Thursday, March 28, 2013

Love Isn't Terminal by Karen Rock


Celine Dion said it best when she sang, ‘Near- far- wherever you are- I believe that- the heart will- go on-' And it does. Bodies are temporary, yet love is eternal. A life may end, but emotions never stop. A character in my upcoming novel, WISH ME TOMORROW, said, "I love you more than I can say. My body might quit, but this,” he tapped his chest, “is yours. Forever.”We love those we’ve lost in the PRESENT TENSE. Love is an unstoppable force, and like energy, it can never be destroyed.
 
My very first experience with loving someone after they’d passed happened in middle school. My cat, Courtney, gave birth to three perfect kittens. I washed and held them before she so much as got a tongue on them. Best of all, my parents let me choose one for my own- Oreo- whom I named for her black fur and white belly. I adored her for all of her irreverent ways, like the collection of couch fluff she hoarded and snacked on under my bed, her insatiable need to lick anything shiny, and the joy she took from leaping into paper grocery bags then rearing up to scare us when we reached for another item. Yet it was her preference for snoozing on warm asphalt that was the death of her. Despite my shouts, my mother backed her car out of the driveway and killed a napping Oreo instantly. I couldn’t accept her death. For weeks, I followed my routine of waking in the middle of the night and opening the back door to call for her. Yet I knew she rested under our willow tree, her shoebox coffin packed with couch fluff. My love for Oreo has never stopped. Yet, like all hearts, mine’s expanded to love several more, unforgettable pets.

Another inspiring example of enduring love occurred when I moved into my neighborhood twelve years ago. At a welcome party, a lovely eight-year-old introduced herself by saying, “Hi, I’m Meghan and my best friend lives in heaven.” I returned her smile, shocked but touched, and asked her more about her friend. Her friend, Chelsea, had died of cancer a few months ago. Despite the loss, Meghan said she felt lucky that she was best friends with an angel and told me that she talked to her every night in her prayers. It melted my heart. For someone so young, this beautiful child had learned what we adults know, that our feelings don’t change when the one we love has passed from this world. I've watched with admiration and pride over the years as Meghan's worked tirelessly to raise thousands of dollars for Chelsea's Rainbow, a charity created by her family. 

My neighbors, Marty and Kathy, however, are the ultimate example of love conquering all and the inspiration for WISH ME TOMORROW. They met as RN candidates in an anatomy and physiology class. Marty was the strong one, who took charge of a pig dissection while Kathy filled in lab sheets and peaked between her fingers. Yet soon it would be Kathy’s turn to make a courageous choice. Marty was diagnosed with Leukemia and expected that he and Kathy would break up when he shared the news. To his surprise, not only did Kathy stay with him, she cared for him during his treatments, helped him keep up with school work, and lifted his spirits by rarely leaving his side. Since they’d only dated two months before his diagnosis, it was more than Marty had dreamed possible. By their graduation, they’d fallen deeply in love and married soon thereafter. Twenty years later, Marty is cancer free and they have three beautiful children and a loving marriage that’s an inspiration to all that know them. Marty says that Kathy is the strongest woman he knows and I agree.

Thank goodness for Kathy, and brave people like her, who give their hearts freely to those who need love the most. Staying with someone who is ill, caring for them regardless of the future, loving them long after they’re gone, doesn’t give you a medal for bravery, but it should.  If I could design it, the badge would read THE HEART WILL GO ON. It would be a testimony to the strength and willing sacrifice we make to stand by those we love, in good times and bad- knowing that no loss is final as long as love endures.

Please share your thoughts, stories, or a dedication to someone who is gone but always with you. Comment below and be entered for this week’s giveaway, a copy of Margot Early’s beautiful Heartwarming A LITTLE LEARNING about a widower who learns to share his heart again, friendship bracelets from me to you, and an autographed bookmark for my Young Adult romance CAMP BOYFRIEND with a scan code on the back to download the series prequel CAMP KISS for free.  I will announce the winner here and on my facebook page www.facebook.com/JKRockwriters . Thank you for your courage in sharing your stories!

30 comments:

  1. You're correct about courage in sharing your stories... I tend to tell the lighter ones because it's not easy wading into these waters. I admire your ability to do so with an eloquence that helps readers tap into their own mixture of emotions. That's a truly admirable skill.

    Your words touched a chord today and all that I feel able to share is that I miss and love my nephew who was taken from his family too soon. I am heartened by the idea that love isn't terminal, and the reminder is very timely as we prepare to celebrate Easter in my home.

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    1. Hi Joanne! Easter has always been a time for me to reflect on those I've lost but will never stop loving as well. Your nephew was taken too soon but I know how much he is loved by you and all your family. Wishing you a peaceful holiday.

