Thursday, February 6, 2020

The Suitcase

I've promised you my story. Here it begins. 
My first recollection is of my mom and I having a tea party on our sunporch. That precious memory is one of the best but ultimately that sunporch would the setting for one of my worst. 

My mom had six children in less than 10 years. She had me and my five brothers. When my youngest brother was born in 1963, she didn't bounce back to health like she had done with the rest of us. 
One test led to another and ultimately she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. 
I was four years old. My parents made the decision to keep us in the dark about her illness. 
Children are smart, however, and we knew something was horribly wrong. 
An undercurrent of fear wove it's way in and our of our household. 

Mom was a fighter and she fought for seven years. At some point she was in remission and the fear receded but the damage was already done. 
The cancer returned and my mom went into the hospital before Christmas of 1969. 
There was no in home end of life care back in those days. 
The little sunporch became my dad's office. I loved going into that room to get art supplies.
It was clad in brown beadboard or paneling of some sort. It was cozy and it felt safe.
On a cold February day, I went into the room. As I turned to leave, I happened to see my mom's suitcase. My heart immediately went up to my throat in fear and panic. 
I knew instinctively that my mother was dead. 

I tried to rationalize the fear away. I made excuses to myself about why her suitcase would be at home. "Maybe dad was getting her more clothes." is what I said to myself. Thoughts stirred around and around in my head as I tried to make sense of what I was seeing. 
The fear was stuffed away and I went about my afternoon. 
That night while we were eating left over birthday cake, my dad and grandmother told us that mom had died. 
I can only remember the crying. Other siblings remember the cake left on their plate. 
The fear, we had tried to pack away like outfits in a suitcase, became a reality. 
That white Samsonite suitcase was a source of revulsion after that. 
I hated that suitcase. 
My mom was gone. Our lives would never be the same. 
The suitcase was given away or sold but the fear born out of my parent's good intentions was a burden to be carried for decades. 
I picked it up and carried it around every time fear rose up in my throat to choke me. 

I haven't really shared much of my story on my blog.  
I've tried to type the words many times but they just wouldn't come. 
My story is one of fear but it's also one of redemption and healing.  
I don't know how often these little chapters will come but when they do, I will share them with you. 

"Have I not commanded you?" Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9 


  1. Oh Katie, such a life altering time. I'm so sorry that you had to go through that when you were so young. xoxo

  2. Your Mom has been walking beside you all these years

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Sometimes we see the perfect homes and beautiful faces and forget that we all have our fears and anxieties. I've been struggling with my own and when I read your story and Joshua 1:9 it was a sign to me that God is indeed with me. Just what I needed. His perfect timing! Also, I love your blog and your sense of humor! Thanks again for sharing your life with us.

  4. Katie, what a sad time for a little girl to go through. I am sorry for your loss and as parents ourselves now, we tend to understand better why our parents did what they did and know that their intentions were always good. When you feel like continuing on with your story we will all be here to listen. Talking it out does help in my experience..Have a good weekend..xxoJudy

  5. Oh bless your heart and your siblings !! This is SAd for sure and i hate to hear any child has their mother die so early in life.
    I hope you all stuck together and lived as happy as you could after that, all together in one home. From my own life experiences men don't survive as good as women do after they loose their spouses, hopefully your dad did

    Peace be with yoy dear

  6. Oh Katie, thank you for sharing your story of you and your little girl fears and the memories that you’ve carried around in that suitcase. I’m sure your mom is your angel, as well as your step mom. God bless you, dear one.

  7. So sorry Katie, thank you for sharing with us.