... sort of. I've thrown everything I would like to take to London into my purple suitcase. Luckily, I still have 24 hours to un-'n'-repack which I shall do with the help of my extremely helpful & practical Kaelin.
I am returning for the first time in 2.5 years. Things were so different then. Vic knew deep inside that it would be his last London visit & saying goodbye to people like Peter & Steve would have a greater finality.
We were introduced to Shay's husband, who made everyone's skin crawl. Time would prove all our instincts all too accurate.
Lesson learned: always, ALWAYS listen to your instincts. Your heart knows what it knows.
We spend wonderful moments on favorite walks through Holland Park & Kensington Gardens.
We ate delicious polish & italian food. Vic & Peter toasted life with vodka & wine. Nicky, Steve, Vic & I all laughed & cherished a few rare, final times together.
Kaelin brought joy to everyone & had a blast window shopping in High Street Kensington just like I did at her age, all those decades ago.
Fast foward: October 14, 2011.
I am preparing for a lengthier trip, this time solo. We are approaching the 2nd anniversary of Vic's death & I will be acknowledging in an apartment that is so overflowing with memories that photos actually cover the entire fridge & freezer, lamp shades, doors, you name it. My mother is not what one would call "low key."
The good news is that 2 years on, I feel that I am finally coming out of the fog that has enshrouded me.
As a family, we have settled down into some kind of loose routine, if that makes sense. With so many different ages & stages living under one roof, we have all had to make serious adjustments & I feel that we have worked out all that pent up frustation, sadness & anger at our individual & communal loss of Vic.
So that's the good news.
The bad news is the shadow side to all the aforementioned.
Personally speaking, to have the realization that I am totally alone at 54, with a life that was completely enmeshed in being part of team, a couple, a partnership, well, it's a very bitter pill to swallow.
Being Vic's wife & mother to our children was my life. Outside of it - almost nothing.
I was happy with that, devoted to it, at times a little stifled but at the end of the day, life was all about Vic & "the kids, the kids, the kids ... "
As the dust settles, I find myself in the novel & overwhelming position of having to create a whole life for myself, myself as the individua.
I am no longer 50% of a team. Rather, I am 100% that is Team Karen.
Mulling what I enjoy, what gives me pleasure, what direction I would like to see myself is big & scary, to be honest.
I have thought about it & so I find myself on the eve of going to London, with a purpose.
For ages, nay decades, my Mother has asked me to commit to paper "her story". Many people have approached her over the years to write her story or make a film of her experiences. She has spent the past 20 years as a most vocal advocate for post-war reconciliation & forgiveness, giving interviews & speeches wherever there is a willingness to hear her experiences.
Steven Spielberg is reportedly rereleasing "Schinder's List" & when I heard this, I had a powerful realization.
Survivors of World War II are diminishing fast. Their voices will be silenced.
Who will help remind people of mans inhumanity to man, 60 years ago.
Can we learn from our past?
To that end, I decided to undertake the writing the story of a remarkable (small) group of ordinary people who, under extraordinary horrific circumstances did extraordinarily brave & humane things.
Armed with tape recorder & a copy of Dragon Speak on order, I hope to do this story the justice it deserves.
I am hoping to write my way through some of this grief, which still grips me like a vice.
I did not realize that I last checked in with the "Crone" in March but so many people have asked me what happened with her that I hope to bring her back with greater frequency.
Unless I can piggy back on someone's wi-fi in London, it is going to be hard to write from there but I will try. I'd really like to send a photo from my bedroom & kitchen - London laid out at my feet. Quite beautiful.
Until next time ... don't forget to share the love now while you can ...