Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The End is Where We Start From...

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.

Few are.

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...”

Not before.

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.

I promise.

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!

Love, Kim

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.


Donna Hawkins said...

Dearest Kim,
OK, so I flooded my keyboard with tears.....I have never met you in person and I feel I am saying goodbye to my best friend! No we are not perfect, only He is, but His plan has brought us together through this internet technology so that we may pray and support one another. I thank you for the courage to bare your soul. And yes, it is bittersweet to end a chapter and at the same time so exciting to begin a new one! Our ultimate goal is to all be together one day at the feet of our maker and I look forward to that day when we will finally meet! Love and God's Blessings to you my sister in Christ!

PS: I so look forward to your PS's!

Amy said...

It would be a little intimidating to write a comment to you since you are such a great writer. However, the writer in you has clearly communicated that you can be trusted with much, even my feeble attempts at writing. I hope this makes any sense.
I'm away right now with my husband as he is taking a week long course at seminary in Kentucky. We listened to an Alister Begg sermon as we drove up from Alabama. As he spoke above the tapestry of our lives being woven into something of supreme purpose by God, I thought of Katherine. So much heartache and pain experienced by a precious servant of the Lord. He must think much of her to carry you and your family even now. It is so apparent that He is doing a beautiful thing that we cannot fully understand. Thank you for being a window into this amazing story.

Elizabeth Richards said...

I feel like I am saying goodbye to a dear friend I have never met. I don't even remember how I first heard of Katherine's Story, but somehow I was connected to it the day after it happened. Ever since, I have faithfully followed your updates and prayed for healing for your entire family. My keyboard is also filled with tears. You and your family have profoundly affected my life and most importantly my walk with God. I understand why you need to move on, but it still is not easy to say goodbye. You have graciously let strangers into your life for almost 2 years. I will truly miss you. God has given you a gift. May God continue to bless you and Katherine for all that you have given to so many.

Laurel said...

There is a reason that graduation ceremonies are referred to as "commencement."

LittleHoya said...

There are no words to describe the impact your blog has had on my life. Something changed in me the day I heard Katherine's story. I have always been a Christian and absolute believer in the power of prayer. I remember when I first learned about Katherine because of facebook, and literally, every single day since then for the past (almost) 2 years, my husband and I have included your family on our prayer list before dinner. Other names have come and gone from the list, but Katherine's name has remained--a complete stranger.
Whenever I hear that someone has been rushed to the hospital and there is 'no hope', I tell the story of Katherine and the power of God to intercede.
Your blog has been a wonderful way to remain connected to Katherine's story and to understand a deeper layer of why, despite the fact that Katherine has come miles from where she started towards total restoration, there is still so much to continue to pray for.

Thank you so much. Katherine's story has changed my life. I'm so sad to see this blog end.

Barefootin said...

I too am very sad to see this blog go away. I have quoted you in my own blog many many times. :) you have been an inspiration to me especially as this last year has probably been the hardest for me spriritually. I BELIEVE that God has placed your blog in my life to help slowly draw me closer to him and to keep me from completely run away from Him. I can't explain how grateful I am for that. I truely believe that God is working you together with many many people that you will never meet or know.
Thank you so much for your honesty and allowing all of us to share in the process. I can't thank you enough for sharing your heart! And I can't wait to hear about the picture I have been waiting for it!!!
forever HIS child,

from our front porch... said...

My, my...
I just got here a few weeks ago. I read the entire blog over a 24 hour period. I do that when I find a blog I really love, one that inspires me!
But, I think I saw this coming. And, yes, Katherine can tell the rest of story now...
Keep writing. You have an awesome gift. Maybe you could name the blog, P.S.
And if you are looking for a great blog designer, just go to Nienies site. Scroll to the bottom. The info is there!

God Bless You, Kim!

xo, misha

p.s. don't forget to link your new blog with this one. You know, so we can find you :)

becky said...

Kim -
Count me as yet another of your "never met you" but "feels like you're an extremely close friend" friends. Katherine Mom's blog and Katherine's Caring Bridge site are the first things I check every morning. A new post from either of you means my heart, soul and faith are about to be stretched again. It is impossible to transmit in words what God's miracle in Katherine and His work in carrying all of you through this has done in my life and those I have shared your story with as well. The glorious tapestry God is weaving has many, many threads. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing so authentically the highs, lows and everything in between through these last almost two years. I will miss it and will look forward to your future writings as I will look forward to Katherine continuing to proclaim God's mighty power to heal and restore. Katherine and your family will remain always and forever in my prayers.
Becky Weber
Falls Church, Virginia

Danny & Allison said...

