Saturday, February 19, 2011

Who am I?

People keep telling me, I am me and I will be. But who will I be, when two of the many possible side effects of brain radiation are speech and memory problems? How will I remember who I am? How will I keep from feeling rudderless, if I can't be who I've always been?

This is one thing I'm afraid of:  not being able to be myself.  Feeling sad and grieving and frustrated because I can't access the person I've always been, or the person I've worked hard to be.  Missing what I had, and won't have the ability to have again.  Not having the energy, memory, or resources to respond to the world the way I do now.

Put it in print, so I'll remember.  Tell me stories.  Tell me why you come here.  Tell me what connects you to me.  Tell me what you want me to take with me.  Tell me who I am, to you.


Cathy said...

I come here because of your wonderful faith, your story, your candidness. I want to walk the journey with you even if I have never met your personally, I feel like I know you well through your writing. I want you to take the knowledge that I am praying for you, and WITH you.
I think of this song while I write this:

Blessings upon you, my dear sister in Christ,

it's margaret said...

I come here because of love. Love in the wind. Love in the presence of owls.

It is the moon and sky and wind --the Spirit that connects us, makes us always one. And that is all that you will take with you. You are beloved. Always.

And a thousand years from now, when all our hopes and dreams and joys have been redeemed, God will know the little bits of scattered star dust that are you, and call you by name.

Fran said...

I have not come here as often as I once did due to some life circumstances of my own, but your name has held a permanent space on my prayer list for so long and remains there.

Let me tell you that I first "met" you when I posted something on my old blog, in 2008, and you came to leave such an amazing comment. I followed you back to your own blog and was glued.

Your trip to New Orleans is imprinted upon my heart and I always think of you leaving St. Anna's (I think that was the name of the church) and seeing the words "This is your mission field." That has inspired me - YOU - have inspired me, all along.

Your beautiful writing, your indomitable spirit and your generous heart... That is why people come here. You are life, blazing and alive, no matter what, you are light and your presence illuminates the world with a particular kind of love.

Remember that - you illuminate the world with a particular kind of love and it is so very beautiful.

Lori said...

You, my friend, are my finest example of living in love. You have a spirit that is constantly reaching out, filling the gaps in others' lives. When I think about why God sent Jesus to us and what He wants us to be, I don't think about the megachurch leaders and the politicians who run on a morals campaign. I think of you.

Your fear is understandable. But, I believe your spirit will always transcend the limitations of your body. It is too beautiful to be constrained. Thank you for sharing you.

Cecilia said...

You are a prophet, a truth-teller. You are Amos, telling God's people the truth of their situation. You are Miriam, bringing water into the desert to quench the people's thirst.

Praying for you, my sister.

Diane said...

I come here because of your spirit, your faith, your honesty. grace.

Anonymous said...

I'm here because of shared suffering through Greek & Hebrew, shared conversations about important things, shared time on the streets of SF. I'm here because your courage through all of this has inspired me. But mostly I'm here because I love you.


Anonymous said...

I come here because you are a fellow Christian in the world seeking answers as we all are and I love how you write. Keep it coming.


Two Auntees said...

I met you through through your blog before your cancer diagnosis. I Loved hearing your stories as you journeyed through seminary. As you started your journey through the hell that cancer brings, I have had some strong spiritual bond with you. I, too, faced the possibility of a cancer diagnosis at a young age. After a difficult surgery, I learned that I did not have cancer but the recovery was brutal.

Your writing, your faith and most of all the fact that you do not believe that God has caused this (a belief we share) has drawn me to you. You are on my mind and constantly in my prayers. I wish I could be there with you.....just to sit quietly, take a walk, listen or give you a hug when you need one. You have touched my heart so deeply.

Ann said...

I have a sign in my dining room that says:
"My friend is one who knows my song and sings it to me when I forget."
We will sing if you forget.

Mary Beth said...

Yes: what Ann said.

We met through RevGalBlogPals when you did the Wednesday Festival for a while...then I went to check on your blog one day and found of your diagnosis. I have followed you since and been so amazed and grateful that I get to have you in my life...even in the funny, attenuated world of internet connections. We have never met face to face and we may not. I live in Texas. But your writing has taken me with you on your journeys. It's been a privilege and a gift.

Always in my heart.

Sylvia said...

I don't know what to say, Kirsten, except that you are now and will always be a beautiful, beloved child of God, mysteriously revealing God's image to the world.

