Heaven Welcomed a New Angel

Kara went to Heaven in the early hours of this morning. And I want to cry, scream, kick and throw things. And throw up. But I don’t. At least not the screaming, kicking and throwing things part. But I cry. And cry. And cry some more. Until I can’t breathe and my eyes are swollen and the tissue box is empty.

And then I try to eat my feelings. Try to stuff them down with pot stickers, pad thai and chocolate cake. But it doesn’t help. I know it won’t help. I also know this is merely the beginning. The ache won’t be going away.

I also know the preoccupation my Girl has with every sniffle Stephen and I have, every cough, every discomfort is because she is scared. Because she is the same age as Kara’s little girl. Earlier this week the kids asked me how you find cancer. We had a discussion about different kinds of cancer, different ways to detect it and treatment options. The Girl is now obsessed with me getting a mammogram. And I don’t blame her. I promised her I’d get one after I recovered from my back procedure.

I’m at a loss. I mean, Kara was vibrant and healthy 6 weeks ago. Her eyes sparkled. She doubled over in laughter. At least, she seemed to be, anyway. Fast-forward to today and her husband is a widower at 39. How can anyone wrap their brain around that?

Which brings a laser focus on this question: What is important in your life? Really, truly important? Like right now.

The answer, for me, has nothing to do with furniture or clothes or books or gadgets. Instead I feel a sense of urgency and commitment and drive I didn’t necessarily feel before. Like, she doesn’t have the chance any more to finish her declutter projects or other things on her to-do list, so who am I to complain or procrastinate? I pretend that she’s nudging me, telling me “You rock!” the way she did. Or that she will still find these self-help books that were by some far out author and tell me all the good things she learned and share them with me.

I don’t know if any of this has made any sense, because quite honestly I can hardly read through my tears – the keyboard is blurry, the screen is a jumbled mess. But writing, for me, is cathartic. I suppose it’s how I process grief.

Let me end with this: Go hug your loved ones tonight. Pick up the phone and call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Make time to send an encouraging note, text or email. Start telling people you care about that you love them. It will make their day and yours, too. Do it while you can. And then savor it. Even if just for a second. Then commit it to memory where you can hang onto it forever.

30 Responses to Heaven Welcomed a New Angel

  1. As I read your post, I couldn´t stop the tears running down my cheeks. I lost my dad to colon/liver cancer on October 30. Today would have been his 70th birthday. My dad´s cancer was also detected when it was too late and just thinking about how full of life he was and how he had many plans still, it´s hard to deal with. Even though it has been 2 months 11 days since he started this new journey, I still don´t understand why or how it happened!

    I used to stop at my parents home every afternoon after work just to have a cup of coffee, chat for a while and spend time with them, this has given me lots of great memories to hang onto, but at the same time, I keep wondering, “now what?”

    I´m sorry your and her family have to go through this, trying to make sense of what happened, specially the kids. I too, like your Girl, worry more than I should about my loved ones health, the pain and sadness is immense that I´m really afraid to lose them.

    I do not question the Lord´s decisions and every time I´m feeling down (which is really often still), I keep thinking about what my mom says to comfort herself and us “I guess the Lord needed a good person to help him watch over this crazy world”.

    I pray the Lord shall hold your hearts in his hands and give you comfort.

  2. I almost lost my husband 25 years ago and now we celebrate our 35th year in 10 days. I am grateful for every day I have with him and the family we have made. The sons, grandson and soon to be here honorary grandson.
    Tell your daughter one of your online followers will be going soon to have a mammogram after reading this post.

  3. I’m so sorry to hear about Kara. I’ll keep her husband and kids in my prayers even though I don’t know them! May God give you all the peace of Jesus in such a difficult time.

  4. Some things never make sense, and it’s this strange unknowingness that I think makes so uneasy. Death will come for us all, but when it’s like this so sudden and beyond comprehension it’s very tough. She was so young, with young children and a husband. We stop and compare our lives and I think that’s normal. Let us all celebrate the life she had and the ones we still get to live.

  5. Praying for you and for Kara’s family and friends. Thanks for taking the time to write about this and for the encouragement to make the best use of our time here on earth.

  6. Kandace, I’m very saddened to learn of your friend’s death, but grateful that she had such a close friend in her life. Thoughts are with you, your family and her family as you do your grief work. As Charlie Walton says in his book, “there are no words to express the sorrow”. Two of my dear friends died in their 30’s from cancer, leaving young families reeling from their losses.
    Get that appointment for your mammogram & keep it!! having two sisters with breast cancer has made me super-aware of the importance of testing and trying to capture this elusive disease early.
    I encourage you to not ‘eat your feelings’ but speak them, write them, say them, share them. You are grieving your own unique relationship with Kara – be gentle with yourself. Hug others but remember to hug yourself!

  7. Life can be so random and hard. I’m so sorry about the loss of your friend. Let yourself grieve. Here is a quote I found that I sent to a friend who lost her 24 year old son right before Thanksgiving, and I hope it comforts you, too:

    ‘Grief never ends…But it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith…It is the price of love.’ — author unknown.


  8. I know that sorry does not help nor does it fix the feeling of loss. I understand how you feel except I lost my best friend at the ripe old age of 9 to a brain tumor. I still miss her to this day and wonder if we would still be friends, and if our kids would play together. It sucks and I promise it will get better with time and I will go hug and squeeze on my little girl and maybe even call her Georgina lol sorry been watching too many Looney Tunes. Maybe what you need is a good laugh it might help.

  9. You are right about the sense of urgency, we really don’t have all the time in the world to do stuff and I thank you for reminding me by sharing your story. So very sad for your friend, it doesn’t seem fair. Sending thoughts of support.

  10. Thank you for this post Kandice. I am so very sorry for the loss of your friend. My thoughts are with you and your family, your friends’ family and everyone whose live she touched. x

  11. My friend was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2007. She fought for a year and a half before leaving behind her two young sons. Watching her die was devestating, but being with her until the end was beautiful. I wish I could tell you that the grieving process is quick, but I cannot. Please don’t eat your emotions. I did. It didn’t help and now I have my own health problems to overcome. The only thing I can offer is that when the grief comes, no matter where you are, acknowledge it, cry if you need to, then let it go. In time, it will come less often. This experience will change you. It will make you cling tighter to the people you love and let go of the people and things that have no value to you. Just roll with it. Blessings to you.

  12. heart wishes, prayers and peace to you. I so appreciate your honesty about your feeliings. My partner had 2 melanomas removed last year and we had a tiny taste of the fear. thank God, it was all clear for now. But gee, cancer is more than just a disease… it’s a social pain. Take care of yourself and your family. Rest.

  13. Life can be so hard, so unfair. As someone who’s spouse fought cancer the past two years, my heart goes out to this new widower.

  14. Pingback: Decluttering Your Mind of Health Fears | The Simple Year

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