I promise

I miss my mom so badly.

Tonight I am watching So You think You Can Dance, and there is a dance about a woman that does not have a spine. She is unable to move without her partner. He is her arms and legs, moving her in the fluid motion of dance. And with his help, she is graceful and beautiful.

I’m not sure why that made me think of my mom. But it did. It made me think of those days at the end, when she could do nothing for herself. When she would want to walk, but couldn’t. My dad would rush to the bedroom to catch her before she fell. Or to pick her up once she had fallen. When she wanted to talk, but couldn’t make her voice work. Those days were not beautiful. Or at least I could not see the beauty in it then.

I see it now.

It’s the “for better or for worse” part of marriage.

my parents. 31 years ago.

When we get married and we say those vows, do we really picture going through the “worse” with our spouse? Do we know that what we are promising is to care and love and preserve dignity and faithfulness even when cancer has rendered the other unable to . . . to do . . . anything?

I never saw my parent’s marriage in that light before. My mom was always strong and tough and never the one to show weakness. I never saw my dad carry her. I never saw my dad feed her. Or brush her hair. Before then, I had never seen my mother turn to my dad and cry with all her heart, “I don’t want to leave you.”

In those moments, there were also glimpses of the “for better” promise.

I can do this because I love you.

I can do this because I gave you my word.

I can do this because you are apart of me.

I serve you because, in serving you, I am serving my heart.

Oh the pain. I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but . . . like a moan the word just comes out. Oh . . .

The ring on my finger represents so much. The ring on my finger is not just a diamond. It is a promise of my very life. To my dying breath I will love and serve you. To your dying breath I will love and serve you.

Were I the woman that I am now at my wedding, the service would have looked much different.

I would have walked barefoot as a symbol of my submission- not submission to an authority that wants to dominate. Submission as in trusting the one who holds my heart. I would have washed my beloved’s feet, as a symbol that I will serve him even when it’s not pretty. That I will forever put him before myself. My vows would have sounded so much more different.

Starting today, I give you all me. I will wake up every morning from now until forever and will love you. I will celebrate when your dreams come true. I will serve you enough to NOT let you walk away from your dreams even when my own heart is breaking. I will trust you even when I do not see what you see. I will give you my firsts. I will hold the pieces of your heart when you are betrayed. I will stand beside you when you are attacked and abandoned. I will forgive you. I will walk through that fire with you, whatever form it may take, and I will rip out the roots of fear because the spirit of the Living God is upon us, you and me, as we become one.

me and my man. august 16, 2003.

My seven year anniversary is approaching.

I plead with God to give me more than a lifetime with Nick Ristow.

And I plead with God, on my knees with groanings that cannot be uttered, that cancer NEVER touches my family again.

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9 thoughts on “I promise

  1. no words, my dear. i’m just so humbled by and thankful for who you are. you have been and continue to be such a tremendous blessing in my life. continuing to pray for you…

  2. Katie,
    What a beautiful picture you have painted of love. The kind that is lasting and hopeful. You have two of the best examples of love and even more important Gods love. Your parents always had a twinkle in their eyes for each other. When I read this the scripture that came to my mind was, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NKJV)

    And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

    Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

    We are so happy for you and your upcoming wedding anniversary. May God continue to bless all you two do~!
    Love always, Donna

  3. Thank you Katie! It has been a hard week and I miss your mom so much. I am finally able to grieve for her. The nurse part of me has intervened with my grieving until this week.

  4. Katie, I know your heart aches so. And it is so special that you can channel the pain and understanding you gain about life into words that can inspire us all. It is very selfless of you to be so open like this.

    Waking up to notification you’d written again was timely for me in that I dreamed last night I was in a small boat with Michaela. It was a beautiful day boating on some lake and we were smiling in the sun. A bald eagle came along very close and kept circling us so low. We were fascinated, and decided it was a gift from your mom. I had been thinking just yesterday when I am going to be able to coordinate with your family and get down there for a visit.

    Love.
    Cousin Gretchen

    1. Gretchen, I dream about her almost every night. Once I dreamt that she came to her funeral. I asked her if she liked it and she said, “It was okay. It was a little wierd, but I liked it.” Hahaha…. then two days ago I dreamt that I was at her work talking with her friends and she walked in the door. Everyone gasped and went silent. I ran to her and held her, and she held me and cried as if she had not seen me in a long time. Then I woke up. I know they’re just dreams . . . but they are the closest I can get to her now.

  5. Dear daughter

    I have come to the conclusion that missing mom is something that I just need to get used to, and I guess that isn’t so bad. I could have never known her, and that is not a thought or option that I would want to explore. So, we will all keep missing her, and her influence will continue to cause an amazing daughter to have amazing insight influence many others to live a life filled with true unconditional love. I’m so proud of you baby, and thank you for your writing!

  6. Katie,
    I’ve only “known” you through your Examiner articles and when I saw the one about baptism that mentioned your blog I went searching and found this. First I am just so sorry for the loss of your mom. Grief is such a hard and sometimes lonely road, but you have shown that you already know how to walk it.

    And secondly I have said it before and I will repeat it because I hope that it gives you some hope– your writing has such power to reach other people! Your gentle voice and obvious kindness shines right through.

    In 1998 my son died. I know a lot about grief. If I can ever be a friendly ear, please e-mail me anytime. sunriver@gmail.com

    Be well, Katie!

    1. Thank you for your words Vanessa. God has been so good and has brought so much “greatness” into the past few weeks of my life that I feel almost “carried” through this time. As my heart hurts, God provides me with new experiences with my family to fill in the bad memories with good ones. I pray that God will continually fill your heart as well.

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