Today would have been my friend Karin’s birthday. She died on Easter Sunday. Seven months ago we didn’t think she’d live to see 2013. Yet seven days ago we were planning to send her birthday cards in the hope that she’d hang on for a few more days.
For three-and-a-half years, Karin fought cancer as well as anyone I’ve known. She and her husband Steve discovered that she’d have a bad week after chemotherapy, followed by a “good” week before the next round of treatments. They used those good weeks to spend time with family and to visit the beach that she loved.
Last summer, when Steve realized it was unlikely that Karin would see another birthday, he threw a big surprise party for her at a neighbor’s house. During the party, they played a videotape of Karin’s 2003 appearance on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” in which I was no help as her phone-a-friend lifeline.
On February 22, Steve emailed Karin’s friends with the sad news that her liver was failing and that she may only have a few days left. He wrote, “Cancer is a horrible disease, but it has afforded Karin the opportunity to say good-bye for now to the people she loves. It is wonderful to see.” Four days later, she had stabilized and Steve wrote, “It seems Karin was not ready to say good-bye, and by God’s grace she may be with us a little while longer.” During Karin’s unexpected bonus weeks, she was able to go the beach in Florida one more time.
Church music meant a lot to Karin. She was a member of the contemporary choir at Sacred Heart Cathedral. As my wife and I were getting ready to leave the surprise party in August, Karin pulled my wife aside and whispered in her ear, “I want you to sing Ave Maria at my funeral.” The choir and my wife will sing for Karin next Tuesday starting at 10:00 a.m. at Sacred Heart.