My mom and dad both had busy full time jobs when I was born (Mom at the Treasury Department, Dad at the Gwinnett Daily News), so when Mom was ready to go back to work she went through the newspaper to find a suitable baby-sitter for me. She found Karen, a wonderful woman who had three teenage children, no driver's license, and a blueberry bush in her back yard. Two years later, when my little sister came along, Karen agreed to watch both of us. That lasted exactly one day, after which it was decided that I would go to daycare and my sister would continue going to Karen's. Two years later, my dad died. We ended up moving to Snellville, my mom started her own CPA office in our house, I started school, and we saw Karen less frequently. We did keep in touch with her and her family - I spent one "Take Your Daughter to Work Day" at the mall with one of her daughters, learning all about managing a candle store. Karen moved to Europe with her husband, who traveled everywhere for work. My sister and I would receive a postcard and a doll from each new country they visited. My mom made half-hearted plans to fly us out to France to visit them, but we never actually went. Karen eventually moved back, but her new house was farther away and we didn't see her as often as we once had.
We found out today that Karen is dying. Her husband called to let us know that she has cancer. It's terminal, and they don't think she'll last that much longer. She's at home for right now. They have hospice workers coming over daily, and they give her lots of medicine to keep her out of pain. I'm really upset right now, and not just because her family waited so long to tell us that she's been so sick. I'm mad at myself for not going to visit her sooner. I feel guilty because there have been so many times that I've thought to myself, "I really should give Karen a call." My sister recently got engaged, and I know she really wanted to go visit Karen to tell her about her fiance. We had talked about going to visit her, but never actually did it. I feel really bad for her, because she was always "Karen's little baby" and I know she's taking this harder than anyone. We're going to visit Karen tomorrow, to say goodbye. It's a visit that's long overdue, but I'm glad that we have the chance.