How Do You Say Goodbye?

karilee

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?

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A Love Story

love

The word ‘love’ gets bandied about these days with wanton abandon.  We ‘love’ cheesecake, I ‘love’ that dress, he ‘loves’ to watch sport.  It’s proof enough that the English language cannot truly convey what the word ‘love’ really means.

We hear the word ‘love’ all the time

Love is all around us, love lifts us up were we belong, all we need is love, love is a many splendid thing, I’d do anything for love, it must have been love, I want to know what love is, love will keep us together, I can’t help falling in love with you, can you feel the love tonight

But does the frequency diminish the value?

Sanskrit has 96 words for love; ancient Persian has 80, Greek three, and English only one. This is indicative of the poverty of awareness or emphasis that we give to that tremendously important realm of feeling. Eskimos have 30 words for snow, because it is a life-and-death matter to them to have exact information about the element they live with so intimately. If we had a vocabulary of 30 words for love … we would immediately be richer and more intelligent in this human element so close to our heart. An Eskimo probably would die of clumsiness if he had only one word for snow; we are close to dying of loneliness because we have only one word for love. Of all the Western languages, English may be the most lacking when it comes to feeling.” – Robert Johnson, “The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden

I am not going to extol the virtues of words and list all 80 of the ancient Persian words for love (although I do appreciate language), instead, I want to tell you a love story.

My son is just over a month away from turning 21 years old and towards the end of last year he got married.  He met his now wife through work and they dated for a short time before deciding to get engaged.  My husband and I were thrilled, she is a wonderful girl and the perfect match for our son.

Now you may think that this is a normal courtship, but you don’t know the whole story.  What makes this different is that my son’s wife is sick.  She was born with Cystic Fibrosis.  CF is the most commonly occurring, genetically acquired, life shortening chronic illness affecting young Australians today.  CF affects many of the body’s systems including lungs and digestion.  There is no cure.  To learn more about CF, click here.

My daughter-in-law is a brave and strong person.  She has lived her life to the full, never allowing her illness to hold her back.  Up until about 18 months ago she was managing her CF well and most people would never even know she had it, but not long after she met my son, her health started to decline.

As my son and daughter-in-law courted, she slowly got sicker and they were eventually faced with the prospect of a double lung transplant.  The engagement party we were planning turned into a surprise wedding as they made the decision to get married before she would need the operation.

tomkari

My beautiful, wonderful and sweet daughter-in-law, out of love for my son, gave him many opportunities to leave her and my son chose time and again to stay by her side.  To see these two young people navigate their way through the minefield of love was both inspiring and heartbreaking.

They have now been married for six months and my daughter-in-law has had to spend a lot of that in hospital and she is a high priority on the transplant list…it is just a matter of time now.

As a mother I have stood back and watched as my son has grown into a man.  To see this soft-hearted young man, who has never really had to face adversity growing up, walk this road has made my heart burst with pride.  He not only wants to be a strong and supportive partner, but he also wants to help make a difference for others who suffer with CF.

City2South  CF Queensland

Just this last weekend, we had the privilege of watching him compete in a fun run to raise money for CF Queensland.  He knows that there is not much he can do to physically help his wife, but he can help to raise awareness and much needed funds to find a cure and he is more than willing to do what he can.

This is love.  This is the kind of love that says, “I value you above myself”.  These two young people have shown more love for one another than a lot of marriages ever show. ‘Love’ is more than a word for them, it is their world.  I don’t think the simple word ‘love’ can fully encompass the depth and breadth of what I have seen displayed between them, it really needs ninety-six words.

agape

 

If you would like to donate to help CF Queensland you can do it here