Stories From A Life

Been there. Done that. Writing about it.

Sally Swift

Sally Swift
Location
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Birthday
June 14
Title
VP, Repartee
Company
Swift Retorts
Bio
sally: a journey, a venture, an expression of feeling, an outburst, a quip, a wisecrack ... me

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SEPTEMBER 10, 2010 4:21PM

Karen, Tower of Strength, Our Family’s Ground Zero

Rate: 48 Flag

hands up

"I had always hoped my stellar vocals, captivating writing or general intoxicating personality would win me my 15 minutes, but alas, life doesn't always come as we planned."
Karen Fern Anderson
5.20.1962 - 8.27.2010

Those taken by war or terrorism garner public attention, but loss is loss to any family. Grief is ultimately private, yet cuts especially deep, I now know, when overshadowed by public demonstrations of national mourning as on 9/11.

A member of our family was taken by a different enemy: Cancer. That loss is no less tragic, no less special. But we can better understand the enormity of each family’s grief on 9/11/01.

Our Karen, my very first niece, my sister Judy’s daughter, wife, mother, sister, cousin, teacher, healer, friend, after three long years fighting the deadly cancer melanoma with single-minded determination and eight final days of incredible staying power, finally left us. Friday, August 27, 2010.

Only two weeks ago. Such a short anniversary. Those commemorating the anniversary of September 11 have had nine years for the reality of personal loss to sink in -- if it ever will. But most had little time, no time, to say good-bye.

We have something to offer them, in retrospect. Not comfort exactly, but validation of one regret we want them to know should not haunt them. I wish I could tell them it would have helped, but I can’t.

Of the many lessons we learned during Karen’s intrepid journey, here’s the hardest one: No matter how much advance notice you’re given, it’s never enough. It will not make a dent in your grief.

Even if you know it will happen, when it finally comes, especially to one much too young, much too soon, it's a gut punch you can’t avoid. 

You think you’re prepared. You aren’t. You think you’ve said your good-byes. You haven’t. You think, you hope the end of her suffering will be welcome. It isn’t. Not really. Not when your pain continues. Not when your whole reality has shifted. Forever.

“I’ve been expecting the phone to ring, and Karen either laughing, complaining about something, or asking a favor, or telling me something.  And it hasn’t rung.  Not once. It’s going to take me a while to get used to that. But I’m never going to like it.” Karen’s mother Judy

The loss of a home’s central figure, a family’s shining star, a focus of so much energy and love, both in sickness and in healthy times, is catastrophic. Infuriating. Bewildering. It leaves a gaping hole in all our lives.

“I don’t understand why this is happening.” Amy, age 12

Without Karen, there is a huge gap in the fabric of our family. We hadn’t realized just how huge until she was actually, truly gone. Yes, life goes on, there are distractions, activities, school, friends, work, whatever … but the emotions of grief, the anger, the memories, the regrets rise up, will stay for a long time.

Another lesson, an important lesson: Tragic loss doesn’t convey “sainthood.” If you’re honest, it reveals the totality of the person’s life. You remember it all, the bad with the good. If you can acknowledge that, you might start to heal a little sooner.

“She was always around, she was sometimes the bane of my existence, and now Karen is gone.  And I miss her. I miss the funny, happy Karen with her excellent mothering techniques and her total devotion to her children.”  Judy

Karen's battle against the implacable disease Uveal Melanoma was unwavering, uncompromising, valiant, an inspiration to all. Yes, she lost the battle. But not the war.

Throughout increasingly toxic procedures, meds, reactions, setbacks, pain, indignities and fears, yes, Karen sometimes cried, raged, complained. But she never lost her iron will to survive or her love for her family. And she more often relied on her unique sense of humor.

attitude

“Waiter, may I have a side of nausea with that chemo, please?” Karen

During those final difficult but precious days in hospice, she was still making jokes, reaching out to reassure her children, give comfort to the rest of us and ask questions about the journey ahead.