Kirstin said...

All of you: Your words are beautiful. I woke up to all of these. I don't know what to say back. Thank you. Love to all.

Anonymous said...

I remember you from my CIC days as a young woman filled with faith and hope that she will find her way out of the wilderness. You appeared with a unique innocence- not ignorance- innocence and eagerness. I remember feeling a common bond over similar struggles with our families. I love your spirit. - JJ

claire said...

I come here because you are my cancer sister. I find you awesome and inspiring, Godde-filled and a light to all of us. I would like to be able to hold you and tell you how precious you are, and that however you change, our love for you will not change but only increase.

Paul said...

I think back to earlier days when we compulsively e-mailed each other in the evenings chatting about all manner of things. I think of our shared friends June and Tom and your being in NOLA before I was there, in very different circumstances. You kept me in touch with the experience of seminary now that I am far from Holy Hill. And then the rabbit hole. Through all this you have abandoned yourself to God and God's world, fiercely honest in sharing what has gone on. When the rest of us hold back from the dark places you go there and share and reassure us that faith, hope, love, and meaning abide. As you face the next challenge it is God's faith in you that will carry you when your faith in God cannot find words or form. Jesus said no one snatches us from his hand and the Father's. You will be safe. We all will be. What Margaret said above. And Dame Julian.

Oh, I recall your saying some years back that you wanted to feed the people. You cannot imagine how many people you have fed through all this journey.

Lots of love, KP.

zahra said...

I remember when you came over and visited our family and showed such tenderness and playfulness with my littlest. I was suffering so much then and your presence was so comforting and fun. Even Christ on the cross was merciful despite his despair...I believe these spiritual gifts are everlasting in each of us willing to receive them. With great fondness and lots of prayer, I hope you will heal quickly. Call if you need anything.

susankay said...

Kristin -- I come here because you are so very brave (which is not in the least diminished by being very afraid) and it is clear that your bravery is a very immediate gift from God. I get awe-struck by seeing God's gifts incarnated.

JCF said...

You help me see The Great Inevitable I'd rather not. You give me a model for carrying on, "Barefoot and Laughing", under the shadow of The Great Inevitable.

And I know you're under the same Central Valley storm clouds, mixed w/ blue, as I type.

Blessings, {{{Kirstin}}}

Anonymous said...

You are a woman I hardly know; the day we came to your house was so clearly buoyed by the energy of you and Kathy together. Even though I was off in my world, doing homework with my headphones in, I could feel the stories you were swapping with Kathy, I could feel the spirit of love, comfort and support in your home, I could feel the purity of your soul and your faith. Your home is a refuge, a container of all that is good and sweet and affirming. Your demeanor affected me so much in the brief moments I was there. You are, and will be, a reminder to me of what it feels like to be in the presence of angels singing.

Lynda said...

I come here to share this with you...the news is good!

Kirstin is eternal

Who you are, you will always be. When the moment of slipping from your body comes, whatever piece of yourself you may have lost while still in your body will become fully yours again. Forever.

Like a midwife attending a woman in childbirth,I will be with you in spirit every step of the way as you give new life to the you that today lives beneath skin and bones.

YOU...the real YOU are not going to die, for Kirstin IS eternal.

Peace. Always!

Anonymous said...

Kirstin, I believe you will always be you. Your abilities may change but you will always have the spirit within you. It may turn out to be scary but there will always be you at the bottom. Keep yourself surrounded by great people and doing the things you love.

I need to tell you a story. When my Aunt Mary's mind was failing several of us went to visit her. (She was my mom's sister.) From my perspective I was the only person who was meeting her as she was, not as she used to be. And she gave me one of the most amazing looks I have ever seen. She greeted me not so much as though she was recognizing me her niece but as though she was recognizing another being in the universe, as though her soul was seeing my soul. It makes me sure that you will always be there.

I love you.

finch said...

Oh honey... yes, to Paul and Cecilia and Lori and Diane, and to Ann's promise, and Betty's vision & understanding. And yes to Sylvia, who describes you so well, and to Elsa, who knew what was in that room the day we laughed and cried and prayed together.

You are changed every day, yet Kirstin remains -- your spirit draws others to you, casts light on their rocky paths, gives hope to the suffering as well those who stand alongside you in trying to end suffering. You make an impression! You tell stories, your own and others. You see truth and give it a name. You feel pain and name that, too. You are a guide and a traveler at the same time, taking us out of ourselves and making us better because of it.

