What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
T.S. Eliot (Little Gidding)
Tears are beginning the trek down toward the keyboard before the first words appear. (I told you I usually cry at endings, didn’t I?)
When I began this, Katherine could not tell her own story.
Now she can.
It is time.
Both of us feel it.
Those who were with us in the beginning know that I really didn’t understand what a “blog” was. Words simply started spilling out onto an unfamiliar keyboard as I tried to communicate to friends what was going on, and, in the process, grope toward understanding for myself. Sharing the story made the unthinkable more concrete and bearable. The responses I got were life-preservers thrown to someone drowning in a sea of horror, despair and denial. I thank you for them from the bottom of my heart.
I’m not going to use the analogy of breaking up, but I have a little bit of the same yucky feeling in my stomach right now. This experience has brought me friends. I, who would never do the pen-pal thing as a child, or the email thing as an adult (until quite recently), now count myself blessed by hundreds of pen-friends. Several times over the holidays I had the experience of meeting a reader for the first time, or running into someone I had not known well before, who said the same thing to me: “I hope you don’t think this is weird, but I feel like I really know you. I feel like you’re my best friend.”
No, I don’t think it’s weird at all. I am very deeply moved and honored by such comments. That’s the sweetest thing anyone could say to me. Psychologists concur that the desire to be truly known (and understood) is one of the most fundamental of human needs. The knowledge that, through my writing, I’ve made friends who get me and understand…who are truly kindred spirits…is mind-boggling. It is one of the greatest gifts that I’ve received from Katherine’s Mom’s Blog. There have been many.
When I first began writing, my feelings were just a wee bit hurt whenever someone would say how “cathartic” the blog must be for me. I guess the connotation in my mind was of someone vomiting her unfiltered emotions all over the internet for the express purpose of “feeling better.” Because blogging became something I felt called to do in the theological sense of the word, my pride was a little wounded by the thought that people might perceive it as nothing more than a personal emotional release. If that were the case, I thought, why not just write it in my journal?
But now I realize that it certainly has been cathartic.
Catharsis (Ancient Greek: Κάθαρσις) is a Greek word meaning "purification", "purging", "cleansing" or "clarification." It is derived from the infinitive verb of Ancient Greek: καθαίρειν transliterated as kathairein "to purify, purge," and adjective Ancient Greek: καθαρός katharos "pure or clean."
This is all terribly meaningful to me. Obviously, Katherine’s name comes from this stem. (She has been a pure soul from birth.)
I thank you who have wept and laughed and pondered life with me. It has, indeed, been both a purging and a cleansing. You have helped me to clarify and purify my thoughts and attitudes during this painful pilgrimage. I have felt a sense of accountability to you who have read my words and shared this time with my family and me. That has been an extremely positive force in my life. You have ministered to me with your words and prayers.
I have shared a lot…sometimes more than my family is entirely comfortable with. (Okay, English teachers: “more than that with which my family is entirely comfortable.” Just to show you I can do it if I have to. And, for the record, I’ve been aware of my fragments and run-ons all along.J)
It’s always a risk when you put yourself out there, with all of your warts and moles and booboos and bad breath and hairy legs and all. The fear of rejection often inhibits honesty: “What will people think of me? Will they judge me harshly? Will they be offended?”
But instead of judgment, I have received nothing but support, encouragement, and affirmation. Understanding. Compassion. Love.
“Transparency” is a word that has cropped up often in the affirming comments. If I do possess that trait, I must attribute it more to heredity than altruism. The impulsive nature that accompanies ADHD is the culprit in many a premature revelation or TMI (Too-Much-Information) diatribe.
But I long to be truly transparent.
Hopefully, I will become more and more so during this drawn-out procedure known as “sanctification.” As God continues cleaning me up from the inside out, there will be less and less to hide.
There are many peripheral stories that never made it onto KMB, caringbridge, or the other sites. I always meant to share this one:
When I left California for the first time after Katherine’s brain rupture in order to attend my youngest daughter’s high school graduation, my sister and her family flew out to take my place. While in Malibu picking up mail for Jay and Katherine, they decided to go up on the mountaintop to Serra Retreat, which is a very beautiful monastery overlooking the ocean. The park beside the monastery has steep winding paths with sea views that remind me of some of my favorite places in Italy or Greece. Along one of one of these paths, my sister Kelly ran into Mel Gibson. He was in an intense discussion with a young woman, evidently a newcomer to the AA meetings that are held at Serra. His eyes met Kelly’s. Although she didn’t want to interrupt the counseling session, she was led to speak to him and to identify herself as a fellow believer. In the aftermath of his reputation-destroying arrest, which he later described as the “stupid ramblings of a drunkard,” she felt the need to offer encouragement. Stumbling over her words, she said to him, “I just want you to know that I appreciate your honesty in admitting your failings.” He looked at her with those piercing baby blues and gave her a wry, slightly sad, smile. “Well, I’m not always totally honest,” he told her.
