~PERFECTLY PRESERVED HYDRANGEA~
It's so good to be back doing something I love...something I loved for a long time. It's funny sometimes how unforeseen experiences can help return us to the very things we once had a great passion for...
Losing my cousin to cancer last month has helped me refocus on my life and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to once again find my voice~ I think I lost it for a while and if I'm being honest with you, a really big part of me wondered if I'd ever find it again.
~HYRANGEAS FROM ZION~
Kathy's treatment led my Mr. AGPMan and I to Zion, IL, about three months ago and while I was there I noticed more hydrangeas than I'd ever seen in one place. The weather was crisp and cold and snow was still on the ground. The flowers had dried on the vine and I was sure that before long they'd be chopped down by some well-meaning groundskeeper if i didn't gather them up while I had the chance. Kath and my Mr. AGPMan waited in the car and I roamed the hospital grounds...
And so, while they looked on, I snipped away at every single Hydrangea that had weathered the blistery winter storms of northern Illinois. By the time I was finished I had removed every single tattered bloom from the property...about 175 of the most beautiful dried Hydrangea flowers I'd ever seen.
Did I ask if I could take them?
~TATTERED BLOOMS for a TATTERED SOUL~
I figured no one but some crazy woman from the state of Oklahoma (with a pension for such flowers!) would be interested in what most people view as 'dead flowers'. The people there at the Cancer Treatment Hospital weren't interested in gathering flowers I can assure you. Every single care-worn face I saw was a person just trying to get well...stay alive...and survive their latest round of chemotherapy.
Kathy was different than other patients my hubby and I saw. She was so joyful and funny and thought that cutting down all those flowers was hysterical! When I got back in the car she said "there's no room for you, Beck! Only your flowers!!!"
Had it not been for Kathy's thinning snowy white hair and swollen cheeks, you'd have never known she was ill. She'd been diagnosed with bladder cancer a few months before and sought out treatment in Zion...it was there they gave her, and us, the greatest hope for her advanced cancer~
~KATHY and I in ZION~
I was more than honored to be a care-supporter for Kathy on the two separate trips I made to Zion. The first time my hubby and I made the twelve hour trip by car (which is why I was able to haul all those flowers home!) and three weeks later I flew back to Chicago to meet up with Kathy and her big sister Cindy.
~KATHY, CINDY & I in 2005~
~COUSINS BEING COUSINS (KATH & I ARE ON THE LEFT)~
It was on my 2nd trip to Zion that Kathy was told she would most likely succumb to her cancer. The chemo wasn't working and her tumors were growing...
As I said goodbye to Kathy and Cindy a couple of days later the shock of her terminal diagnosis still hadn't completely set in. We were dazed, confused and in total disbelief. What we didn't understand then was that Kathy had less than five weeks to live. She passed away on May 13, 2015 at the age of 56.
I returned from California about a week ago where Kathy's life was celebrated during a beautiful service attended by many loved ones and friends. I ordered Hydrangea flowers for her family, one for each member, to be planted in their private gardens in Kathy's honor...
Getting back to, well, breathing easy has been difficult. Still...it's been during my greatest bouts of grief over losing Kath that I've been able to hear again the sound of my own beating heart as it keeps in time with hers...
~IN KATHY'S MEMORY~
This past week while working on our kitchen renovation I was out tinkering in our garage and I found packed away, to the credit of my hubby, the dried Hydrangeas from Zion. I had completely forgotten about them. The perfectly preserved blooms rescued from a tiny little town far, far away home had found their way back into my life...
~CINDY, KATHY and ME~
Laying on top of the flowers was the card Kath had left for me...
It said this:
"To Beck...Thank you for sharing your heart with mine. May you again find a way to share it with the world.
I love you the last #... Kath"
Love to you...