When we hiked to those petroglyphs did you not think how timeless story can be? Those lives changed, the world changed, but those images still speak to us... and so it is with you. Of course you fear losing who you are -- but what you've given so far won't be diminished, and there is still much for you to share.

When you need it I will be there to hold your hand and sing your song and remind you of all this. I believe you will only need a nudge.

So much love....


Anonymous said...

I met you when you were the hostess for the weekend at The Bishop's Ranch a little over a year ago. The women of our church were there on retreat and the staff came and had dinner with us. We sat together at dinner and I was so impressed by your strength, you had already been through so much for someone so young. (you mentioned later that you were older than you look, I must have looked stunned or something)

As you told me your story I saw someone who was close to God, someone who seemed to have touched God in a way that few have. And you have a great sense of humor. As I told you some of my story you listened, and I could feel the caring and the empathy. I knew that you heard me and did not judge me.

Later we sat next to each other during evening prayer and both yawned at the same time during the prayer that Jesus taught. I started giggling and Mother Susan who was behind us started yawning and giggling. I'm not sure why I included that story.

You are be beloved child of God and one of the bravest people I have ever met. We are praying, the women who were at that retreat remember you and send you love.


MadPriest said...

What upset me most when I suffered brain damage due to mental illness, was when people told me I was not the same person as I used to be. You want to scream out that, of course, you are the same person, that it's only a few neurones that are not connecting like they should do. And implicit in their accusations is that they believe the new you is not as good / nice / whatever, as the old you. It took me ages to realise that there was not a new me. I was the same me who had gone through hell and was different only in the same way as a person who goes to war comes back different if they have any humanity within themselves.

Steve said...


I am sorry to hear that you may need to take yet another step on the road of treatment. Your story reminds me of the book, I Have Lived a Thousand Years, an autobiography about a young woman who survived the Holocaust. As she her conditions and circumstances worsened, she felt that she simply could not survive the next blow. As she crossed each impossible line of survival she was surprised by her inner strength and her absolute will to survive.

You can do this. Life is worth doing this. You have people who will love you through this.

I remember the very first time we met. St. John's had just started hosting Safe Ground and I saw this woman with this overkill hat and long sleeves walking into the host meeting on a beautifully warm day. I came to the only logical conclusion....this woman is crazy. My assumption was certainly backed up by the wild smile and unabashed laugh of yours and your over-willingness to serve in any way possible. I would have been even more convinced that you were imbalanced had I known at the time that you weren't even a member of any of the host churches and had to travel to Sacramento to serve with this ministry. Fortunately for me, I have grown up with crazy and am willing to go with it. I can honestly tell you that I have memories of talking to you before or after every event. I have sought you out, not because you were a ready volunteer, but because of your passion, your complete focus on the moment, and your unfiltered honesty and candor. You truly have learned to live and have discovered the joy in connecting and serving others. You have learned that there is a season to allow others to serve you. You have learned to just be. You are filled with beautiful gifts. You are a beautiful.

I believe you will come through this treatment as wonderful as you are now. You may be different, but gold is elemental and does not change to carbon. Kirstin will remain Kirstin.

Bless you.

Jane R said...

Stubborn, on the side of life --for all including "the least among us"-- faith-filled, honest with yourself and others, and increasingly luminous, on the fine edge between fear and trusting awe.

Sending much love - and you saw the "signs of life" photo for you on Facebook.

Apostle In Exile said...

Do you remember the story of the fox, from Antoine de St. Exupery's "The Little Prince"? We have tamed each other, you and I, and we will never lose that, no matter what, no matter where, no matter when. Through all the smiles and laughter, and growing, and hoping, and longing, and sushi, and vlanguage (yes, for those others of you who are following this thread, that's not a misspelling), and oceans (real ones, and ones of cat fur), and knitted necktopusses, and bread-baking and Bishop's Ranch granola, and so much more. We have tamed each other--and, yes there will be tears, and yes, it has done us all the good in the world, as the Little Prince's fox said, "because of the color of the Wheat fields." And yes, you will always, always, always, always be YOU.

Anonymous said...

Dear Kirsten,
The you, who you are at CDSP
The 10pm smile in the hall: happiest at night when you were on your way to serve in the Tenderloin.
You are the girl who steps forward and
turns her face up to receive the blessing sprinkle from the hyssop wand-
-hands outstretched, almost dancing-
- joy on your face.
Once... I thought you looked as though you could have been someone standing outside in a gentle rain, welcoming the gift.
You are old-time mountain music - bouncing life through the wall. Reminding me of my home and sharing the smile.
And you are a "yes" to life.