Eating little, strength lessening, increasing amounts of morphine numbing her body, still she fought to maintain Normal. To grab even the smallest pleasures one more time.

"Screw it, somebody go get me a quarter-pounder with cheese, medium fries and a Diet Coke." Karen, 3 days before her death

Eventually Karen gave in, but she never gave up. Even as her body failed her, she fought to keep her spirit strong. And she won. Only then could she accept the inevitable and agree to leave her legacy –those beautiful children-- in our hands.

alex amyAlex , Amy, younger days

Karen's husband and her mother, supported by a devoted community of family and friends will not let her down. She set a standard of excellence we will strive mightily to meet. For her children. For ourselves.

“Her wonderful children haven’t yet realized what the future will bring without Mommy, but as they settle into school and life it will slowly hit them, and I hope I can be there to help get them past it.  My mantra has been that you don’t get over it, but you do get past it.  They’re awfully young to lose a Mom; my heart breaks for them.  But she has instilled in them the best possible values, morals and ethics, which should take them far.” Judy

I remember and treasure the strength, the love, the warmth, the generosity, the humor, the rockin' attitude that drew everyone into Karen's orbit, this extraordinary woman who packed a lifetime of amazing into 48 short years.

Karen and the BossKaren and The Boss 

Were there also shadows and dark corners where disappointment, anger, fear, regret, the ups and downs common to every human life lurked? Hell yes. In fact, much darker shadows than any human being should have to bear.

"Hmmm, what's on my mind? Chemo, mashed potatoes, sweating, soap operas, Alex, my mom, Bob, Amy's beautiful voice, Living Earth, beautiful nails, rain, nausea, Amy's Bat Mitzvah, photographer, full belly, no hair, cashews, nausea, Alex's eyes, a new car, shrinking tumors, a long beautiful life, love. Not much, really." Karen

There were times Karen was down, but she was never out. That vibrant personality never flagged. Her positivity and faith and humor never wavered. She gave us hope. As her memory still does. As it always will.


Cycle of Life

K S balletKaren, me

We joked about this, but it's the essence of family continuity. My sister Judy babysat for me. Then I babysat for her kids, Gary and Karen. Then they did the same for my son. And he did the same for their kids. As we expect they will do someday for his. And so on, and so on.

cousins

Mike, Karen, Kenny, first cousins at play

I remember some of her early years, her mother remembers every moment.

“She was a crabby, crying baby, our friends in our apartment complex referred to her as ‘Lungs.’

She suddenly turned so pretty. She hadn’t begun that way but my Grandmother pointed out how pretty she was. She was about 3 or 4 and just charming.” Judy

gary karenGary and Karen

My best memories are not of Karen's childhood but her college and adult years, when our age difference became insignificant. When we were close, intimate friends, more like sisters.

 karen and sally

I can’t embarrass my grown son by sharing the classic video of Karen and him when he was 9, side by side on hands and knees on his bed, Karen teaching him how to fart to relieve a stomachache. But I can tell you that every time we watched it we laughed again at all of us laughing just as much on screen. (Yes, he achieved success under her guidance).

mike, karen

No farting, just cuddling

Memories filled with joy, fun, and most of all, best of all, howling, side-splitting laughter. In fact, I can't remember a time we talked, hung out or got together as a family (outside a hospital... although often inside one too) where laughter didn't rule at Karen's command.

I’ve written about our annual Thanksgiving feasts filled with so much food and laughter it was hard to tell which really sent us all staggering to easy chairs and sofas, bent over, exhausted.

Last year at Rosh Hashanah, I cooked my ‘world famous’ brisket, brought the whole feast to their house. After we left, she sent me two photos on my cell phone

"These are my kids."
kids

"These are my kids on brisket."kids on brisket

Long after the sharp pain of her loss has dimmed, even now while it's still fresh, my most enduring images of Karen are bathed in humor and sound: her dry, deadpan delivery, her multi-layered laugh, sliding from little girl giggles into a raucous roar, down to breathless guffaws and back up to helpless howls. Infectious beyond words. And her golden singing voice.