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  2. Oh, I'm sniffing. And your poor mom running over the cat. I had a black and white cat named Aquila. He loved me so much that he would jump from the floor and into my arms if I didn't pick him up to hug.

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    1. You are so right to think of my poor mom, Pam! She cried harder than anyone and to this day wants to know the whereabouts of all the animals before she leaves her garage! Aquila sounds adorable and so affectionate :) Thanks so much for commenting!

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  3. Beautiful. I lost my Brother n law about 5 years and it still hurts..This one day my husband and I went to buy a car and the person that was trying to sell us a car started saying things I didn't like and all I could think of was Jerry my sister's husband. He was a car dealer and I started crying right there in front of this person. I walked out of the building. Everything he was saying was hitting me in the wrong way. We always bought are car's from Jerry and he never cheated us but this person was and I didn't like it..We left and never went back there.

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  4. Your story made me cry! How brave of you to share it and also to have gone to a new dealership with your brother-in-law's loss still hurting. If only that car dealer could read your note and realize how important it is to be kind to people every day. I'm sorry you went though that experience. Your love for your brother-in-law is so strong and I know it must comfort him to know he's in your heart. Thank you for sharing your touching story.

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  6. I love this post!

    I lost my father to Cancer when I was 22. It was hard not having him there on all the special days,like my wedding day. But he found a way to let me know he was with me. On the day I was married, my Mother's clock stopped at exactly the time I was married! We took a picture of it so we'd remember he's always with us, that his love carries on.

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    1. Oh my goodness, that is incredible! Your father was finding a way to show you that he was there for your special day! How amazing and beautiful. His love for you made that miracle happen. You missed him so much that day but what a blessing to know he was with you all along. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story, Marcy

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  7. Losing someone you love is profoundly life changing, but I love how you reflected on the power of love. That never goes away!

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    1. Tara- it means so much that you commented on this post! You are one of the most courageous women I know and your focus on the positive blows me away. You are exactly right. Love never leaves us- even though our loved ones must sometimes leave us too soon. Thank you, Tara. Wishing you a peaceful holiday:)

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  8. Wonderful thoughts, Karen. This is precisely why we need to be kind to and tolerant of everyone who crosses our path. Everyone has lost someone. (pets are people, too.) Everyone lives with a little part of their heart gone with a lost loved one. Every time we square our own shoulders to shift our burden so we can help someone else bear theirs, I think that broken heart is patched and made stronger so they can do the same for someone else. Our mission is to keep giving, keep loving - the well is bottomless.

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    1. You said that so beautifully, Muriel, Thank you! We do need to talke care with each other, ourselves and even our world to make everyone's lives better. Money, fame, looks... None of that ranks even close to the value I place on kindness. A kind person is the one I want to know because, as you said, they make us stronger and able to pay that positivity forward. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful insights.

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  9. You ladies have got to stop making me cry at work :) Beautiful post Karen!

    Happy Easter!

    xo
    Jen

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    1. I cried through this one too, Jennifer!

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    2. That's so sweet Jen and Joanne! I've lost family members to cancer and it was hard enough to write about Oreo and the rest of the post without crying too. The feelings I have are still as strong as having those people with me right now. One of my grandmothers passed away at Easter and I guess it was what inspired me to write this because I still write her name in crayon on an Easter egg and dip it in her favorite color (red) and I always eat that one first in her honor. She introduced me to Harlequin novels and what to expect from a man in a marriage and I hope to continue that legacy with my own daughter and my books with Heartwarming. Thanks for commenting Jen!

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  10. This is a beautiful post. (My black and white cat was named Boots--he just disappeared one day.) I loved Marty and Kathy's story, too. Thanks for sharing this and making me a good kind of weepy.

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    1. Thank you, Liz! And 'a good kind of weepy' is now, officially, my favorite phrase :) Boots is such an adorable name and I can tell how much you still care for her. There is something very special about those black and white cats! I've had a cat disappear on me (Ginny) and I looked for years only to discover an elderly man was keeping her as indoor cat. They looked so happy together that I made the hard choice to leave Ginny, even when she trailed me to his front door. That was awfully hard to walk away from because I'd never stopped loving her and I never will, although I'm pretty sure she's passed on by now. I'm so glad you stopped by to share your thoughts:)

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  11. This is a wonderful post! The most profound loss I have experienced to date was the baby we lost 7 years ago. I was almost to the end of my first trimester and had no warning. It was devastating for many reasons but especially because I didn't know how to explain it to my boys who were 6 and 18 months at the time. I still keep the sonogram picture on my dresser and each year on what was my due date we eat cupcakes and sing Happy Birthday to Autumn. I've had several opportunities over the years to reach out to other women who've lost babies as well and it's been a tangible example of something good coming out of something bad. :)

