A public memorial is being planned in a month or two for all those who knew and loved my sister Karen, but the last night I was there, we held our own small family memorial for her at home.
We created an altar right in the middle of the kitchen table, all the women working together. A collage of photos printed out and laid on a raised bed of brocade and lace, decorated with her favorite flowers (orange roses) and flanked with fat white candles and her full name written out in long-hand - it was a homage to her beauty and love of dramatic flair and I think she would have liked it.
And even now, a week and two days after her death, it's still hard to believe she's gone. I still don't want to let her go.
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People have been amazing. So many comments here and notes and emails and phone calls offering love and empathy; so many kindnesses, large and small. A beautiful huge bouquet of flowers arrived today.
I feel like I am moving in the grace of the human spirit right now - there seems to be an instinct that kicks in during these times of great loss and sadness. An instinct that reaches out from within us and needs to touch and connect with another in compassion and solace. I hope things never get so bad that we lose that faculty because it has a strength that can sustain us through anything and when things are hard it's all that's left that really means anything.
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Here's the little altar I built for her in my office (with one of the branches from today's bouquet in a vase):
That's me sitting in the back, and here is the prayer I'm sending out:
May Karen's blazing red-haired spirit continue to burn brightly in all those who have been touched by her, and may that flame spark an eternal delight in life and resounding kindness in all who are warmed by it.