Sunday, November 18, 2018

Karen's Memorial Service

We're still at the point where every day seems like a milestone of sorts. Today's milestone was, of course, Karen's memorial service, which was a difficult but beautiful day.

Katharine read the life sketch that Reid wrote, which prompted both tears and laughter from those in attendance, and then Rachel got up to read a poem that Sarah wrote. It was really quite a lovely poem and I wished a thousand wishes that Sarah could have expressed those tender feelings to her mother while she was still alive, not so much for Karen's sake but for Sarah's sake.

That's not to say that Karen would not have benefitted from hearing those words while she was alive because I think she would have. But she still got to hear those words.

Rather, I wish for Sarah that she could have approached her mother with the same tone that she did in her poem while her mother was still alive because I think it's a lot harder for those in our earthly sphere to wait than it is for those on the other side. And I think Sarah needs to know that her mom loved her so much it hurt. It will take awhile before Sarah can hear those words (but perhaps she will learn to feel them).

Somehow it will all work out.

Speaking of Sarah, we recorded the service for her. The prison wouldn't let her video-call into the service, nor would they allow us to send in a taped service, but they did say we could send her an audio recording, so that's what we did.

Andrew and Emily played a beautiful duet on the piano and cello (respectively) of Karen's favourite hymn: I Stand All Amazed.

We had three musical numbers and it was quite comical because everyone remembered that Karen's favourite hymn was I Stand All Amazed, so Emily brought down the sheet music for Andrew to learn when she came down last week. Reid and Karen's BYU ward put together a choir and announced that they had selected a piece—I Stand All Amazed. And then Miriam wanted to play and organ piece since Grandma has consistently been ward organist for about 45 years and had been helping Miriam with her organ studies. Miriam chose...I Stand All Amazed.

We joked about having it be the opening and closing song, too, and making an announcement about everyone opening up to hymn number 193 and then just leaving their books open because it was the only song we'd be singing.

But then we found the funeral plans she'd written up several years ago (in the middle of a document called "passwords," which was mostly passwords (but also, apparently, funeral plans)) and found some other music that she thought she'd like at her funeral.

So Andrew and Emily played I Stand All Amazed and Miriam played There is a Green Hill Far Away and the BYU kids sang I'm Trying to be Like Jesus.

Uncle Clark spoke, and then Grandpa, and the bishop.

I don't think there was a dry eye or suppressed giggle the whole meeting. We were all one mess of tears and laughter as far as I could see.

At the end of the meeting we filed to the back of the cultural hall for milk and cookies, which is something Karen asked for us to do in her funeral plans. When Reid was the bishop for the BYU ward they would hold a College Cookie Kegger at the start of each new semester, and Karen would bake dozens and dozens of cookies for the BYU kids to munch on while they got to know each other.

This time Karen didn't have to lift a finger—our current ward and the Northride 2nd ward supplied the milk and cookies. Everyone had a great time milling around, catching up and reminiscing. It was such a positive way to end a memorial service that we had quite a few people tell us that they want to do the very same thing at their funeral.

And, truly, it was a mood changer.

People were talking and laughing, which is just what Karen would have wanted.

Later we would reassemble at the stake center for a family lunch, which I will write about later because it's late and I'm exhausted and...I'm teaching Relief Society tomorrow. It's my own doing, really. They offered to get a substitute for me but, honestly, it was nice to have something to focus on this week (besides all the death and funeral stuff) and I really liked the talk I was assigned to teach (Divine Discontent by Sister Michelle D Craig) and I just don't feel the same passion for the talk I'm assigned to next month (so I didn't want to give up this month's talk).

I did, however, switch weeks for preschool because I was supposed to teach this week and it was our "Thanksgiving Party" week and I just...didn't feel like throwing a party. So my friend, who just happens to coordinate both the preschool schedule and the RS teaching schedule, said, "How about the Christmas party? That's the next party I'm in charge of. Do you want to do that one?"

But before I could say yes she said, "But that might still be too soon. So how about Valentine's Day. Yes. Let's do that! I'll take the Thanksgiving party and you can do Valentine's Day!"

And I didn't have the heart to tell her that Valentine's Day would be just as crummy of a holiday as Christmas since, well, Valentine's Day is Karen's birthday. But you know what? Things are what you make of them and Karen always made holidays great so I'm sure I can put together a little Valentine's Day party in her honour (though the preschoolers won't know it's in her honour).

Along those lines, today was Jacob and Shayla's anniversary (tomorrow is Katharine and Todd's) and when they were choosing a date they were having a hard time because Shayla kept feeling like whatever date they chose was too close to something: a holiday, a death anniversary, a birthday, other people's anniversaries (though then they got married the day before Katharine and Todd's anniversary so I guess they just thought there were too many December weddings? I dunno).

Anyway, I said something along the lines of, "Just pick a date and make good memories around it, regardless of whatever else has happened on or around that date because you can't control the future and something bad could happen on your anniversary."

I don't remember what I said exactly, but it was something like that.

So they spent their anniversary celebrating Karen's life, which isn't precisely a fun thing to do on one's anniversary and I thought it was rather ironic. To be fair, we've also spent our anniversary doing funeral things so it's not like my advice was coming out of nowhere—you really can't control when hard things are going to happen so just make the best of the good times while they last.

A mix of happy and sad events on any given day is sort

Oh, I also actually broke out our camera again—it's sat dormant for most of this week—so I should have some pictures to share soon!


  1. I thought of you yesterday around the time of Karen's funeral. It sounds like a sweet service. I like the milk-and-cookies idea, too!

  2. It sounds sad but lovely. Thinking about you a lot. I'd love to see the life sketch on her sometime if you have the time.

  3. Everyone picking I stand all amazed made literally laugh out loud.