fall and transitions: living with what is

east lake in fall-3338My favorite season has always been Fall: vivid colors of falling leaves against the tourquois sky, warm days, crisp nights – sleeping under a cozy comforter with the windows open. My memories include drives along Lake Michigan with my family to choose the juiciest Michigan apples to take home to make applesauce. They include the surprise of seeing my Dad get his one and only moving violation ticket near Michigan City for running a red light. In his defense, he thought it was a four-way stop – the only type of traffic signal in my small hometown. Nowadays, the crisp air and falling leaves mark a new transition.

In Kansas, the last week has been cloudy. And with the early evening darkness caused by the shift from Daylight Savings Time, the weather and external environment are reflections of my journey. For in the last week, my diagnosis has changed from stable disease to end stage, aggressive ovarian cancer. I’ve felt fear and pain. I’ve been embraced with kindness and compassion. I’ve known anxiety and anger. I have laughed and cried.

Muir Woods Redwoods

Muir Woods: Scattering Site for John Foster’s ashes

Living with what is” is the ultimate challenge. It is the dancing “and” … . Unless I seek to fully know the pain and suffering, I cannot fully know healing and joy. Pain and healing, suffering and joy, grief storms and  peaceful calmness … I choose to allow the dancing “and” to weave the threads of my life, to fully expand my heart and soul. On Sunday afternoon as I sat among the people who will be my caregivers through my final transition from this life, I was overwhelmed by the enveloping grace and power of the love that surrounds us.

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13 Responses to fall and transitions: living with what is

  1. Amy says:

    Oh, my beautiful sister! With a heavy heart, I know this to be a pain beyond any we’ve known. Physical pain and emotional pain for you and your family. Your photography and prose, as always, speak to my heart. Today my heart breaks reading your piece. I see you handling this with such grace, I can’t imagine how. I admire you and love you always.

  2. Kelly Annette Born says:

    The “Dancing ‘And'”. Love this personification of a word whose literal purpose is to connect! And such truth. You are making the ultimate application of it now. It is as if your spirit is sad and soaring at the same time. I am in such a state of appreciation for you. It is a blessing that you share this navigation of your “isness” especially in this ultimate place of challenge. Thank you for sharing what only you can empirically know right now!
    You have always been a beautiful “dancer’, Kathleen. And now you are becoming a prima ballerina!
    ……….The learning and growth continues!

  3. Trish Brenneman says:

    Oh Kathleen, what an inspiration you are!!!! Thinking and praying for you and your family during this part of your journey!!!🙏💝

  4. Kathleen, my heart breaks reading this. Sending you and Jon and all your caretakers much love and holding all of you in the Light.

  5. Sally Troyer Miller says:

    Kathleen, thank you for sharing your kind gentle spirit with your meaningful words of memories, pain and joy as you travel thru this thing we call life. I believe you will always be a part of my journey because of your willingnrss to share and for that I am grateful. I admire your attitude, hear the truth of struggle, and desire to choose to live with a positive outlook as you have. I am grateful for my belief in our life after we call heaven. You and yours are in and will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  6. I am holding you in my heart. May your dance be vibrant, authentic, holding together things that are too deep for words. May you feel this as a holy dance, for such it is.

  7. Kathleen — My heart is squeezed with anguish as I read your words. I’m holding Sacred Space for you and those you love; may they and your caregivers be filled with HeartLight as they help you transition.

  8. Elaine Davis says:

    Kathleen, your courage has been such an inspiration to me. I am holding you in my heart, praying for you, Jon and your caregivers.

  9. Anna Friesen says:

    Kathleen, may you continue to find that “the best “there” is the simple, moment-to-moment awareness of the love that surrounds us.” You are surrounded by love that will sustain you. You have learned to be your own best guide, and that will serve you well as you transition.Your thoughtfulness and sense of order inhabit my life: when I lay out towels for guests and remember how you thoughtfully laid out fresh towels each day for us on our overnight stays with you and Jon; when I am in my studio and use the portable art supply organizer you introduced to me; whenever I do art and remember it feeds my soul and life. Now you are showing me how to meet the end of life with awareness, grace, and love – there aren’t many who can do that. Thank you for sharing your journey. Thank you for your eloquence, insightfulness and love for Jon and his family

  10. Kathy Wray says:

    Kathleen
    My heart sunk when I read about your health change. You have been in my prayers for months now and I was deeply saddened! You have been such an example of what it means to live in Christ! I pray that you will feel God’s presence on this journey and know that others care deeply for you and your family and will continue praying!
    Lovingly!
    Kathy Wray

  11. Karen S Smucker says:

    Kathleen, we were so sorry to hear about this change. You, and your family, are in our prays as you walk this Way.

  12. Phil Troyer says:

    Thank you for this post. Your Dad had called me the day after your hospital visit you and your family have been in my thoughts so much. It gives me cause to recall the last 6 weeks of Betsy’s life after we knew her physical life time was medically predicted as short. Thank You.

  13. Crystal Oster says:

    Sending Prayers your way. May God’s peace of mind and calming spirit be with you and your family. May you always feel God’s comforting presence with you. Warm hugs from us. Crystal + Brian Oster.

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