The glorious spirit of Kirsten Andersen lives on in her blog, her incredible writing, her students, her family and her husband, Ian. I am so grateful to call Ian my friend. Kirsten’s honesty and humor about her journey through cancer leaves me breathless and empowered.
Personally, I am fascinated by the journey family takes after our loved one dies. Where do we go from here? How do we grieve? And how do we carry that legacy forward?
Everyone wanted me to get help and rejoin life, pick up the pieces and move on, and I tried to, I wanted to, but I just had to lie in the mud with my arms wrapped around myself, eyes closed, grieving, until I didn’t have to anymore. – Anne Lamott
The impact of a human being… incredible.
From “The Day Was” by Kirsten Andersen
Flooding the valley
between flesh and bone
evicting the good, the healthy, the strong
leaving the wreckage in its place
of that bad blood-
Kirsten’s blog entry October 22, 2006:
… Always by my side, of course, has been Ian. He will probably be horribly embarrassed by this public declaration of my gratitude and affection. However, today is his birthday (Sunday), and since I can’t really be the retail phenom I usually am, I wanted to express my love and admiration in words. I hope I can convey a fraction of my appreciation to him. He is more than I could have ever asked for, now and always.
He has laughed with me, made me laugh and caused me to laugh under incredibly inappropriate circumstances. He has held me when I have cried, has cried with me and has wiped my tears as they fell from my cheeks. He has held my hand and held my barf tray.
He has wiped my nose, lint-rollered my noggin and told me I was beautiful even when I said my head looked like a testicle. He has kept track of my appointments, made me take my pills and returned my friends’ and family’s phone calls (most of the time) when I wasn’t able. He has carried me when I could not put one foot in front of the other. He has given me strength when I felt I had none – he has fought with me and for me…
Kirsten facilitated healing writing groups at the Callanish Society:
Kirsten’s button (LOVE IT):
As of Friday August 26, 2011, Kirsten’s husband, Ian Powell, started his own blog where he shares his extraordinary love of Kirsten, his unbearable pain of losing her, and simply how he lives now with grief, and how he struggles to find a “new normal.”
As someone who has lost loved ones and friends to cancer and to suicide, I am grateful to be able to read about Ian’s grieving process because he GETS IT. There is camaraderie and understanding that strangely comforts me. It’s not easy to grieve, but there it is. And we are still here. So is the love of those we lost. That love is truly immortal.
Look up Hans Fallada “The Drinker” and “Everyman Dies Alone”
Anna is almost done. Time for Whole Foods and an opening tonight.
There is a lady sleeping in the lounge chair beside me. Obviously recovering from her cancer treatment. Recall the delicate beauty of mom as she took such care to dress beautifully and do makeup right up until after her last Thanksgiving. Then she let go and so did we. I still have her hair curlers/comb/purse/cell phone etc. What does it all mean?
We walked home then out to Sushi Rocks (after visiting Leftovers and buying a horn). Great dinner. Then Whole Foods (after running into Anna’s co-worker Ashley). Grocery shopping then just got back. Talked to Morf (who had gotten a funny phonecall from us by accident as we were hugging in the airport!) (now going to The Social Network).
It’s almost been 2 years since mom passed away. I have never really written about those last moments. For they were not “last.” But all of a sudden– Mom’s powerful presence in our life changed. I felt her breathe out. Her heart slowed and stopped. I was there with my head on her chest. And we surrounded her with love and support and her spirit infused us. It is actually impossible to grasp. How does life continue after that? And is it OK to actually feel free and perhaps free-er? Heart
I miss just talking to Mom. Just about the kids and laundry and food and life. I miss the chatter and the camaraderie and the “I get it” and the simple stuff. We could talk about kids.
I miss my own childhood. The safety + fun or being the kid.
I promised myself I would start this journal at the aiport on my way to visit Anna. It will be a place to process grief. A place to address loss and allow myself to sit with it and move forward. The key is to stay free.
My theme: “and then there was none.”
Met Anna at the airport!
Took BART to Westfield mall. Walked to Anna’s apartment. Changed. Ate at a cute little place [Farm Table]. Now Anna is at work and I spent $ on myself on clothes. Typical me stuff.
Feeling anxious as I already miss Anna even tho I’m here.
It’s over and I miss their childhood, my mom, my innocence. I do not miss my marriage. Is that bad?
A year ago she left the nest and Julian is growing and working. Wow. “And then there was none.” I must take time to grieve and celebrate my new role as mom.