Rock Star

rock star

Fast forward through her Mad Men suburban childhood, high school, college (Junior Year abroad in France, she missed my wedding!) to the heady days as lead singer for the John Alexander Band and for the tribute band Living Earth.

tamborine

Karen, public performance

k singing our houseKaren, center, mesmerizing with impromptu concert at our house

That voice. Part Janice, part Carly, part Bette, all Karen. That mane of wild blond curls. That lush body. That face, different from every angle, expressing toughness, tenderness, pixie or sexy, always the hint of laughter, a glimpse of a soul bursting with joy.  


At Karen's memorial, the synagogue was packed to the rafters, standing room only. The rabbi, whose voice broke often even as he tried to guide us in a celebration of her life, told a crucial piece of her story.

Singer, Friend, Wife

k shorts and boots

Behind the scenes with the band was a quiet guy named Bob, a bit of a nerd, he ran the equipment, had his eye on Karen from the start. Those long legs in mini skirt or shorts and cowboy boots. That take-no-prisoners confidence. The little girl grins breaking through the come-hither glances.

He was a goner. She wouldn't, couldn't see him.

model

Almost five years later, back from LA where she'd done a little modeling, a little singing, a little show-biz, a lot of growing, they met up again, became friends. Close, trusting friends.

She saw him clearly then, straight through to the true heart of the kind, decent, smart, honorable rock of a man who became her soul mate, her husband, the love of her life. As she was his.

wedding dance


Mother, Daughter

Karen left her rock star days behind for a new dream, a solid marriage to a loving, hard-working husband, a quiet suburban life, two kids and a dog, teaching and some massage therapy too, still the healer. First and foremost, a Mom. 

mom and baby alex

Karen, baby Alex

"She fought for them. I’m so proud that both kids are in all honors classes.  She taught music at the synagogue Sunday School, and began substitute teaching in the Margate Schools. Her students loved her, quite obvious when she bumped into them outside of school and everyone was so happy to see everyone else." Judy

judy  karen

Judy, Karen, Amy

And she never, ever lost her close, strong bond with her mother. Not perfect, sometimes contentious, but a solid, lasting relationship that, despite ups and downs, never lost its intensity, humor or love.

judy karenJudy, Karen

"I already miss Karen’s hourly/daily calls. I could always tell by her ‘Hello’ voice what frame of mind she was in, and when I heard the ‘down’ voice I just listened. Not just during her illness, it  goes back years. I could go somewhere even I didn’t know I was going, and the minute I got there the phone would ring and it was Karen.  We joked that I could run but I couldn’t hide." Judy

Karen continued singing, in community theaters, first on her own, then with Amy, now 12, who inherited her mother's golden voice. Listening to tapes of them singing, the memory of their voices blending, fills my eyes and my heart.

Amy as BelleAmy as 'Belle'

They were mother and daughter, but more than that, yet another generation filled with love and laughter and a solid bond. Plus, of course, the rules and boundaries and responsibilities a good mother instills.

"Twenty sixth graders at my house? Security!! Party is on, Amy is in charge and I have doubled up on my meds. This will be so much fun!!!" Karen

Amy has Karen’s determination, ambition, her iron will, her sense of humor. She’ll learn about that as she grows, becoming all that her mother was, and more, with the depth and strength and committed work ethic of her father too.

Alex has all that as well. Brains and humor and determination and a fighting spirit. He got it from his parents and he learned it the hardest way possible. Because he too has cancer.


Cancer-Fighting Mother

Alex VHL

Every parent's nightmare became an everyday fact of life for Karen and Bob, for all of us, when Alex was only four. VHL (Von Hippel-Lindau) disease, a very rare cancer which had invaded his brain.