I appreciate his honesty in admitting that.
We human beings are all complicated labyrinths of consistency and contradiction, honesty and subterfuge, authenticity and fraud, transparency and obscurity. I believe that the sharing of our personal struggles in achieving fusion and wholeness can help to set others free. Over the years, God has brought some amazing people into my life who have modeled this for me. I’ve been blessed with friends whose honesty was startling…if not shocking…to me at first. But their transparency encouraged me to give myself permission to admit my own many fallings and failings. As I've said before, I believe that bringing our imperfections out into the light…bringing them to The Light…is ultimately healing and restoring. The process is simple: “Confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so that you might be healed.” (James 5:16) It is impossible to grow up and grow old on planet Earth without needing healing of some sort.
Katherine chose this quote for her wedding program:
“The love of God, unutterable and perfect, flows into a pure soul the way that light rushes into a transparent object. The more love that it finds, the more it gives itself, so that, as we grow clear and open, the more complete the joy of loving is. And the more souls who resonate together, the greater the intensity of their love, for, mirror-like, each soul reflects the others." (Dante, The Divine Comedy)
I believe that living out our lives as authentically and transparently as possible expedites this process of ‘soul purification,’ thus enabling us to experience the love of God in a much deeper way, and then to share that love with others. “She who hath been forgiven much loveth much.”
I am not a perfect person; we are not a perfect family. We were not so before Katherine’s brain rupture; we are not now. It’s been a little awkward receiving accolades. Over the holidays, I heard myself repeating this over and over again: “No, I’m not…but He is.” If anyone has gotten anything at all from this public sharing, then I hope this much is understood: I am NOT… “faithful” or “strong” or “amazing” or any other adjective that people have used in trying to encourage me (or maybe just to be polite.) I am most assuredly none of those things. Quite the contrary, as Miss Elizabeth Barrett said.
I really am just an average sinner. Maybe even above average.
But that is the whole point.
It’s all Him.
Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who, along with her entire family, was sent to a concentration camp by the Nazis for hiding Jews. She was the only one of her family to survive. In her wonderful book, The Hiding Place, she relates a conversation she had with her father as a child. She had expressed to him a fear of dying. (In particular, dying as a martyr for Christ.)
“Tell me,” said Father, “When you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?” “No, Daddy, you give me the ticket just before we get on the train.” “That is right,” my father said, “and so it is with God’s strength. Our Father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength... He will supply all you need — just in time...”
He handed me the ticket just as I got on the plane to fly to California on the night of April 21, 2008. And then He handed His own to the flight attendant and got on with me. He’s been with me for the whole trip. He’s the one who is faithful and strong and amazing. I don’t have to be.
I just have to lean on Him when I can’t stand any longer.
Actually, He’s carried me through most of it. I don’t know why I should be surprised by this.
He promised me He would the very first day I began writing.
He will carry you, too.
God bless you now and always.
P.S. Older readers (i.e., those who've stuck around a while) will know that this is just the first of many more p.s.’s to come over the next days, if not weeks to come. I can never finish a conversation. Takes me forever to get off the phone.
Long ago, a sweet lady wrote to encourage me to continue writing. Actually, she said that she would be willing to read just about anything I wrote, even if it were about “picking my toes.” I’m taking her at her word. As I said, KMB has given me many gifts. Not least among them is that I have finally, at this very late stage of the game, discovered “my voice.” George Eliot said “It is never too late to become what you might have been.” It seems that I have become a writer in spite of myself.
It was important for me to post this today in order to have some closure, and to force myself into a new direction. The process of getting there may take weeks as I attempt to set up a new blog…while going through a move and caring for James.
Please hang with me. Although I will no longer be sharing Katherine’s current story, there are a few 'p.s.’s' pertaining to what’s already been written here that I would like to post before I close up shop.
Also, I want to thank the many people who have asked about a book. Here’s the deal: I am a technophobe who has little time in which to improve my skills. I attempted to compile some of the entries into book form on “Blurb,” but the affordable version proved to be over my head. (Re-formatting and all that…lots of abbreviations I have no clue about.)
I am not giving up the idea, however. I am praying that if God wants it to happen, He will bring the right people to help me.
So, if anyone feels led to pray for me, I could use a book person and a blog designer.
Thank you, dear friends, for.....….....everything.
I would love to hear from you!
P.S.S. Since this turned out to be so long, I will tell the story of the picture on the previous posting another day. Please do keep checking in.