I’m going to start this post with a quick little disclaimer-like-thing in saying I typically don’t care to do the “xx-years ago today…” style posts… however, not all timely remembrance posts are bad… and well, I’ve never claimed to not be a hypocrite (not that that has anything to do with this post)… anyway.. on with it… (it’s going to be slightly rambly…)
Two years ago, my life changed. That’s actually a bit of a conflicting understatement, but it’s true. On 5 October 2006, my stepmom, Karen passed away after a year long battle with breast cancer.
It feels sort of weird looking back on it now — as though I’ve become accustomed to her absence.
I used to cry quite a bit, and it was hard to watch any show where someone lost a loved one. Medical shows were quite terrible — inevitably someone would have cancer and/or there would be some sort of emotional death. I still do cry once every so often. It’s just bound to happen. I lost a parent.
One thing’s for sure, it is easier to talk about now.
Saying that my life changed was a conflicting understatement is a bit confusing. But life, following its true nature is a series of changes and how we adapt to them. Our lives are continually changing, whether we notice it or not. To lose someone, it’s definitely a change. It’s hard to put into words the effect death has on our lives. There are ways that Karen’s death has touched me that I might not discover for years, if ever.
The thing I do know is that we continue on. We might not necessarily move on, but despite how we feel the world does continue and life presses on.
My dad married Cynthia a month ago, and my youngest two half-sisters (ages 5 and 7) are already calling her “Mommy”… (A lot of Karen’s family actually showed up to the wedding even.) All four of my half-sisters have gotten hair cuts (something Karen didn’t see as necessary — she liked their long hair), and they’re all wearing blue jeans quite a bit now. In fact, there are times when I’m not sure what their mother would think of their wardrobe.
I’ve often wondered how my sisters and my dad have coped with this day after day. Hannah, the oldest at 13, was 11 when she lost her mom — Lydia, now 5, was 3 at the time. Gracie won’t remember Grandma Karen, but she knows who “Cindia” is.
So far, things are working well with Cynthia. Outside of Karen, I think if I had to pick someone for my dad and sisters, I couldn’t think of a better match. This is a huge adjustment for her as well. She’s never been married and has never had kids — now she not only gained a husband, but 4 at-home daughters, 2 adult children, a granddaughter, and a host of family which includes Karen’s… She’s also taken on the responsibility of homeschooling all of my sisters as well.
Karen and I didn’t see eye-to-eye theologically. I remember her looking visibility disappointed when she learned that during my time in China, I wasn’t there to evangelize and convert people. Karen was strong in her faith and convictions. And I respected that. But she’d let me know if she didn’t agree with how I was living my life. Even to the point of trying to get me to end a relationship I was in.
Cynthia and I also don’t share some of the same views religiously — granted, neither do I with my father either… However, I find her approach to my brother and I different. Maybe it’s because she didn’t have the nearly 13 years with us during our youth that Karen did… Cynthia sees us as adults and treats us as such.
One of the hardest things has been the “stepmom” issue. My mom is still very much a part of my life. Karen was one of my parents, but she was my stepmom — and it’s been hard to know how to define that relationship because it so different with every person.
One of the great ironies… Karen died during Breast Cancer Awareness month….