Alex lost the inside of his right ear. And a chunk of his skull, replaced with medical cement. Later, Karen would joke with him when he misbehaved, "What’s your problem, you got cement in your head?"

Humor. Most often how Karen regained her footing and stepped up. She reorganized their lives to create a healthier lifestyle. Taught others how to do it too.

 K kids cooking

“She advocated for any cause she believed in, and threw herself into it all.” Judy

She was a tireless proponent for VHL research and funding to search for a cure. Through more surgeries over the years, the whole family pitched in, joining Karen and Alex's efforts. We will, unfortunately, continue to support his ongoing battle.


Melanoma Fighter

karen black patch

Karen at our house, trying out the eye patch

Uveal Melanoma is not skin cancer, it's more insidious, like VHL, though they are unrelated. Tumors start in the eye, grow and can spread rapidly, without warning.

First doctors tried a radioactive chip in her eye. Her hospital stay was far from pleasant but she managed to be gracious And to make us laugh. When I wrote about her ordeal, she left this comment on my blog:

"Thank you for teaching me about egg crates, keeping the creepy radiation meter guy away, and yes, even ordering the damn injection to make the room stop spinning. Thank you for keeping me stocked in straws. Thanks for taking Alex on the shopping spree and letting him get me organic food. And let’s give thanks together ... for potato chips. Amen.”  

karen bling patch

Forget basic black, it's time for bling!

Two years ago, six months after the radiation treatment failed, the same doctors removed Karen’s right eye to stem the disease. I’d have been a wreck. Karen was too busy being a mom, running her home, even cooking. Less than a week later she sent me an IM:

"Bulletin: peeling an onion is now only HALF as annoying." 

As usual, inner darkness overcome by the light of laughter.

It never stopped. No matter how much private pain and distress, she managed to find a public upside,

"Say it loud, "I'M BALD AND PROUD!" Karen

debbie, karen, robyn

Debbie, Karen, Robyn


The 'Mom Mitzvah'

Kagens Ferns MM

When it became apparent Karen would not be there for Amy's bat mitzvah in October, we arranged a special service in the hospital chapel, just family and a few close friends. The rabbi offered traditional blessings, Amy read her most important prayers, Karen gave Amy a ring now passed down for five generations.

Spirituality, faith, love, laughter, tradition, family. It was all that and so much more. We know that in October, at Amy's formal bat mitzvah, the memory of the 'Mom Miztvah' as Bob called it, and Karen herself will be there with us in our hearts.

I've chronicled her increasing battle with melanoma during the past two years. She fought to live with everything she had, and then some. I didn't know it at the time, but in describing her courage after losing her eye, I had already written her epitaph.

The rabbi read it at her memorial, an honor that will stay with me the rest of my life.


karen  obit

Karen's Epitaph

Fight back. Mobilize. Energize. Laugh. Love. Live. Learn all you can. Gather your physical and emotional resources. Seek and accept support and advice. Lean on your loved ones and stand on your own two feet.

According to Karen's example, that's what you do to survive. More, that's how you live life to the fullest.

Karen is a survivor of the highest order. An inspiration to cancer victims, mothers of cancer victims, other survivors and those who are trying to be. An object lesson to those of us who waste time moaning about petty problems.

Karen is such a warm, courageous, loving person. She virtually glows with goodness and light. Which she can only see from one side now.

I can tell her what I see when I look at her -- I see unbelievable courage.

I only wish I saw half as much myself.


Hero

Karen was a hero, a force of nature. It defined her life. And ours. If you knew her, it had an effect on your life too.

“I will try my best to pick up whatever pieces I can.  I will arrange doctor’s appointments of which, unfortunately, Alex has too many. I will endeavor to take over the enormous amount of day-to-day ‘stuff’ Karen did for her family. But I know I’ll never replace the real Mom, the one with whom they were so close and relied upon so completely.”  Judy

Judy’s right, of course, she can’t replace their mother, no one can. But she has a very special bond of her own with Alex and Amy. This is what I told her, which I believe completely.

