Pink Orchids and Karle’s Wings

“March 11.”

“Pink orchids.”

These words played over and over in my mind as I awakened from my slumber this morning.  Today marks four years since we lost Karlette, my younger sister, to breast cancer.  And pink orchids were her favorite flowers.

I’ve been fighting with a photo of pink orchids I shot at the New Orleans Botanical Gardens in January. I want it to commemorate her life. I want it to be beautiful.  I want it to represent her.  I want it to be perfect. It’s far from perfect, but it’s what I have until I get back to New Orleans and capture them again.

Pink Orchid, New Orleans Botanical Gardens

I realize my fretting over the orchids has a lot to do with my trying to cope with March 11, a date that gives me anxiety, although I think about my sister every.single.day.

Before her death, Karlette and I had plans to write the stories of her brutal battles with breast cancer and what we’d hoped would be her victory.  I have the pictures, but without her voice,  I know it will not be the story she wanted told.

Some aspect of her story will be shared eventually, but for now, I’ve decided to honor her memory in another way.

Recently, I had the privilege of writing postcards to breast cancer patients with whom my only acquaintance is that someone they know is in one of the same Facebook groups to which I belong.   I prayed and used my sister’s experience to guide me as I wrote.  I thought about what she would say and how she would encourage women.  It dawned on me that sometimes a small thing such as a postcard or note goes a long way to cheer someone who is struggling with this disease, and honoring Karlette does not require a monumental gesture.

So today, instead of suffering silently this awful loss, I’m reclaiming March 11.  Today, I am launching Karle’s Wings, a postcard ministry aimed at sharing with breast cancer sufferers and survivors beauty, light, and joy–characteristics Karlette embodied.

If you or someone you know would benefit from a postcard from Karle’s Wings, please complete the contact form below. The  information will remain private and will not be shared with anyone beyond the purpose of addressing a postcard, note, or letter. Within days of receiving the request, you, your family member or friend will receive a handwritten, personalized postcard from Karle’s Wings.

Love and light…

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Photo by Tapman Media, New Orleans

Blossoms Today…Gone Tomorrow

Winter seemed endless, but spring is leaving (read: has left) all too quickly.  We still have about 2.5 weeks until the “official” beginning of summer, but we’ve been feeling 90 (or near 90) degree temperatures here in Northern Alabama for a few weeks now.  We won’t even mention the humidity!

Spring is far too short for a person like me.  I do not like long, cold winters, and the only thing I like about long, hot summers is remaining indoors with the air conditioning.

Nearly two months ago, I celebrated the mild temperatures of spring with a photo walk around campus.  I referred to this walk near the end of a previous post–it began with failed tulip photos (probably because I wasn’t willing to get down and dirty–literally). Even though the tulips disappointed me, I’m pleased with the pretty blossoms I captured.

Cherry Blossom by Me, April 2014

“Cherry Blossom: Oakwood in the Spring”, April 2014

I’m so happy I decided to take a walk that particular day because a few days later, when I took a walk to the campus market, the blossoms were G-O-N-E!

The dogwood “blossoms” were on their way out too.  I altered the photo (below) with a grunge overlay because I’m using it as part of a gift. Shhhh…don’t tell.

Dogwood by Me, April 2014

“Dogwood,” April 2014

A week or so after I photographed the dogwood I received this beautiful photo postcard from Rebecca, my swap-bot pal and colleague in academia.

“Dogwood in Arkansas” by Rebecca R., Spring 2014

Rebecca captured her photo in early April, probably around the same time I shot mine!  How cool is that!  Like me, Rebecca carries her camera (almost) everywhere.  I’ll have to share some of her other beauties in a post soon–maybe, my next post.

Here are two more photos from my early April photo walk:

Pretty in Pink, April 2014

“Pretty in Pink,” April 2014

I have no idea what this tree is called–and frankly, I’m too lazy at the moment to find out.  It rests near “my building” and goes through a number of beautiful transitions throughout the year.

Pretty in Pink (even closer), April 2014

“Pretty in Pink II,” April 2014

Finally, here’s a pear blossom tree I shot on a March afternoon while running errands:

Pear Blossom, March 2014

“Pear Blossom,” March 2014

I am so grateful for earth’s casting off the dull, hard covering of late winter and showing off the revival of her beauty.  I will be enjoying this display all summer long.  Through photographs.  Indoors. In my air conditioned home.