Friday, June 5, 2015

~LESSONS LEARNED...ONE PETAL AT A TIME...~

~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...
~BEAUTIFUL 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?  

No.
~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.
 ~BEAUTIFUL KATHY~

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)~

~BROWNIE GIRL SCOUT HELPERS~

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...
 ~SHARING MEMORIES~

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...

9 comments:

NanaDiana said...

I hope it is okay that I am bawling away here-because I am. God bless you as you mourn the loss of your sweet cousin. The Lord is holding her hand till you get there to take over. xo Diana

20 North Ora said...

Rebecca - Am so sorry for the loss of your sister. I also lost a sister a few years ago and it just leaves such a void in your life. Especially if you were close and apparently you definitely were.

How special you got to spend that precious time with her and your other sister. And now, you have the hydrangeas to always remind you that you will see her again some day.

Prayers for you and your family as you go thru this time of loss.

Judy

20 North Ora said...

Sorry - I thought it was your sister. Still tho, a real loss.

Judy

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Rebecca,
So sorry to read this about your cousin who was like a sister to you.
It hurts losing a loved one, lost my Mom on January 27...
And so happy your kitchen has been nearly completed by now! How clever Steve did hide wiring and such behind the custom made crown mold! Lots of work but it worked out perfect in the end and that's what counts.
Sending you hugs,
Mariette

Stacey said...

Wow Rebecca. I'm so sorry for your loss. You were with her from the beginning to the end...what a wonderful gift.

Teresa Hennes said...

I am so sorry for your loss. She sounds like such a beautiful person. I say sounds like as she is still there with you. I certainly know what you are going through as we have been going through this with mom for the last year+. She is terminal, but still with us. But who knows how much longer.
It must have been such a shock to find out about your cousin's cancer and then for her to be gone so fast. So please accept my condolences. BIG HUG to you and your family.

Sandi@ Rose Chintz Cottage said...

Rebecca, I'm so sorry for the loss of your cousin. I too lost someone very special in April. My beloved uncle who was only eight years older than me had lung cancer and he was more like the big brother I never had. Losing someone we're close to is like losing a piece of ourselves. I think you did a lovely job of sharing and we all feel your pain. The hydrangeas are beautiful, just like you.

Blessings,
Sandi

Tamara said...

Dear Rebecca,
I'm so sorry to hear of your great loss. How blessed she was to have your loving support and kinship. She sounds like a fun loving and very special person and what wonderful photos you have to cherish some of your times together. It inspires me to want to take more. It's a mystery and a miracle to me how God uses the painful to bring forth beauty. I have missed your wonderful posts and have thought of you often. I'm so happy that you found the lovely Hydrangeas and your voice again! I will be praying for you and your family.

Love and blessings,
Tamara

Deanna said...

I HATE CANCER.
I am so very sorry for this loss. Am speechless.
d

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