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    1. Oh, Jen, you touched me so much. Thank you for your courage in sharing Autumn with us. You are so brave, strong, and a beautiful person to reach out to help other women who need the comfort only someone who has experienced it has. It is such a beautiful tribute to Autumn that you celebrate her birthday with cupcakes every year. She is a part of your family and always will be in your heart right next to your wonderful sons.
      My sister lost her baby near the end of her second trimester and it broke my heart as she had to go through labor to deliver her baby whom we named Rose. I remembered thinking that I wished I could climb in that bed and take my sister's place, take that pain from her, even for a little while because it was impossible to bare. But when I got to hold and rock a bundled Rose, I understood that we all would grieve for her and love her always as a part of our family. I was going to be her godmother and that is still what I consider myself to be. I wish I had a picture of her, like your sonogram picture, because I can see how much it would mean to connect that way.
      Okay- will stop the tears now but not before I thank you for helping me too with your courage.

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    2. I love the name Rose and I'm so sorry for your sister's loss. :( All of these stories shared here have been wonderful to read.

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  12. Karen, the line you shared from your book took my breath away! I lost my 1st boyfriend, Andre, many years ago in a tragic accident. I remember clearly how he so passionately expressed his love for me. Andre often shared that he just didn't know how much time he had left on this earth and we should grab it and love it all. So glad we did. There is no doubt that he still watches out for me and my family with great love. I know he's smiling everytime I play Led Zeppelin's "Misty Mountain Hop". Thank you for sharing this beautiful story with us.

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    1. Jeanne, your relationship with Andre was beautiful in the special way that young love can be. It is a terrible tragedy that you didn't 'have the chance to live your lives together, but your love for each other is still strong. Misty Mountain Hop is one of my favorite songs too and there is nothing like music to put you back in time and remember all over again what your heart hasn't forgotten. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful love story.

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  13. I'm loving the stories everyone is sharing. It's true that we've all been touched by loss.

    I lost my Dad to cancer five years ago. When he got really sick, I took leave from work to move in and care for him those last few weeks of his life. It wasn't easy, but I don't regret a single day. Even the ones where I'd call my mom crying and telling her I couldn't do it anymore! I'm glad she told me to put my big girl panties on and just take care of him the best I could. A lot of times, I'll look at the clock and it will say 12:29 (my birthday). I always think that it's my dad's way of saying he loves me even beyond the grave.

    Great post, Karen!

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  14. Syndi you are such a loving daughter and strong woman. Your mom was right to encourage you to stay with your dad because you love him so much she knew you'd want every minute left with him. I 100% agree that the clock is your father's way of reaching out and telling you that he loves you too. My great aunt always used to give us change when she visited but saved dimes for me because they were my favorite. Even when we grew up, she was always so generous in helping us when we struggled financially. After she passed away, whenever I found myself in a crisis moment, a dime would appear in the most unlikely places. Like your father, it's her way of giving back the love we continue to feel for them. Your dad, and mom, sound like incredible people which makes sense since they raised an amazing daughter. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story with us. After reading everone's comments, i now believe that life is more beautiful than fiction.

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  15. These stories are all so touching, am crying along with each of you. I like to think crying is a way we have of sharing someone else's pain and hopefully with our empathy, pain at loss can be lessened a little.

    My brother was 17 when he lost his 2 year fight against cancer. This year marks 18 years since we lost him and even though the sharpness of the loss has faded, it doesn't take much to reduce me to tears when I remember what a thoroughly wonderful and selfless person he was and how bravely he bore his illness through already difficult teenage years. His sense of humour never faded and I will always remember his last words, the day before he died, to his overly chatty big sister "shut up now, you're hurting my ears".

    Sometimes, if I'm feeling a little melancholy, the lights in my lounge seem to dim a little then regain their normal strength. I'm certain that's my brother, in his own way telling me to "woman up" and get on with the life I've been blessed with :)

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  16. Catherine, your love for your brother is tangible and beautiful. I cried when I read his last words to you- such a brotherly thing to say! I agree that the dimming lights are your brother's way of connecting with you- how caring to reassure you that he's still in your life and always your brother. Christie, the main character in my novel WISH ME TOMORROW also loses a brother to cancer when she was 17 and he's very much a part of her adult life. Thank you so much for sharing your moving story!

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  17. Congratulations, Jen! You are the winner of today's Giveaway! Please email me your mailing info and I'll send it out ASAP!

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  18. This post and the comments are a true inspiration. I have cried at many of them, and my heart goes out to each and every one of you.

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