Beauty and Purpose

Zinnias by Rift Vegan

Today,  I [re]opened a purple envelope filled with beautiful blooms photographed by Rift Vegan, one of my A Thousand Words pals on swap-bot. She sent the flowers a year ago for “Pink and Purple Awareness,” a swap organized to raise awareness and honor victims and survivors of breast cancer and domestic violence.

Here are her photos with her notes:

“Beauty Berry” by Rift Vegan

This lovely plant is actually native to your area, not mine! They plant all kinds of interesting things at the Rhododendron Garden at Hendricks Park–a favorite place to hike!

“Cosmos at the Community Garden” by Rift Vegan

“Rhododendron” by Rift Vegan

This photo was shot early October last year, so Rift wrote:

Prime time for the rhodys is April, but there are outliers that keep the garden in color all year round.

“Asters” by Rift Vegan

I love asters, but they tend to die when I plant them at my community garden plot. It’s been a few years though. It might be time to try again!

“Pretty” by Rift Vegan

I don’t know what this is, but it’s pretty!

As I read Rift’s notes and tidbits of information, I felt like I was taking a walk with her through the gardens. Along with the pictures, she enclosed a much longer note relating her “pink and purple” stories.

Having lost two sisters to breast cancer and a cousin and acquaintances to domestic violence, these issues are dear to my heart. Of course, the problems cannot be solved with flowers. The flowers are simply a beautiful way to honor their strength and remind us of hope.

Pink Is More Than a Color

Pink is not just a color. It’s an attitude.

Here we are at the end of October and I haven’t even checked off half the blog posts I’d plan to write this month.

But I cannot let the month end without acknowledging Breast Cancer Awareness Month and reminding readers to mind their breast health. Though my sisters, Karlette and Lori, eventually succumbed to breast cancer, they first detected the disease via self-examination. If you’re not in the habit of performing a monthly examination of your breast, begin today. Be sure to examine yourself monthly and schedule mammograms regularly; your doctor will help you determine what regularly means for you based on age, health, and medical history.

If you’re unsure of how to do a self examination, there are a number of resources available online. Some are simple and straightforward and some provide a bit more detail.

There are also many organizations that provide free or reduced cost mammograms for those who do not have health insurance or cannot afford the cost of mammograms.

Finally, if you or someone you know is coping with a breast cancer diagnosis, allow me the pleasure of sending a bit of cheer and light. Simply, click the Karle’s Wings link above and fill out the contact form near the bottom. I’ll be sure to send heart mail soon.


About the image: The image above features Ellie’s Belles, a gift from my dear friend Lauralee (LL).  LL, who works with organ and tissue donation, hosted a BRA Day event earlier this month in which the dolls were featured. She gave them to me when I visited DC earlier this month and spent a few hours with the family. The elegant dolls were created by artist Loren Martz. You can find these and many other dolls in her Etsy shop.  [Thank you, LL for the special gifts, and thank you, Browns, for making time for me. ❤ y’all!]

About the title: The title of today’s post was inspired by one of the art journal pages my photographer friend, Diane W., posted on Instagram earlier this week. “Pink is not just a color. It’s an attitude.” It’s an attitude  that I hope is sparked whenever we see the color pink, an uncompromising attitude that we will do what we can to manage our breast health and well-being and do all we can to support our sisters [and brothers] who have to deal with breast cancer.

“Breast Cancer Has No Face”

Today marks two years since my younger sister’s passing due to cancer.  It’s not easier, as some assured me it would be.  Every day I think about her. Every day I fight tears and nail-spitting anger.  Every day I remind myself that this life is not all, that I have a “hope burning in my heart” to be reunited with my sister and other loved ones some day.

Last weekend, I did a bit of organizing and finally emptied some boxes of “nonessentials” from our move two and a half years ago.  As I emptied a box, here and there, I stumbled across something connected to my sister: an essay she wrote and sent for my review before submitting; a recipe for a smoothie she shared because I don’t like eating breakfast; an old journal with the plans we made for the book we were going to write together about her experiences; a prayer written in tears, pleading for her healing.

I found wrapped in lots of tissue the extras of the beautiful sun catchers she made for a women’s group I coordinated.  She’d made a similar one for all of us sisters for Christmas one year and since I liked it so much, she volunteered to make some for the group.

There is always something in a box or in a book or even on my cellphone or saved to my hard drive…these beautiful reminders of her life on earth.

There’s this precious angel saved in a text message.

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She sent this to me the night after she read my blog post that championed her “fighting like a girl” against the cancer monster.  She made the angel for a bulletin board in her middle school classroom, probably for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  In the 10-25-12 text message she wrote, “My angel is missing her halo.” For me the missing halo has become a metaphor for Karlette as she walked this earth.  She was indeed an angel without a halo to many through her many selfless acts.

In her message she also wrote the title of this piece, “Breast Cancer Has No Face”–her socio-political statement about a disease that has no boundaries, no consideration for a person’s name, income, or status, and certainly no cure.

For me, its face is very real and it bears the eyes of my sister.