In the month of October, I traveled to NYC for a birth parent visit, to Michigan to surprise my mom for Halloween, did four speaking engagements and 31 days of kindness. During all of that, we were also privately waiting while our friend Karolin finished her battle with leukemia. You may remember Karolin from Day 4, where I described her as a brave warrior. Well, she was. And while her body lost that battle yesterday, her soul won, as she is now safely home with her Heavenly Father.
When I told Jay that our sweet friend (his "ice cream buddy") wasn't going to get better, he paused for a moment as if looking for a solution then said "Jesus can hold her!" That was my goodbye to Karolin on Wednesday... kisses, hugs, lots of tears, just enough complimenting her to get an exaggerated, slow-motion eye roll, and a few reminders. Namely, that Jesus is waiting to hold her.
I told her that she did so well. She did well at life, and she did well at approaching death. She did it all with incredible faith and grace. I told her that she still looked smokin' hot (insert that 60 second eye roll here). I told her that she is loved. And I told her that Jesus could hold her.
And then he did. Yesterday evening, after four years of battling this thief of a disease, and after being tenderly held and cared for around the clock by Carrie. Jesus allowed these two to be parted so that he could take over the holding. Never in my life have I seen someone care so diligently for another. While Carrie was not Karolin's "mom" in the traditional sense, she was the only mom Karolin had on this earth. As a mother to both biological children and children who belonged to a different mama first, I have it on pretty good authority to say that a mother can come in a variety of different forms, and Carrie was Karolin's in every conceivable way. This could not have been more evident in these past four years.
When I met Karolin 10 years ago, she was best friends with Lexi (who has become one of my best friends) and I only ever knew her as an extension of Carrie. I have never been to a place that Karolin lived that wasn't in or attached to Carrie's house. I have never walked into one of Karolin's countless hospital rooms without signs of Carrie (or Carrie herself) all over the place. She loved and cared for Karolin just as any mother would, maybe a little better even. Watching she and Lexi relentlessly care for, advocate for, and love on such a precious girl was truly a gift to see. A nightmarish, devastating, heart-wrenching and beautifully inspiring gift.
And today I am sad. Just so unbelievably sad. But despite the overwhelming desire to stay in bed with the covers over my head, and cry about my friend, and cry for my friends who are crying about their friend... I will be boarding a plane to Paris. It is the stupidest thing to write about these two starkly different things happening today, but I do primary content. And this is my primary content. My friend just died of leukemia and I am going to Paris. This trip was a gift given to me back in June for my birthday, from Tom and my friend Melissa. They surprised me with a ticket for Melissa and I to take another "bestiemoon." But as it turns out, the flights were so reasonable at the time that Melissa and I decided to surprise Tom on Father's Day with his own ticket and permission to crash our bestiemoon. So, the three of us are heading to France.
I feel all the things. I feel torn about leaving while my friends and family are grieving this enormous loss. I feel exhausted and sick and beyond sad. I feel crushed. But Karolin, Carrie and Lexi all told me to go. And while I am under no assumption that any of them actually need me here, I feel terrible about going right now. Their enthusiastic permission has allowed me to come out from under the covers and get out of bed and pack up my stuff to go. And much like I spent October running all over the place, doing all sorts of crazy things in honor of a kindhearted young life that I so adored... I will spend November doing much of the same.
Only I will do it France.
For these three.