“I go and prepare a place for you . . . that where I am, there you may be also.” ~ John 14:1-3 (NKJV)
Through Your Eyes
By Eileen Umbehr
This Friday marks two years ago
Since we had to say good-bye
Your passing came without warning
And all we could do was cry
But how could we protest
When you died in such a way
Laughing and swimming with all of your friends
On Mazatlan’s shores that day
And who could ever forget
The sunset you caught the night before
Or how you saved it on your computer
And named it, “What I came here for.”
Although your death seemed so tragic in many ways,
In other ways it was eerily fitting
That one such as you – a lover of life
Would die while truly living.
Now your ashes will be spread at the water’s edge
With Nikki surrounded by her circle of friends
While the rest of the Van Kirk family
Gathers in spirit and love that transcends
We love you and miss you, Patricia
Our continuing grief we cannot disguise
But in honor of your childlike love of life,
We’ll strive to see God’s world through your eyes.
“It takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer. You need less imagination to be a painter, because you can invent things. But in photography, everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the ordinary.”
~ David Bailey
“She hated to be in front of the camera. She wanted to be behind it. She wanted to be snapping pictures of Connor's funny faces.
She wanted to catch me with my hand on the back of my swimsuit, after a nose dive onto the sand. She wanted to say "Get closer together! Zach! Lean in!" – as the cousins laughed, and tried to hold photogenic smiles.
She wanted to create collages, calendars, greeting cards – each bearing a bit of her heart – a bit of her spirit, joy, and passion. She wanted to be outside her home, taking the most fantastic pictures of birds, of green fields, of the people she lived for.
It makes my head reel and hurt and my fingers go numb, grabbing tissue after tissue after tissue to soak up tears, to soak up memories, to soak up the muffled sound of my mother saying, ‘Patricia,’ into my dad's shoulder.”
~ Amy Jo O’Connor, niece
Nikki & Patricia
The November after Patricia’s death, her partner Nikki held a gathering on Whidbey Island with several dear friends from Seattle (Bev, Caroline, Terry, Felicia, Sylvia, Diana, and family), and Whidbey Island (Roxy, Laura, Jan, Kat, Shawn, Lucy et al), to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday and what would have been Patricia's 55th birthday. They spent the day story telling, collage making, rock painting, and walking Ebey’s Landing (one of Patricia’s favorite places on Whidbey Island).
The day ended with singing and the lighting of 55 candles in honor of Patricia’s life and memory.
This Friday Nikki will be gathering once again at Ebey’s Landing with all of the loving friends she shared with Patricia (including Martha from Alaska, who described Patricia as "My dearest friend of the heart"). Here is the invitation she sent asking us to join them:
My dear family and friends,
My thoughts and prayers are with you as we approach the second anniversary of Patricia's passing. My heart wishes you continued peace and healing and pure joy of the memories you hold of our dear Patricia. She lives in each of us.
On March 23rd I plan to scatter Patricia's ashes at Ebey's Landing, a peaceful, beautiful place on Whidbey Island, where Patricia loved to walk and take in the sunsets. One late summer evening Patricia and I went to Ebey's Landing to chase the sun as it was going down and suddenly we came to the end of the path just missing the sunset as it disappeared behind the bluff. A huge pine tree stood in front of us and when we looked up, right over our heads, almost at arms reach, we saw two bald eagles staring down at us. Eye to eye. I'm sure you can imagine the sheer glee and the quiet squeal-whispers Patricia tried so hard to hold in so as not to disturb our new feathered friends! What an awesome moment of pure joy for both of us. Whenever I go to Ebey’s Landing I can hear Patricia's giggle and feel her absolute love and delight for life, family, friends, blue skies, sunsets, eagles, fresh air, and all the beauty that surrounded us that day. Today I find peace knowing her spirit is always near.
I invite you to join me on March 23rd. I know many of you may not be able to come to Whidbey so I will take you with me in spirit to the sacred circle near the tree of the bald eagles to remember and celebrate Patricia's life and the precious and loving ways she touched each of us. If you have a passage or poem you would like read feel free to let me know.
Thank you for all your love, prayers and support during these past two years. I hold you dearly in my heart.
My Sister, My Friend
By Joanne O’Connor, sister
Patricia, Patty, Patty Paprika
My sister and friend
As children and women
Memories, laughter, crocodile tears
Too few years
To know and love you
And though I know you’re
“Dancing with the Angels”
How my heart will miss you
My sister, my friend
Joanne, Janny, Jan
Say not in grief that she is no more
But say in thankfulness that she was
A death is not the extinguishing of a light
But the putting out of the lamp
Because the dawn has come.
Nine Minus One
Nine minus one
I don’t like that equation
Nine minus one isn’t right
We’re a family
And families always stay together
“Patricia’s lost,” Keen said.
I wanted to physically push the words back
Back through the air to where they came from.
“We lost our Patricia today,” Nikki said.
“Why did you tell me that, Daddy?” Caitlyn asked.
Kyle cried. Right before his birthday.
We all cried.
We cried together.
And now we cry again
As a family of eight
Instead of nine
And three boys
Just isn’t right
Our circle is lopsided now
Without our Patricia
Nine minus one . . .Nine minus one
Will we ever get used to this?
“We will miss her beyond what words can say. However, I believe her spirit is now with us all, and we will never truly be without her . . . I hope and pray that Patricia will experience in eternal life what she has shared with us in her earthly life: God’s great strength, eternal peace, and immense joy. Peace, Patricia.”
~ Joe Van Kirk, brother
There’s a gathering of spirits
There’s a festival of friends
And we’ll take up where we left off
When we all meet again. . . .
Just east of Eden
But there’s heaven in our midst
And we’re never really all that far
From those we love and miss
The Gathering of Spirits ~ recorded by Carrie Newcomer (with Alison Krauss)