Tuesday, July 1, 2014

To Love a Person

Part of our wonderful 10 days in Iowa included an annual camping weekend with some dear friends. We have been getting together for one weekend of the summer for the past 6 years. It reminds me of my beloved summer camp I attended as a child, counseled at as a teenager, and directed in my early 20's. A week I looked forward to all year, and while I was in it always went by too fast.

I adore these ladies and their families. For some I only see them once a year...this weekend. Not nearly enough, but it will have to do being 1500 miles away. The weekend always goes by so fast...making memories that help me get from one year to the next.

This year was different because honestly everything is different. Even when things are the same, they are different. 

I was nervous about the weekend. I'm nervous about everything now. I don't know what I am nervous about. Maybe it's the first time I see someone after I've told them about Lily. Maybe it's a fear they will ask questions. Maybe it's a fear they won't

I know people don't know what to say because truthfully there are no words. No real words of comfort, not enough in "I'm sorry", so I get that people have a hard time saying anything. The best thing anyone has said to me came from my friend Jeff this weekend. He simply said, "I don't know what to say to you, but I want you to know I don't know what to say." It takes courage to say anything and it meant everything that he acknowledged Lily in this way.

There are moments I just want to feel normal again. I knew that seeing my dear friends was going to be tough, but I knew they would be exactly what I needed them to be this weekend. 

As always, we laughed together. We told silly stories, made tie-dyed t-shirts, looked on in amazement at all the little people we created playing together. They were exactly what I needed them to be.

We also cried together. We held each other close and they all listened as I talked about Lily. My sweet, sweet girls gave me a beautiful gift that I will cherish forever. A beautiful necklace to always remind us of Lily. Lily flowers (of course), a pearl for her purity and beauty, an opal for October, and a sweet little "L". 

I know it will be something that people will see and they will ask about it and it will be my opportunity to share Lily with anyone who asks. 

Six years we have gathered, each year a little sweeter than the one before. John and Mandy graciously open up their hearts and their home to us every year. And here, this year, they thanked us. Thanked us for making the effort. Thanked us for making their summer so special. If they only really knew what it means to me to go there every year. If they only knew how much I need that weekend every year, but especially this one. John shared this (below) with us about what it means to love a person and a place. I do believe the only thing that makes the place so special are the people that surround it. As he read, it seemed as though he was reading my inner most thoughts from the depths of my soul.

People may wonder or even ask why Jason and I are choosing life for Lily knowing what pain and heartache lies ahead. My feelings for Lily are the same as my feelings for Ted and, God-willing, any other future children. This pretty much sums up how I feel about this sweet little soul I have the honor of mothering:

The Pine Island Paradox
Author Kathleen Dean Moore

I stretched my back and started two lists.

What does it mean to love a person? What does it mean to love a place?

Before long, I discovered I had made two copies of the same list.
To love - a person and a place - means at least this:

One. To want to be near it, physically.
Number two. To want to know everything about it - its story, its moods, what it looks like by moonlight.
Number three. To rejoice in the fact of it.
Number four. To fear its loss, and grieve for its inquiries.
Five. To protect it - fiercely, mindlessly, futilely, and maybe tragically, but to be helpless to do otherwise.
Six. To be transformed in its presence - lifted, lighter on your feet, transparent, open to everything beautiful and new.
Number seven. To want to be joined with it, taken in by it, lost in it.
Number eight. To want the best for it.
Number nine. Desperately.

Love is an anchor line, a rope on a pulley, a taut fly line, a spruce root, a father teaching his daughter to tie a bowline knot, eelgrass bent to the tide, and all of these - a complicated, changing web of relationships, taken together. It’s not a chance, or a dream, or a romantic novel. It’s a fact: an empirical fact about our biological existence. We are born in relationships with people and with places. We are born with the ability to create new relationships and tend to them. And we are born with a powerful longing for this relation. That complex interconnectedness nourishes and shapes us and gives us joy and purpose.

I knew there was something missing something important from my list, but I was struggling to put it into words.  Loving isn’t just a state of being, it’s a way of acting in the world. Love isn’t a sort of bliss, it’s a kind of work, sometimes hard, spirit-testing work. To love a person is to accept the responsibility to act lovingly toward him, to make his needs my own needs. To love a place is to care for it, to keep it healthy, to attend to its needs as if they were my own. Responsibility grows from love. It’s the natural shape of caring.
Number ten, I wrote in my notebook. To love a person is to accept moral responsibility for its well-being.


  1. I love you and your growing family Kellie and I feel honored that you come all that way every year to spend Anamosa with everyone. It is my favorite weekend of the year.

  2. Kellie, this is SO Beautiful. What a list, what a way to put it, what courage! You are an amazing lady. Looking forward to hopefully seeing this weekend ;)