Dear Kim,
My breath caught in my throat as it slowly sunk in that this blog is ending. Your writing ministers to me like so many others, but our stories are similar and because of that, reading your words is like you are reading my heart. My husband sustained a traumatic brain injury in August 2005 and is still fighting to regain the life as he wants it. He was 30 years old and I was 28 and pregnant with our first child, a son. So we are not much older than Katherine and Jayson. I have been a follower of Christ for many years as well, but have never been as close to Him as I am now. As Katherine said on Sunday, what is true in the light is true in the dark. Your faithfulness has helped me stay faithful. I cried along with your words many times, but was so at peace at the same time. As you know, there are many steps in the journey, the marathon. It has been a pleasure and encouragement to run along the way together. Thank you and I look forward to more of your P.S.s. May God continue His work in us all and may He broaden the scope of ministry for you all. God bless!

linde said...

I am one of those who have followed this blog from the beginning. Thank you. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for risking. Thank you for being honest. Thank you for inviting us to be apart of God's story in you. I have not jut read, but prayed too! There is a season for everything. Thanks also for being sensitive to a new season. I will miss following your journey through the blog!

Jan B said...

Dear Kim,
I have followed your blog from the beginning- Yet, this is only my second post. I am sure that there are many out there like me... who have read your blog and been touched and changed forever by your words. We have received so much from you, yet for the most part we are an invisible audience. Eternity will reveal your true impact. What a blessing that Katherine is to the point that she can tell her own story. Her miracle continues, and I love reading her words- and hearing her voice as she shares with us... her invisible audience.
Thank-you Kim-
Thank-you Katherine-For sharing your story- to the Glory of God-

Briana said...

I don't believe I have ever commented and yet I have been following your blog from the beginning. I also went to Samford and have been praying for Katherine since I first heard about her injury. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your heart over this miraculous journey and for leaving us all with a lesson about strength, faith, and most of all hope!

wannabeabelle said...

But you still have YOUR story.

Most of us of a certain age can identify with the struggles of 'helping' an adult child in crisis..albeit non-life threatening. Yes, Katherine can tell her own story now--but she can't tell yours.

You wrote from the heart in the heat of the battle...not after the fact and you certainly did not find your faith in a collection of professional interviews. Your 'grace under fire' could have only been from strength given by God above; and we all learned if He could do it for 'Kim, average sinner,' He could do it for us too.

This new phase you are about to begin will surely bring new adjustments and a different set of challenges. The day to day living most likely will become hours of the mundane, punctuaed with moments of sheer terror as Katherine continues with treatments and surgeries. And although you,(actually most of us) would have never chosen this hand we were dealt in life...it is what it is. We survive...or perish.

You have been gifted with the art of writing. Please check in with us from time to time and share your spiritual insight as we all travel this journey of life together.

Emily Ferris said...

I don't have the words, except THANK YOU .. for sharing all the ups, downs, sillys, miracles, and more! I look forward to any (hopefully!) future writings. This post reminded me so of your about me - which I still come to a read about once a month! "Not because of my goodness, but because of HIS!" May God continue to bless you and your sweet family!

Marianne said...

Please don't stop writing. The journey is just going to be different now. Take us with you. So many of us (like me!) check every single day on you and your family. Keep writing. It's your gift--to us--to the world. Tell us what gifts you need from us. We're all in this with you--and together --in our own ways.
Marianne Causey in Athens

Kim Godawa said...

Dear Kim,
Oh no - I am so SORRY to see you go! Los Angeles truly lacks intimacy and honesty; which is why your blog has been such a huge blessing to me. Although I have never met you either, I hear God's voice through your words. Thank you for sacrificing your time and effort to speak to us on a regular basis. I do hope you continue to update us on life as your point of view is unique and thought-provoking.
With much love,

Wes said...

Goodness. I don't know how to begin to tell you how much your writing has impacted my life. I am a mother of two little boys (4,2) and never seem to find the time to type a comment, eventhough I have wanted to many times. I MOST tell you this. . . I was alerted to Katherine's situation through Athens Academy. (I graduated 6 years before her) Since the beginning I have prayed and checked in with your blog. My four year old, Nate, has seen me look at the various websites and I have told him that we all needed to pray for Katherine. He has many times at bedtime. But it had been a while since we had spoke of her. Then, a few days ago, he woke up and ran to me in the kitchen. I was cooking breakfast, and he was right under me, pulling on my pjs, saying "Mama, I had a dream. . .Mama, I had a special dream. . .Mama, what is your friend's name?" I started saying names of my friends that he knew. . but he became frustrated and keep saying no,no,no. Finally, he said, "Mama, the one that looks like an angel and has a baby that looks like Noah (my 2 yr old). I stopped, then asked, "Katherine??" He burst into excitement, yelling "YES YES. I had a special dream Mama and I KNOW she is going to be ALL better. . .Jesus told me."
WOW!!!! That's all I can say.

THANK YOU FOR SHARING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My family will continue to pray.

In Christ- Michelle Manning Popiel

Linda Abney said...

Well dear friend. It will happen. When you least expect it He will open the door to a new dimension of communicating His love. He is so wonderful at fulfilling His purposes. May His plans unfold like a flower...one lovely petal at a time.