“That day in the doctor’s office she couldn't have been clearer, ‘Take care of my children.’ She entrusted them to you, knowing that you will do her proud. You have been a stupendous Grammy and a damn fine mother. She knew that, she trusted you with her most precious ‘legacy,’ her children.”

I hope Judy can hold on to that, remember and take comfort knowing there’s no greater tribute from a daughter than to place her beloved children, and their future, in her own mother’s care.


  karen and kids

"So maybe I'll never get to sing with The Grateful Dead, Bruce Springsteen or Carly Simon. I have other gifts to bring to this world and a legacy unmatched by anyone; my children. So I'll Keep on Truckin, in Anticipation, cause baby I was Born to Run!" Karen Fern Anderson, 5.20.1962 - 8.27.2010

Karen's memory will Keep on Truckin for all of us, especially through her priceless legacy, Alex and Amy. Never was a brighter spirit Born to Run through our hearts and minds than Karen.

She is surely laughing and singing on life's greatest stage now, entertaining multitudes. If you listen carefully, with Anticipation, you can hear the heavenly applause.

Rest in peace, Karen. And, as most of us prefer to say, Rock On!


So far, the only one I could find of, Karen singing with the band:

 


  tk poster

We continue to honor her shining example. You can too at www.teamkaren.net.


Donations in her memory gratefully accepted:

Team Karen, c/o Cape Bank
7806 Ventnor Avenue
Margate City, NJ 08402

 

 

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Comments

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She was my hero. See why. Thank you for helping her throughout her journey, help me send her soaring one final time.
This is a lovely tribute. I am sorry for your loss.
You're right about the advance notice, Sally. I'm so sorry for your loss. This is a fitting and beautiful tribute to Karen, who clearly lived a life worth remembering and impacted many for good. I wish all of you who mourn her and loved her peace.
Sally, I'm sorry for you and for all who loved Karen.Continue to carry her in your heart.
Dorinda, thank you, in the midst of your own pain and heroic struggle, you always found time to reach out to me. It means a lot.

Kathy, I could, and will, say the very same to you. Thank you for your very kind words.

Pilgrim, thank you for your kindness too. She never leaves me.
I read this all and now know Karen. I remember some of your past posts about her battle. The place was filled to give her a last tribute and that says it all. Sorry for your loss. I know you will treat the kids left behind as your own and guard them. I know you will and that will be the best tribute to Karen. I wish I could send you a single ruby red rose to enjoy. You had the honor of knowing her and that is and was a blessing. Peace..
A fitting tribute to a remarkable woman.
Oh, Sally ... what a story you've woven here. What a woman. What an inspiration. I could only wish to have that kind of grace....
Spud, it's a lot to read, thank you for that tribute. I will do all she asked me to do and more. For my sister too.

Cappy, thank you so much.

B Re, we all have grace, you just have to find it in yourself. Maybe Karen can be an inspiration...
Oh Sally, this is a magnificent tribute to Karen, but also a tribute to you and your entire family. You have all rallied and supported each other through the good and bad times. You are an example of strength and compassion. May Karen rest in peace, and may Judy and her beautiful grandchildren find further strength from the love you offer them. You have reminded us through your recounting of this tragic loss to cherish each day.
You chronicle the journey of family, the joys and sorrows of life, death, tragedy, humor, pain, passion, suffering and loss like no other writer. Karen was lucky to have an aunt like you to give her these words and a family like hers to give her this outpouring of love and strength as she battled to the end. May peace and blessings and love surround and embrace you all. xoxo
Beautiful tribute, teaching us, as well...
I appreciated the video as a coda to your beautiful writing. While Karen wasn't 'the star' in this video, the song wouldn't have been anything special without her contribution. And her humor and spunky personality was right there to see. That gave me a sense of the container for the enormous spirit you have described with such loving detail.

