West Side Stories

A Tosa resident for almost 20 years, Karen is a mom and freelance writer, addicted to playing tennis. When not on the tennis court, she spends the fall and winter in the stands at Green Bay Packer and Marquette basketball games.

Karen is the author of “Grab a Bite,” a dining out column and the former community columnist for the Wauwatosa NOW newspaper.

Thankfulness for a special love

Kids, Parenting, Personal

Sunday, November 18th is the 26th anniversary of my motherhood. On that day, our beautiful son, Andrew, came into the world. He burst into our lives and forever changed us. So many of you know this story, but Andrew was born severely developmentally disabled. As unexpected as Andrew's dire diagnosis was (my pregnancy was unremarkable - his brain injury occurred at birth), so was the imprint that his life would leave on our hearts, our minds, our other children and our family and friends.

The other day, I found myself telling Andrew's story to someone else. (If you don't know the story, you can read it here or here.) Just when I thought everyone knew about our very special son, I was sharing that journey with someone new.

When I tell the story of Andrew, it's sort of an out-of-body experience. How is that possible that our family dealt with such an unimaginable challenge? People often give us far more credit than we deserve. When Andrew was born, friends and family carried us in their hearts and filled us with so much support that what I remember from those first few days was simply the glow of unconditional love. Certainly I had never been through something so traumatic, but I've also never felt embraced in such a way. How could such joy come from so much pain? 

Andrew passed away 5-1/2 years ago, but his life is, forever, a testament to hope born of tragedy. Time and again, throughout his life, we met people who loved and cared for this fragile little person who could never return their affection. The love that Andrew was given, was returned to us, 100-fold. To this day, that love glows on in my heart.

In remembering Andrew, I share with you one of my very favorite poems of all time. God bless everyone and be thankful for those around you who share their love with you.

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

By E. E. Cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

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