Many of you have followed Katie's journey...Today was Katie's service. I have learned a few things lately that has taught me that it's important to share... not just my work, but more of my heart. So here goes...
Today I woke up and got dressed in my Sunday best... kissed my girls goodbye... sent them to school, got into my mini-van... and started to drive. It was a chilly day... the wind whipped leaves around in a parade of vibrant colors. The view as I crossed over the bridge from Fidalgo Island, where Anacortes is located, was filled with cool, frosted farm fields. As I drove closer I saw foothills that had been freshly dusted with powdery snow. The somber valley reflected what my heart was feeling at that moment.
Shortly after realizing that correlation, I looked north to Bellingham where Katie's service was being held... where Katie's home was and her loved ones are. My heart swelled as I saw bright, piercing rays of sunshine peeling back the layers of gloom over the city to which I was headed. That's when I felt it... I felt that gift that God was giving to Katie’s family...and all of us that were headed to her service... beautiful rays of sun... just like Katie was to everyone she came in contact with! It was lovely, just like her... and the memories many of us share of her.
I arrived to Historic Bayview Cemetery and memories of past visits flooded in. Having lived in Bellingham for over a decade before moving to Anacortes, I have several friends and loved ones that now reside there. As I entered the Chapel and was seated I noticed the beautiful flowers that surrounded the simple and natural casket. Simple and natural… again, so very much like the Katie that I got to meet. The most wonderful adornments of the room were the hearts, HUNDREDS of huge hearts in those who attended. The love in the room was so thick! The soundtrack of this lovely scene consisted of sweet whispers and soft sniffles. The sound of hugs and warm embraces.
A Hospice Chaplin spoke about Katie’s overwhelming support from the online community… through her blog and cards and ability to be completely open… sharing herself so willingly with all of us. Katie brought people together from all over the world. I knew that many of my online friends had been thinking and praying for peace and love to be felt by Kevin and their three boys. I felt it there…and if I, having not been very close to Katie and never meeting Kevin before today could feel it, I can only imagine that they did.
Comforting and playful memories were shared by Katie’s best friend… a friendship sparked in the 4th grade at a birthday slumber party. It was wonderful to hear more about Katie. As her best friend shared… we smiled, cried and even busted out in laughter. Abundant love filled the room.
After saying the Lord’s Prayer and reciting Psalms 23, we watched as Katie’s casket was gently carried to the hearse and toward her final resting place. We all walked down in a long, silent parade. Steps were mingled with warm embraces and the soundtrack of sniffles still played in surround sound.
I noticed how many historic headstones surrounded where Katie would be. There was such a nostalgic feeling… I couldn’t help but to remember visiting Katie last winter. The Renz home is in a historic part of town… It’s like a little piece of the early 1900’s has been frozen with all of the beautiful period homes. As I sat with her twins and giggled over their toys… I could feel the love in her home. Her new home felt the same…nostalgic and warm… full of history and love.
I have to admit that at first it was hard looking at the boys, thinking of their futures. As I watched them rise and pat their beautiful Mother’s casket, wishing her goodbye, tears caught in my throat. I’ve lost friends who left small ones behind. It was hard on them… and their Dads. A sense of peace came to me just then. I looked up and took a panoramic view. Love, SO MUCH LOVE was flowing toward Kevin and the boys. Abundantly flowing, with all of the hope in the world for them. I know the road won’t be easy, but with all of that love and support full of loving memories of Katie… I think they will be OK and still have her “there”through them.
I stayed back and watched the guests meander up the hill…I was the next to the last one there. I contemplated and prayed. It came to me as I sat there… I want to be more like Katie. To be more open and willing to share my heart, to have more courage in the face of adversity… to be more real and feel more of the joy that is available to me. Life is precious… but it’s the people in my life that make it precious. Living isn’t enough… Living and Loving is what it’s all about.
I walked up to Katie’s casket… placed my hand on it and said farewell with a peaceful heart. As I walked away I softly sang Amazing Grace to myself and thanked my Father in Heaven for all of my blessings and for the blessing of briefly getting to meet and interact with His wonderful Daughter, Katie Renz.
'Till we meet again in Heaven, Katie... Farewell.