I am truly sorry for your family's loss Sally. She was an entire constellation and the universe will miss the light she provided.
Sally this is such a wonderful tribute! I feel like I knew Karen, a remarkable and talented woman. You did her proud. Thank you so much for allowing me to go along on this loving journey.
Returned to stardust, now in the heavens. In memorium, this is a tribute I know she felt before the last part of her journey. Your love lifts her right off the page.
Thank you, Sally, for sharing Karen with us. I am overflowing with feelings, but no words seem to fit. Love to you~
Dear Sally, you offered something here that I could not resist reading. I skipped no parts and was left with a feeling that I knew Karen too. What a life! She lived in every single moment and it is my feeling she lives still, here through your words, in her children, in her family, in her care of life, faith, tradition, love. It is difficult to say things sometimes, to tell the story, but here you have done it. I love this family of yours, the circle of life. You are blessed, she was blessed and together you are all a strong reminder of what love truly is, it is about one another, what we do for each other. My deepest sympathy and I think Karen would want me to say L'Chaim.
I'm so so sorry, for Karen, for you and her family.

You brought her right into our homes to meet her. Thank you.
This is so beautiful and moving. I can feel her love for you all through your words, Sally. I'm sorry for your loss as well as those who knew and loved her.
Sally I read every word and found myself in agreement with so much that you say about life, and death. I laughed, I cried and I feel blessed to have been able to know you and Karen through your blog. The strength, beauty and sense of humor you speak of will stay with me. Beautiful. You and your family have my deepest sympathy for your loss.
Lea, you've been with us almost the entire journey, always caring, always knowing just what to say to bring comfort. I can't thank you enough for doing it again today.

Patricia, the same could be said for you, too. Your praise means so much to me, as do your comforting thoughts and prayers.

Holly, another who's been kinder than I've had any reason to expect, especially with your own towering problems. Still, I knew I'd find a comment or a note, comforting and cheering me on. Thank you for making us friends.

Patrick, Karen would like that I was able to teach something here. But she'd want to know if I also made you laugh.

Susanne, I'm so glad you saw the real Karen in the video! So long ago, the 80's and early 90's, so many live performances, I have much more audio than video. Thank you so much for your own eloquent words.

Fay, thank you from both of us, she always appreciated knowing she made an impact on people she never met.

Gabby, "Returned to stardust, now in the heavens." What a perfect description! Yes, a lot of love there for sure.

Joan, you don't need words, I can by now read your mind.... thank you for being so kind.

Sheila, thank you so much for persevering and letting me know it was worth it. I could have written less but it would have meant too much less to me. Karen would absolutely join us in L'Chaim!
While I was answering, more visitors!

Deb, thank you, I know you've struggled with life-altering illness and that you know much of the journey. I hope yours stays true and strong.

mypsyche, thank you for your kind words. Every one means a lot.

Sheila, I know you can identify with Karen's husband, as can others here who've known intimate loss. I'm so gratified you took this whole journey with me and not at all surprised you saw the 'strength, beauty and sense of humor' ... that describes you too.

Cindy, words of peace, comfort and healing from you go right into our hearts. Thank you.
Sally

