It was totally unexpected. This morning her son sent an email saying that Karen had died during the night. I still can’t believe it; Karen. Funny, deeply spiritual, gifted writer and teacher, devoted mother to her three children…that Karen.
Most of my relationship with Karen, in the last few years, has been by phone or email. We talked a lot about writing, but more than that, we shared our joys and sorrows as Christian mothers. We both cared deeply about our Christian faith, and wondered endlessly about this new movement or that odd principle or another emerging star in the pulpit.
We laughed at how, when we got together, we could always pick up where we left off. She was a very fun and funny friend. Our times together were so seldom and brief, even when we lived in Wisconsin, that we “parallel-talked,” which is to say we’d both talk at the same time, and never miss a beat.
One time we met at a coffee shop in Oconomowoc because I’d called and said I had to talk to her. We were sitting in a booth and I told her some really bad news about our family. Karen stared at me for a moment, and then stood up and signaled the waitress, shouting and jabbing her finger at our table: “Chocolate! We need CHOCOLATE here! NOW!!!”
There was another time, when we got kicked out of Applebee’s, she tipped the waitress $20 at the restaurant we went to, and told her to tell the manager at Applebee’s how much we’d spent after he told us we couldn’t stay.
In April, 1999, Karen gave me the daily devotional EXPERIENCING GOD DAY BY DAY. I read it almost every day, and always think of Karen when I do, thanking God for her. I’ve spilled coffee on that book, cried while reading it, had the words in it strike a chord in my heart, and I’d write Karen a note, or perhaps call her on the phone to talk about it.
And now, for the tiredest cliche of all: I can’t believe she’s gone.