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A Beautiful Difference

That Dreaded Day

Some events stay imprinted in your mind forever, and this was one of those days. I was in Florida when I got the call that Karen had a seizure. She hadn't been feeling well lately, and I was teasing her over text just the day before because she kept forgetting little things. Then a friend of ours said, "It's a brain tumor.” At that moment the palm trees stopped swaying, everything froze, and all I could think was please, please God, tell me this isn't really happening.

The Next 16 Months

In the days, weeks, and months that followed, I watched her family, friends, and our town stop in their tracks to support Karen, Dave, and their four boys. Hundreds of meals, kind gestures, care packages, visits, and prayers were offered; sometimes from people they barely knew.

That following Spring many baseball teams honored her strength by wearing a #SheIsFierce decal on their helmets. A large group of her family and friends, including Karen, participated in a 5K for brain cancer - raising money and awareness. It seemed everyone she knew found their own special way to show their love and support for her at her most trying time.

Karen and those closest to her were genuinely grateful for all of it. The outpouring of love continued daily for 16 months. Over countless lunch visits, she told me that she was blown away by the love, that she couldn't wait to return the favor and give back to others. At the time it broke my heart thinking she might not get the chance to do that, but writing this now, I see so clearly that she had been giving back long before I met her. In her time of need others were simply returning the love and light she had brought to people her whole life.

The Final Week

One day in early February, I went to Karen’s house to help decorate for the Super Bowl. Staff members from the boys’ school had collected items to surprise them with an Eagles Super Bowl Party. She smiled at all of the fanfare before she drifted off to sleep in the chair I’d seen her sit in so many times since her diagnosis.

Sadly, I knew that would be my last memory of her. The last day I would see my friend alive. The next several days were a blur. Her parents went through the unthinkable, her husband and siblings grieved immensely as they processed losing one of their own, and her young sons had to grow up too fast saying goodbye to their mom. The air in the whole town was heavy as we waited, cried, prayed, and spent time together. The week ended with the longest funeral line I had ever seen.

The Last Five Years

Karen's legacy is still felt by so many of us every day. Memorials to her fill our daily lives - a bench dedicated by the local Little League, an engraved stone at the elementary school, and this Foundation started in her memory to bring comfort and aid to others fighting similar battles.

Those who loved her are forever linked by her presence and memory. Her stone at the elementary school reads, “What a beautiful difference one single life made,” and all of us who were lucky enough to have met her know this could not be more true.

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