.  She gave me permission to grieve and removed the burden that something was wrong with me. I also came away from that conversation understanding that if my visitor didn’t know or understand my grief, and that was OK, too. She was still a good friend.  I walked back into the living room and finished our visit.  The  coping skills I learned through that conversation with Kirsti have carried  me for 14 years, and I have shared her wisdom to others frozen with grief.

I actually remember the first day I didn’t cry for Kari.  It was at least six months after the funeral.  I was cleaning  the house and thoughts of her came, but not the tears. I cherished a few good memories, then continued cleaning.  Eventually, I went an entire week without crying, then a month.  I never stopped grieving,  I learned to live with my grief.

The year after Kari’s funeral, I tried to stay in touch with her kids through phone calls, email, and letters.  Then, they moved.  I had a baby. Email addresses changed. Two of her kids  graduated and moved out on their own.  I moved. Her family moved again.  My family of eight moved to Washington. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.  Then I moved one final time. My cancer came back.  

When I joined Facebook and starting “finding” people, I was thrilled to touch base with Kari’s daughter, Holly.  I was even more thrilled to learn she was very happily married with adorable kids and lived in Washington – one hour away.

The first time we met up, our relationship took up where Kari’s and mine left off.  It was a natural friendship we both felt.  We caught up on the missing years.  Her love story was so much like her parents’, it astounded me.  Love at first sight and married within a few months. She had her mother’s exuberant personality and the ability to light up a room with her smile. Our relationship filled a gap we’d both felt for years.

We’ve shared tears and  laughs. She told stories I hadn’t heard or remembered and I shared stories of high school. Kari was as honest with her kids as she was with me, and often shared her mistakes and regrets.  She never tried to make herself look perfect in their eyes, she was real.

My conversations with Holly remind me of the afternoons Kari and I spent together, baring heart and soul.  One day, Holly and I  were reliving the final days of Kari’s life.

Holly sat in the antique rocking chair that has soothed generations in my family, and started crying.  She finally choked out she’d always worried and wondered about her mom going to Heaven, and if she was ready.  

It was time to tell her the story.

I  confessed I almost killed her Mom driving drunk in high school, then explained how I came to know Christ as my Savior in college and experienced a radical life change.  I relived  meeting Kari in the thrift store in Helena and our subsequent afternoon visits. But, when I repeated the verses Kari and I  discussed about salvation and Heaven, I saw visible relief in Holly.  The same marvel that Kari and I often shared, that the Lord spared me from causing  Kari’s death to be there when she was facing death, wrapped around Holly’s heart. More of God’s purposes had been revealed.

 

BB and Hatfields 358At the park that afternoon, a tears came when I was pushing this little tiger in the swing.  Kari’s grandson was laughing and giggling and probably wondering why the crazy ol’ lady was crying. Tears came because Kari never pushed him in a swing, then tears came because I could. I chose to rejoice for what I gained, not grieve for what I lost.

BB and Hatfields 344This little Princess looks like her mommy and her Gramma.

BB and Hatfields 364This little guy snuggles all worries out of your life.

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Holly and I cherishing a final moment together before she and her family moved out of state. Her friendship has been a comfort and a joy. 

This woman is LOVED!Kari would be so proud children and her grandkids.

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Goodbye, but not forever.

Kari’s smile lives on.

The Dreaded and Inevitable End

 

This is the fourth part of a tribute to my high school classmate and friend, Kari, who died of brain cancer in 2000.  It isn’t her complete life story, she was impacted by many friends and relatives she cherished. It’s a small view into her world through my experiences, which at times are fuzzy with time and grief.
To catch up first read:

And I Almost Killed Her Once
(a glance back to our high school life)

and

The Lord’s Plan Unfolds
(how our paths intersected years later
when she moved to my parents’ hometown)

The Beginning of the End
(Kari’s final year of treatment and life)

Still hoping for a miracle cure for brain cancer, Kari and Tony traveled to Seattle, Washington,  to try their final option available, the Gamma Knife. 

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They enjoyed  picking sand dollars at the Pacific Ocean and cruising in a boat through the Puget Sound. When Kari sent this picture through email,  I printed it on plain paper and tacked it up on my sewing cupboard door, where it’s been ever since. I love that smile.

October 6, 2000, she sent out this email to friends and family members.

Kari's letter

She began going downhill. During a phone call she was telling an animated story about one of her kids in a minor fender bender.  She just stopped talking. At first I thought she’d pulled the phone away from her ear and was talking to someone else in the room, ya’ know how kids always interrupt, but there was no other conversation or sound.

I called her name. Over and over, louder each time, until I was yelling. She finally put the phone to her ear again, and I could hear rustling sounds,  but her mind was blank. When she did speak, she was fuzzy and confused. She couldn’t finish her story and couldn’t answer my questions.  I tried several times, then kindly told her I had to go and told her to hang up the phone. I repeated my instructions until I heard a click on the other end.

Conversations and emails stopped after that. In November her husband called to say hospice was there and invited me out for a final visit. I drove 828 miles with five kids and deep sorrow.

The family was gracious enough to allow me into their personal space by visiting daily in the afternoons.

The hospital bed was in the living room, and Kari was there with a hospice nurse. The kids went to school, came in jumped on the bed for a hug, talked about school, ran off to basketball practice, school activities, and outings with friends. She would ask “How was school?”  or “How are you doing?”  Mostly, she just held tightly to the hand of who was nearest the bed, and said, “I love you.”

In my ignorance, I asked Kari’s husband why they weren’t all spending more time with her, why they were still going to activities when she could die any moment. He was so gracious to answer my question without offense. “Kari and I decided from the beginning that cancer wouldn’t rule our lives. We wanted the kids to live as normally as possible for as long as possible.” Routine was part of their coping. It was a great decision they’d made together ahead of time and made so much sense.  Kari didn’t want her kids to sit around and watch her die, she wanted them to live.

A fighter, Kari hung on for two weeks after I’d arrived. I  read to her from the Bible, often Romans 5,  or would sing a hymn.  I’d heard that even though people lose their ability to speak, they can still hear and understand.  I chatted randomly and  my voice filled up the empty spaces.

In the very end, we were just silent.  She couldn’t speak and I was speechless.  I would just climb into the bed next to her and we’d lay there.  She’d turn to look at me, staring into my heart, and she’d smile.

When we knew death was hours away, I panicked. I didn’t want to stay and actually see her die, but I didn’t want to leave. I knew I would be driving back for the funeral with a classmate, so made the agonizing decision to leave.

I had driven as far as Valley City, North Dakota, my birthplace, when I received a phone call from Tony. Kari had died.

  Kari's Funeral Brochure

A few days later I drove back to Montana with Janet, another high school classmate. 

Life and death are always circular. 

Kari's Address

The address she gave me when our paths first crossed?  It’s still her address.

 

Kari's grave

She’s buried right across the street in a large cemetery.

I had always thought that our meeting, that divine appointment in the thrift store,  was for Kari. The Lord wanted to bring me back into her life for her death. But, I’ve been a slow student. In her death, Kari taught me how to live. She taught me to forgive and to smile through my pain. She taught me how to fight my own ten year battle with thyroid cancer.

And that smile I love so much? 

It lives on.

To be continued…