Jade said...

My prayers are with you, Kirstin. Your memories, brain, and soul are all held in the light.
Please listen to this show:

Alison said...

Dear Kristin - though we met Long Years Ago back in Olympia, at the Coop and at Bill's house in Mud Bay, and it took me more Long Years since then to come to know you, the more of you that you share the more aware I am of the value of your Light. Light is never lost, Energy never dissapears... it is transmogrified, but is Eternal.

I have two friends who have had brain injuries and they are still themselves, expressed sometimes differently, but not different people

I hold you in my prayers (as I understand such things) allways. You are loved by many many folks, and touch many many folks with your journey your bravery your honesty and your spirit.

I come here again and again to read your words, because you are a bridge to the world of Spirit, and your writing is in it's own way, a ministry that reaches me. I am grateful to have you in my circle of friends.

For some reason when I read your query, the song "I Will Stand Fast" by the Rev Fred Small came into my mind... Do you know it?

Anonymous said...

Kirsten, we've never met face-to-face. I've been touched and strengthened by your honesty and courage.

You are light within Light. How you express that may change. Light will abide, and the many who love you (seen and unseen) will help you carry your light as long as you need us.

Deep peace.


Songbird said...

Kirstin, I remember when you joined RevGalBlogPals, and Mary Beth let me know of your illness. This morning instead of a Meet and Greet, I've posted about you and encouraged our ring members again to pray for you.

You are in my heart and mind and prayers as you walk this road.

Crimson Rambler said...

and I've only just met you, but you use words and phrases that rattle around in me -- like "end-game" -- and I wonder, "How do we find out how to play the end-game WELL?" It can be done -- but it's not like what preceded it.

I love your profile epigraph -- "Ain't got time to die" -- and I love the spiritual it comes from.

Glory and honor, glory and honor, ain't got time to die.

With you and for you, Kirstin, for sure.

Anonymous said...

I am here because of Songbird's post, as a revgal...I will hold you in my prayers and heart, and what everybody else said, I echo. You are You, now and always.
With love and respect and honor,
revkjarla at amazing bongos.

Presbyterian Gal said...

Dear Heart,
You are far more than your memories and your experiences in this eye-blink of corporal existence. You were far more than this when you came here and you will continue to be more. Human memory and existence is and has always been transient. That's how God created it, for reasons beyond our current limited ken.

Blessings on your journey. All your sweet good friends know you and remember you and I believe you will remember also. Just in a different context.


stinuksuk said...

You are a beloved child of God.
And although I don't stop by that often, know that my prayers are with you and for you.
I think back to a small quote I return to again and again in my life: Do not be afraid of tomorrow, God is already there.
Hope that helps some.

Linda Allen said...

Dear One, Child of God, Singer of Songs, you are loved. You are an are a are beautiful.
If you are willing, our Threshold choir will sing to you on Tuesday night,via phone from here in Bellngham.
Love to you -
A sister in song -
Linda Allen

Anonymous said...

Dear Kirstin,
I just stumbled on your site from TextWeek, and I had to write you. I'm not into blogging, but I wanted you to know that you will be in my prayers. I know you are facing a heap of bad stuff, so try to hold on to the good stuff - love and friendship and prayers and God.


Sarah in deepest, darkest Lomellina said...

For me you are kindness, honesty and truth telling.

Seems so very banal now doesn't it, that nastiness on an online place that used to be friendly (if heated when in debate). But it was so very vile and it changed my perception of not just people I thought I knew, but of humanity in general. The slip to being horrendous was just so very easy for so many and my Pollyanna mindset took a hit.

During that time you shone through as somebody who wouldn't let go of principle just because the format and the tone permitted a little foray into a lowering or personal standards. Because you are who you represent yourself to be.

And I love you for it.

Of all the people I got to know from that time onwards, you are one of the very few who were constant in self representation, and who you are is a good, good thing.

You are burrowed hard and fast in my heart and my mind as somebody who is as funny, warm and intelligent as she is a seriously good egg. And you made me jealous of the ability to have faith, because yours evidently gives you so much, without you ever having to take away from another in order to achieve that.

Much love, now, always, every step.


Teri said...

