Thursday, November 17, 2011

MamaBlogger365 - Gratitude in the Face of Loss by *Dr Mama* Amber Kinser

I am choosing to face my day today with gratitude. Sometimes I choose gratitude proactively, because it’s a good way to live, and sometimes I choose it reactively, when I don’t know how else to face what I have to face. Today, my father was taken again to the intensive care unit of the hospital, with difficulty breathing and potentially with pulmonary emboli. I’m worried about him, and I’m worried about what the deterioration of his health or loss of him altogether will do to my mother. She’s an emotionally and psychologically stalwart one, she is, and this “ain’t her first rodeo,” as she would be sure to remind you lest you forget and start to fret over what she can handle and what she can’t. But the loss of him will have great impact on her life in any case, not just emotionally or relationally, but in terms of complicated things like pensions and finances and property and living in their home in the mountains by herself. But he is with us today, right now.

Also today, my friend and colleague, Dr. Karen Cajka, Associate Professor of English and Director of Women’s Studies at ETSU, passed away from complications stemming from pulmonary embolism. She was forty-five years old. I need to take a moment as I write to wrestle with the fact that I am writing of her in the past tense; I’m going to do it deliberately in this paragraph, despite how ridiculous it feels, in an effort to clear some of the fog that blew into my head when I got the phone call this morning. We are all quite rattled. We can’t get it to make any sense at all for any of us. She was an advocate for women’s studies, a champion for social recognition of women’s literature and the ways it has impacted and continues to impact women’s lives and broader social understandings of them. She had a keen mind and sharp wit, often flavored with a sweet dose of sarcasm and blended deliciously with wry humor. Her students were and are true devotees whose lives were changed and paradigms were shifted and visions were sharpened. Her physical presence is gone from us but her mind and her passion for women’s writing and perspectives in the lives of her students and colleagues.

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