Thank you so much for this beautiful peice.
I especialy enjoyed your daughters vidio and
Epitaph.
My step daughter is just beginning her fight with
cancer (JMML).
I will have her and her sisters and Mom read this post
and I am going to print and hang Karens Epitaph in
a prominent place in our home to help Jennifer and
her sisters and Mom to have the courage that Karen
showed so much of.
I am so sorry for your loss, but please know that
through your loss and your post Karen will still be
helping others, like my daughter as well as others
to fight and find courage.
What a beautiful story, so much love you can feel it. I am so sorry for your families loss but I also thank you for sharing your amazing niece and wonderfully strong family.
I am so very sorry. I had been thinking about Karen and was afraid that not hearing any news did indeed mean the worst. My sincere condolences to you and your family.
Such a moving tribute. No one is ever prepared for the emptiness that is left behind when such a vital person dies. Just remember the good times; nobody can take your memories away.
Wow, Sally. What a beautiful and heartfelt tribute. So moving and inspiring. I was watching the "Stand Up to Cancer" special earlier on TV and thinking of all my friends and relatives who've died from cancer or have survived cancer. Overwhelming. I'm so sorry for your loss. Karen was clearly an extraordinary person in an extraordinary family. Hugs and thanks for this eulogy.
I'm so sorry for you loss, but what a lovely tribute. I could tell from the first picture she had a rock and roll soul.
Wow. You have my sympathy for your huge loss, and I know that your family will encircle those lovely children and give them pieces back of their mother, as you did in this wonderful essay. Peace.
A fitting tribute to a warrior and a shining star.

ברוך אתה ה' א‑לוהינו מלך העולם, דין האמת.
How woven into each others lives we all get! A part of us just disappears with those we love. and a part of those that leave stays with us.
My prayers to you and the family.

r==
I can't imagine how you managed to write such a full and strong tribute when the loss is still so fresh. And yet, it is my hope that as you write, it releases some of the loss, and that in the reading, we can help share in the healing, even as we carry the inspiration her life has provided. Sally, my sincerest condolences on this loss to your family. Thank you for sharing Karen with us.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful niece with us. I am sorry.
Words can't express. I'm so sorry for your family's loss. What a wonderful web of love, family and memories she left behind.
Whew! As usual, you nailed it! Whew! Thanks.
My God this is beautiful. She was amazing, and your loss...almost unspeakable, now that I've met her. Sally...my Lord...

I wish I'd known this woman, too...
I'm not sure how you do it. I'm not sure how you assemble and write something like this in the face of that kind of grief. I wish you God's help in your healing process and your family has to be thankful they have you to help with theirs. Does anyone in your family read your blog? Do they get to see this?

By the way, I'm in a band that plays Hey Pocky Way, but I'm in the South (the only Yankee they've let into the band). It's cool they did this this long ago in Jersey. You're right, really good voice, and I get what you were saying about the smile.
I see why.
Bless you both.
So well composed. r.
Thankis for this beautiful tribute. Now I know her and miss her too.
I want to respond to everyone. Please give me a little more time. Your kindness is so very, very helpful, you have no idea.
Sally, my prayers and love. What a moving tribute. It was SO wonderful to see her perform. I hope you're doing alright. Would love to have you come down for a visit, if you need a little getaway. It's healing, this time of the year.
Sally I can't believe I missed this. My condolences to your and your family. With all your posts about Karen, I felt like she was part of my family.
Thinking of Karen and your entire family at this sad anniversary, Sally. Thanks for keeping her memory alive.
I have to go see where I was last year on this day and know (with all that I did know and didn't miss about you and Karen) how I missed this. Gawd, woman. What you wrote, what she was. I'm hoping, with OS the disaster it is these days, a few rates will get this onto the 4-hour so more people will see it. And hear her. As one of the commenters said, stardust. She is. I love you, sally.
Sally, Beautiful tribute, sharing Karen with the world. She has now touched more lives, and made more of a difference through you. I have cried every morning, but not like this. The pain and the love sweep over me from your memorial to Karen. The strength of your family shines...if only we could all bathe in that light of family and faith. You are blessed, as are her children, as was she. Namaste.
Couldn't figure out why I get getting minuses when I tried to to rate , then I looked at the date and saw that I already had.

A year brings changes for all of us. I hope that I can do this with the dignity, humor, and strength that she did.
Sally, this was magnifent and such a tribute to one much too young. I suffer with you, for Karen, who you worked hard to let us know in all her many sides. Tragic, but great post. Wendy