How do you say goodbye to someone who has brought so much love and joy into your life? How do you say goodbye to someone who has become as much a part of your family as a natural born child? How do you say goodbye to the girl who made your son’s life complete?
My beautiful, precious and courageous daughter-in-law passed away today. She has fought valiantly for the last 25 years against Cystic Fibrosis, determining in her heart that it would never define her life. She has travelled the world, she loved to dance and she lived life with passion. And her last words to the world were “Love all people, Respect Others and be Grateful for the little things in life. Peace out.”
Kari-Lee and my son Tom met a little over two years ago and married in December last year. They fell in love and although they knew their life together would be not the norm, they made the best of it.
Kari-Lee was quite sick for the ten months of their marriage and in June this year received, what we thought, was going to be a life saving double lung transplant. All the signs were positive after the surgery and she recovered faster than most. Finally we thought that these two young people, who were so in love, would get their happily ever after. Unfortunately it was not to be. About two months after the transplant, at a routine clinic check up, they found a shadow on her new lungs. What followed was eight and a half weeks of alternating good news and bad.
Throughout it all Kari-Lee and Tom held strong to their Christian faith, believing for a miracle. When the doctors gave up hope and told them there was nothing more they could do, Tom and Kari kept on believing. They showed us so much, taught us so much, right up until the end when Kari took the time to thank her husband and family and friends for their support.
Throughout this journey we have been so overwhelmingly blessed by the people who have prayed, offered support and donated money. People that knew Tom and Kari through work, people he played soccer with and those who knew Kari through dance and those in their church and who went to school with them gave so much support and in return, I think, we all learned something.
We learned what love really looks like. We learned what strength and courage looks like. We learnt about joy in the midst of strife and we learnt to treasure every single moment that we have with those that we love.
It puts life into perspective. Seeing someone struggling with life and death makes you realize what is important in life. Spending quality time with your loved ones should never be taken for granted.
So, how do you say goodbye to the person who has meant so much to so many people? The person who touched so many lives? The person who changed your own life? How do you say goodbye?