HOW OUR BLOG BEGAN, in AUGUST 2010: As many of you know, Phil has been struggling with a very complex series of neurological issues for about 5 years. This past spring, the issues became especially intense as a result of an unexpected cognitive decline and a fall on May 15th that resulted in a head injury and further decline. And then, on July 16th things catapulted to unbelievable, as Phil suffered from a severe "electrical storm" in his brain that essentially created a status of brain death for two full days. Inexplicably, the very morning that neurologists and other medical team members were planning removal of life support, Phil began breathing on his own and his brain waves returned to a stable, while still abnormal, level. Since then, each day has been a unique journey. And while he and his body continue to demonstrate a will and capacity to live, he continues to have severe deficits and it is quite uncertain as to the path he will take. As loved ones close in can attest to, it has been tricky to keep up emotionally with all of his changes, and provide the needed support. We can only imagine the hard work Phil has gone through as his brain has taken him through such roller coaster experiences. It is our goal here to keep family and close friends apprised of Phil's ongoing story, and to build connections that honor him.

AND THEN, SEPTEMBER 11, 2010....Dad's remarkable journey alongside us culminated in a gentle, generous death.

And so, my goal here now as his daughter is simply this: to record snippets...pieces of his life that my memory offers back to me, pieces of myself as I learn to live without a dad. I hope all who meander by find life, and hope, and peace.

Monday, September 13, 2010

an age old habit i think i'll adopt

tonight i was visiting auntie gail's blog, encouraged by the love her people are pouring out to her as she suffers the loss of her oldest brother's passing.

i saunter over to her post about seth godin ("my two cents: why seth godin shouldn't quit", august 26).  one of my favorite authors as well, i am drawn into the lively conversation she and her readers are having about the value of traditional books.  a passionate reader, and holder, of physical books, this new awareness -- that seth may indeed be saying goodbye to published works -- would normally send me into a flurry of research to discover just exactly what the guy is up to.  but tonight i find myself only loosely intrigued.  this i attribute to the day's rather dulled emotional state (at 11:45 pm tonight, sister cheryl notes we've achieved "the 24 hour landmark").  a vague interest, that is, until a reader about 18 comments deep grabs me and holds on tight: 

wow, annie binns. in six simple sentences i am transported again to dad's bedside last night. the closing of my dad's eyes when his life here is no more, the holding of my face tight against his chest, the closing of my own eyes as my tears escape. i breathe in the very last of him, i take in his breath that wooshes out as he closes out this life and enters into the next.
I could never give up the tangible, bound book. I, too, highlight Seth’s and a few others’ books with yellow and blue and even stick Post-It tabs on their pages. But the part I really can’t give up is an age old habit when I finish a good book. I close the pages and hold it tight next to my chest like I’m giving it a hug. I don’t know why I have always done that. I close my eyes while it’s right there and try to breathe in the very last words of wisdom that woosh out of it as it closes.

perhaps the closing of a good book, with all its wisdom tucked within, is quite like the closing of a good life.  gratitude for all that was given, and sorrow to have arrived at the end.  the urge to re-read the highlights, to experience again the highs and lows of the story as it captures us and teaches us a little, or a lot, about life.

dad, my life feels heavy without you here with us.

thank you, loved ones, for all you have given, and will continue to give, to us. 
xoxo k.


  1. I love the comparison of a good book with a great life. Both contain stories that have moved us. I am especially moved by your post, Karen. I hope you see you shortly. Blessings.

  2. Have you read A Million Miles in A Thousand Years by Donald Miller? It's a fabulous book that compares our life to a story. (I won't give it away, but trust me it's EXCELLENT) It starts a little slowly then picks up speed as it goes on (sort of like a dinner conversation w/ someone you've just met) so read it all the way to the end.

    Anyway, comparing Phil's life to a good book is appropriate. He lived a great story with lots of ups and downs, twists and turns. When you read Don's book, you'll understand even more.

    I'll try to remember to stick a copy in my suitcase when I come see you.

    Lots of hugs,
    Auntie Gail

  3. Thinking about upcoming services forced me to put down some thoughts, and I'm glad I did.

  4. Daniel....

    Thanks so much for your thoughts!!! They were wonderful to read and brought me to shameless tears in the middle of Starbucks this afternoon. Love you, brother!!

  5. Daniel, these words honor dad in the best of ways and i can't wait to hear you speak them at the service.


    Gail and Mike,
    nothing beats a book that comes highly recommended! i thought of you guys as i was at the bookstore yesterday. i think i found one to swap you for donald miller's. it's by allison hoover bartlett, The Man Who Loved Books Too Much. here's a snippet:

    "as i accumulated information about the thief, the dealer, and the rare book trade, i came to see that this story is not only about a collection of crimes but also about people's intimate and complex and sometimes dangerous relationship to books..."

    btw, i'm quite sure she's referring to the physical variety.

    can't wait to see you both!!!!

    xoxo k.

  6. FROM MY SISTER'S SISTER-IN-LAW DARCY, via FACEBOOK: Hey My Dear Karen, I hope you know how much we love you! All of you!!!! Do a group hug from all of us in Edmonton.

    Me to Darcy: thank you for all your love and support. you are a precious part of the feel i've had the privilege to do a bit of adopting. gotta love darren's sphere of influence!!! hope to see you soon. xoox k.

    FROM MARIAH, ARCADIA THERAPIST: I send my love and best wishes to you and your family. please let me know if you need anything.