Blessed by your love

Karen and Greg posing in front of a museum in Seattle, Washington

Dear Karen,

I can see it my mind's eye like it was yesterday; we're both walking along railroad ties in our church parking lot like they're tight ropes and talking. I said something that makes you laugh and you look back over your shoulder and that warm summer glow dances through your hair and illuminates the smile that continues to take my breath away.

Like many young couples, we primarily talked and planned for the joyful milestones we might share together. We talked about visiting Hawaii, which we would do a few years after our marriage thanks to your loving Nana & Papa which would spark a tradition of scrounging money; and initially you trading your art for places to stay on any island we could. So many wonderful memories for our family are bathed in the sun and sand of those islands; and encourage our wanderlust spirit.

Matt and Rachel sleeping as babies

Matt and Rachel posing on logs in Alaska

We talked about children, and how we felt two is the perfect number. You had more practical reasons, but I still stand by the fact that most vacation competitions are for a family of four, not more (still hopeful on this one panning out). In 2006 we would welcome our first, Rachel into the world and she would change our world in many ways. I recall sitting in the back of your parent's SUV singing to her as she screamed because she believe that Kenai is too far from Wasilla (I tend to agree with her). Then sitting in the kitchen of our new home while Rachel, at the time - two years of age, sat defiantly telling you that she will not say she's sorry to you for being bad. We laughed about her stubbornness after the standoff came to a close and she was in bed.

Then Matt came into our life, a sweet, sympathetic and joyful little boy. One that was all to eager to get into trouble with an older sister that was more than happy to come up with creative solutions and allow him to take the fall. These two were inseparable and quickly became each other's best friends.

As our family and careers grew, we were ready for more and we increasingly ready to leave Alaska. One March we visited Lake Oswego, Oregon where your Nana and Papa live for vacation. We took a walk around the neighborhood and relished in what it might like to live in a community like this and feel 70 degree weather in early spring rather than having to wait for summer. A few years later I would be on the phone with an employee from Microsoft and he asked, "Are you willing to relocate?" With absolutely no hesitation I stated emphatically, "Yes."

Greg and Karen posing in front of the pond at Monet's garden in Giverny, France
Greg and Karen posing in front of the pond at Monet's garden in Giverny, France

Our journey to the lower 48 began and excitement filled the tiny 800 square foot apartment for opportunities to come. We began to talk about what retirement should look like for us and things we long to do together while on this earth. We quickly listed out most of the hot spots in Europe. We've been truly blessed in that the team I joined at Microsoft just so happens to join W3C standards meetings in Europe at least once a year. You would tag along for some of them, and while I was in the meetings you would be out seeing some of the sites. We would meet up in the evening and enjoy the culture and friends. So many great memories that further unlocked our desire to travel and we've been able to see some our dreams for our fifties occur in our thirties.

Rachel sick in the hospital
In January of 2018 Rachel was diagnosed with brain cancer

Then came 2018, a year that embodies the harsh realities that no one ever thinks of when they say their vows; although we all know there is a possibility of unfortunate events occurring. Karen, you have stepped up in a big way, and honestly I wouldn't expect anything different. You're remarkably selfless, confident and strong. I don't wish the year we've had on anyone but I also know that I hope that anyone that has to walk this road has someone beside them like you. You've shown a patience and love, not only to Rachel but to the entire family that I will continue to strive and match. You're incredible and no words that I type can do you justice.

Greg and karen in Leavenworth.

I fell in love with a woman that is beautiful, strong, creative and confident and when we said, "I do", I had no idea how much I would appreciate those qualities as I have this year.

While this year doesn't feel quite like the others, it has shown how blessed by your love I am - possibly more so than any other year. With you, the Lord we can get through this.

I love you,