Memorial Mass Letters: Karen’s Letter Printed in our Program August 17, 2001
Dear Family and Friends,
As Tom and I pondered the many facets of death we would have to discuss with our children, we realized the act of dying itself was only the beginning, and we felt the strain of trying to do this “right.” We discussed and planned this Memorial Mass with the expertise of those we love and rely on and then we experienced some relief.
But we realized the lingering question, and the one that could have quite an impact still remained. Just what would we do with my remains? We saw this as our one last chance to truly teach the children a valuable lesson.
On one glorious vacation, we exalted as a family in the beauty of the sea and the sky of the Cayman Islands. The kids said it was perfect, like heaven on earth. It was so easy to be happy there, to realize that life is good.
As I fought this disease with hope and determination, our family plan was to return to the Caymans to celebrate when treatment was over and I was healed.
Treatment is over now, and I will be healed. Even though it is not the ending any of us wanted, and I hate the thought that my children must experience loss at such young ages, I say to you all again that life is good. Even this night, as you remember me.
My life has been great and that is the lesson I leave my children and my friends. Waking up each day, it’s up to us to find the good and the joyful, even when it is not easy to be happy. Tommy says it may not come right up to our doorstep, but we can find the goodness if we look.
My body will be cremated. Soon, Tom and the children will travel back to the Caymans and I will go with them. I have asked them to place my ashes in the crystalline sea at sunset. The wind and the water, signs of life and the Spirit, might even carry me eventually back to Amelia, but my spirit will most certainly be in heaven.
Life is good.
Memorial Mass Letters: Karen’s Letter Read before Mass August 28, 2001
Dearest Tom, Katie, Christy, Tommy, Kelly, Family and Friends,
We’ve come through a long journey together, and I guess in this letter, I’d like to take the chance to set the tone for tonight. . . and for many tomorrows.
I’ll start by speaking to all my young friends, beginning with my four angels.
Katie, don’t make school too serious and definitely don’t let it stress you out! I want to see you laughing and having lots of fun. I think those A’s will just come naturally!
Christy, you’ll actually have homework this year…so get ready to make it your best ever! Don’t spend the day chatting with Katie M.! Listen. . . then laugh!
Tommy, just like last year…be the O Man. Go get ’em in the classroom and on the basketball court! I’ll be in the stands in the best seats, cheering you on.
Kelly, you have fun in third grade and make lots of new friends. I’ll be watching. I bet the rest of those baby teeth will fall out this year!
As for the rest of my young friends, especially you five who honored me by asking me to be your Confirmation sponsor, do your best in school, too. Life has so much to offer and the more you learn, the more options and chances you have. Knowledge is awesome. Think about it. When you go somewhere new for the first time, it can be an intimidating experience. But if you step out, and learn and explore where you find yourself, new worlds become yours. Our favorite place to go is Cayman Island-that’s our little piece of heaven on earth and soon I’ll be there in spirit while the rest of my family is swimming with stingrays, snorkeling with barracudas (Kelly, you stay close to Dad’s side!) and watching the most beautiful sunsets. Never stop learning, guys—doing well in school will lead you to your own piece of heaven on earth, too.
As for my dear sisters, Tom’s sisters, and my brother, Pete, I can’t imagine another family who could have more lovingly stepped in to help me as you did. I know your love will continue to surround Tom and my children. Thank you for that comfort. Mom and Dad C., you too have stepped in whenever we needed you and I know you’ll continue to be there. You’re awesome parents to me. And Mom, I’ve said this for years and I hope you’ll believe it tonight. The strength I have came from you because of your unconditional love. You and Dad showered me with so many compliments and praise, that I felt I could do anything. Thank you for that. You’re the best.
Now I need to address the softball guys, our neighbors, and especially our Xavier crowd. Many of you have known my husband for as long as I have, and I’m sure you would agree that he has just a little, tiny stubborn streak. I’m counting on you all to drag him out of the house to the softball field, to the deck, and to watch our Muskies. Make him laugh, just like we’ve laughed for years. His sense of humor is so much a part of him; I think he’d stop breathing without laughter. Let him make his corny wisecracks to you so he doesn’t get grumpy at work! You are all the best friends we could ever have, and this is the most important request I make. Tom has made my life a fairy tale for the last 17 years. Please take care of him for me.
\Finally, I guess I could say that our lives have been rather difficult for the last 14 months. But you know what? I still think of life as a great and beautiful blessing. The emotional pain of this journey has always been harder to bear than the physical pain, but that’s part of life, too, and together, with love, now I know we can work through anything. I want you all to believe that, too.
Choose to be happy. Look for the good. Surround yourself with those you love-and smile. Tonight is your first chance to try this out as we begin this celebration of life and love. Tonight is a celebration.
I had a great life. I was surrounded by love from my first breath to my last. I had all I ever wanted in my children and my family. Add in the dearest relatives, the sweetest friends like the Vassilious, and the beauty and the blessings go on and on beyond us all.
So begin the celebration—and Kelly, you were right! I’m pretty excited to see Papaw, so I’m going off to visit with him while you’re having your party there.
My love will always be with you.
Memorial Mass Letters: A letter from the Mersman Family
An Open Letter to Karen from the Mersman Family
It has only been a week, but we really miss you. We miss your smile, the laughter we shared, and the energy you put into everything you did.
We have asked ourselves thousands of times, “Why you?” “Why now?” The only answer we can come up with is the strength, courage, and love, you, Tom and the kids have displayed in the last year and a half has made us, your family and friends, better people. The friendship we have shared over the years with your family is truly a treasured gift.
So now as we face our daily lives without you, we will try to practice the example you have set for us. I am sure we will give you ample opportunity to offer guidance and we will ask for it often. It is nice having an angel in heaven to call upon, and Karen you are truly an angel.
Give us the beautiful sunsets, and the stars shining brightly. We will be in touch.
Mark, Ginny, Mike and Katie