The Celebration Continues (Pt. 3)

If you’re wondering why we’re starting at Pt. 3… we’re not. Please go back and read part 1 and part 2 and you’ll be all up to speed.

After Jack’s beautiful words, Chris introduced Jo Enders, who is family even though maybe in the strictest of technical definitions she isn’t. I’ll let her explain in the amazing speech she gave at the Celebration of Life for Karyn:

I’ve been lucky enough to know Karyn and Todd for almost 20 years…which makes my heart warm to think about, but also makes me feel really, really old! Anyway, my husband Steve and I were introduced to Karyn and Todd through my sister Kate and brother-in-law Chris. Shortly after we all met, we quickly became close friends. Our men shared a passion for making and listening to music and us dutiful ladies kept each other entertained through many a long reggae, punk or metal concert in smoke and sweat filled music halls (in truth, we enjoyed some of the music too!). Since meeting, we’ve been bridesmaids, and groomsmen for each other, developed a possibly questionable tolerance for wine, toasted many a vegan s’more around campfires, celebrated each others new homes, new babies and new jobs and generally made awesome memories together. Steve and I refer to Todd and Karyn as our sister and brother-in-law-once-removed and our kids proudly refer to the Wilders their as Aunt, Uncle and cousins.

When Steve and I try to help our three young kids process the loss of Auntie Karyn, we talk about how she may be physically gone, but her spirit remains inside each of us that know and love her. So today I’d like to share how Karyn’s spirit remains in me through the things that I’ll always remember about her.

First, as a Mom now myself, I have to start with what an incredibly good Mom Karyn was. She was the first of us Wilder, Emmett, Enders women to become a Mom. And boy did it come naturally to her! At the time, Steve and I were getting close to considering the idea of having a child at some point, one day, down the road, after we’ve traveled the world a bit more! When beautiful Lucia was born, Karyn showed me how intense and beautiful that Mother/child bond is. I remember evenings hanging out at our tiny first home – a townhouse in Mountain View. Karyn, Todd and baby Lucia arriving, Karyn with Lucia strapped cozily on Karyn in a cool looking baby-hammock type of thing. Karyn cuddled that girl all night…we’d get the occasional baby cuddle (after all, we needed to test out this whole parenting thing!), but Karyn was clearly in her element with her gorgeous baby in her arms.

After equally beautiful baby Beckett arrived, Karyn was back in cuddly mama-bear mode and those around her would find ways to distract her so we could enjoy a bit of baby Beckett cuddling too. As the kids have grown, I’m constantly in awe of what amazing parents Karyn and Todd are. Together, they seemed to me like the dynamic duo of parents – all those great parenting styles like being consistent, setting expectations and giving kids the freedom to demonstrate good choices…all the things I read about in parenting books but struggle to do myself, just came naturally to Karyn and Todd. Karyn was a great teacher for me in how to raise kind, considerate, resilient, confident and independent kids – and Lucia and Beckett are truly a testament to that.

Second, and somewhat tied to the first is that Karyn was always, always prepared (another reason she was a great mom). I could site countless examples, how she was at the ready to lend a hand and keep me calm on my wedding day, to her Sunset magazine worthy preparations for our camping trips and more recently when our son Nathan broke his arm after deciding to take a jump on Beckett’s bike. Karyn ran to her car and emerged with an ice pack from her first aid kit. I remember thinking on the way to the hospital…how is it that after nine years of parenting, I don’t have a first aid kit in the car?? Do all parents except me?? My guess is the answer is no, but it makes total sense that Karyn did – thank you Karyn for always being prepared when I wasn’t!

One of the things I think we all loved about Karyn was her wickedly dry sense of humor. I guess because Karyn was a bit of a self-described introvert, she wasn’t generally one of those super chatty, sharey types. And so this edgy humor was one of those things that I don’t think you knew about unless you were part of Karyn’s inner circle. Even then, I remember times when she’d catch me off guard at some social situation when she would lean in close with that cheeky spark in her eye and mutter some comment or other that would send us into a fit of naughty giggles.

Another delightful surprise about Karyn was that she had so many hidden talents. Karyn’s talent as a writer was clearly revealed after she started her blog – EveryDayLeft. Karyn never really talked to me about her love of writing, but she clearly was gifted in this area. But she also was a skilled closet crafter. Often times, I didn’t learn about her skills in felting, knitting or jewelry making until I’d receive a beautiful hand-made something or other as a gift. She inspired me to try to make more time for my own crafts.

-I’ll close by saying that Karyn also inspired me in another very important way. When Karyn decided to take some time off work to spend more time with the kids. It was during a time when I was getting increasingly burnt out myself with the high-tech work-grind and questioning the stress it put on, and the time it took from our family time. When she told me she was going to quit her job, I thought “Wow, that’s awesome, good for you…hopefully at some point I can do that…”. Too soon after that Karyn was diagnosed with brain cancer and that was the devastating kick in the butt that I needed to re-prioritize what was most important to me – make the most of what time I have here because you truly never know how long it is. So six months later, I said goodbye to my stressful full time job and for almost three years now, I’ve enjoyed more time with our kids and focusing more on what’s truly important. I’ll be eternally grateful to Karyn for giving me that kick in the butt that I so needed.

So with that, I’d like to say thank you Karyn – your spirit lives on in me, and all of us. Let’s all do our best to make the most of every minute of our lives – doing what feeds our souls – whatever that may be.

7 thoughts on “The Celebration Continues (Pt. 3)

  1. Thank you, Jo, for sharing so much of who Karyn was and how we all will remember her. It was as special to read today as when you spoke at her celebration. ❤️

  2. I did not know Karyn personally, it was only through Chris that I learned about her heroic journey. I am on the Board of the VMC Foundation and Chris emailed us concerning the participation in the Brain Cancer Walk, by either joining the Walk, or donating. Since I am a certified Vampire, the thought of a Walk in the wee hours of the morning made it was an easy choice for me — I chose the donation route.

    Chris also mentioned Kayrn’s Blog, which I started, unfortunately, past the end of her journey. I was so intrigued by those later entries, I went from “end” to “beginning” and I came away with the thought – “there is a wonderful book in here”. This could be the human face and the real story of what it is to live with and die of Brain Cancer.

    Actually, starting at the “end” and going to the “beginning” gives the real impact of the highs and lows of this terrible disease.

    It’s just a thought, but I hope that Todd will consider making it happen. What a wonderful legacy it would be for Karyn.

    Needless to say, I will continue to continue reading this wonderful Blog.

    • I have thought the exact same thing Elaine. I think Karyn and Todd’s writing could really help so many folks impacted by, or treating those battling brain cancer.

  3. Pingback: The Celebration Continues (Pt. 4) | everydayleft

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