I come here for your candor, to pray and hold you up, to hear stories of hope in the midst of fear.

Holding you in the light.

Anonymous said...

You are a smile. A sincere, warm and radiant smile that comes from the heart.

We've never met in person. We are not even that terribly close on-line. Your journey has touched me as it has touched so many others.

But when I read your question, "who am I?" The first thing that came to my mind - was a warm and engaging smile - the type of smile that makes everyone feel as though they belong. The type of smile that reminds the rest of us that we should smile more, and if we open our eyes, we'll see more reasons to do just that.

You are not alone, you will never be alone. You are loved so much by those who know you well and those who know you a little.


Mimi said...

So many memories flit through my head when I think of you, visiting together, standing in the snow and watching Capitol Lake be blessed, giggling over "Miscopalians" but the memory that comes to mind most strongly is the photo of you that was in the newspaper. The look on your face is so you, the grin that is bursting through, and the strength and faith you draw from serving others.
I love you, my friend.

Robin said...

I don't know you at all, but I am coming here to pray with you because of today's RevGal post. And to read you blog and get to know you.

Anonymous said...

Kirstin, you are a child of God and a friend of mine. You have had an awesome influence on the trajectory of my life. You are a true disciple of Christ in the way I imagine disciples. Thank you. I love you.

Kayko said...

You will always be Kirstin, even when (if!) you don't remember. My aunt had brain mets, and until the last day remembered who she was, where she was, and the faces of those she loved with her. She did have problems with her speech (the first symptom for her), but never with remembering her essence. Also, in my experience with dementia parishioners, even when they didn't know where they were, and couldn't remember their name, they still knew *who* they were - that is, they remembered they were children of God. One man, in particular, couldn't remember words to speak, until I began the Eucharist with him, and then he knew all the words to the liturgy, the Lord's prayer, and reached for the Body and the Blood as food. You, too, will remember these things, and they will make you you.

Rani said...

gosh... i remember you from junior high school, then high school, and even in college. it's like i was always following you. :) and i remember i always wanted to talk to you, but we never spoke in person... until we met up for a brief moment in sacramento. how odd. and you were busy helping people. so happy. i'd wanted to go with you on a hospital trip, but it got canceled because you were doing so well. when we found out my uncle had melanoma a month ago, you've been a source of inspiration for me. your approach to this has been so intimate, resourceful, passionate and open. so grateful for that. thank you.

Anonymous said...

I come here because I found you via RevGals. Your writing has always felt so eloquent to me as you write in ways I can only hope to.
I thank God for your candidness throughout your illness - for being so honest and open. I only wish that some of my parishioners could think half as clearly as you do about illness and well-being.

My prayer is for you to be as whole as possible. For you to feel the love of so many who care for you. I pray that you can discover how much your life and ministry has meant, not only to the people you know face-to-face, but over the internet as well.
May peace be yours in your journey. Rejoice, dear sister in faith, that you are loved.
You remain in my prayers.
A pastor in the peach state

1-4 Grace said...

Thinking of you and holding you in prayers.
Pastor in the Palmetto state.

DeborahG said...

So many people speak of your faith, and that's true. But what I always think of first is your courage. When I first met you, it was obvious that you were often scared, but fear never stopped you from reaching out to serve, to speak, to love, to learn. Fear has never stopped you from speaking truth and inviting others to speak their truth. You share your courage with everyone you meet, no matter who they are, no matter how much they may have suffered or despaired. Your courage inspires us all and expands our hearts to embrace everyone as you embrace everyone.

Anonymous said...

we were in seminary together. i don't know that we would ever have called each other friends. i don't know that we even really liked each other. we were too different, or maybe too much the same in all the wrong ways. i don't know.

i do know that i come to this blog because even though we never were close, in fact, hardly spoke, your blog teaches me things about what grace looks like. i know that reading the words you write reminds me to be humble, and to love, and that life is precious, and a gift.

know this- regardless of when or how you transition from this world to the next, you will be remembered. you will be remembered by many, many people, but you will also be remembered by me. i will speak your name with joy and honor.

much love.

OmPowered said...

finally, a moment to post this...

You are buoyancy, my friend, and effervescence. I have never looked into your eyes but I have looked into your heart and seen...truly SEEN. You know that we don't share the same faith but I want you to know something...a thing that I have never said before, and maybe even never thought before, and it's this: if I were to ever choose to believe in a god figure in this lifetime, the face would belong to you.

Love you ~E