I first met Karen when she agreed to host an I Am More exhibit in the busy lobby of North Shore Music Theatre, where she is the General Manager. She is open and easy with her generosity, and warmly welcomed us. I thought that would be the end of our connection, but as the pandemic unfolded in 2020, and I watched her from afar be forever changed by the events, I did the only thing an artist can do, and later handed her a surprise drawing to help her heal. Eventually it dawned on me that Karen was an obvious I Am More portrait subject, and she kindly agreed to participate.
In March 2020, my husband Steven and I were two of the early cases in the state of Massachusetts to contract the Coronavirus. On March 17th, after an agonizing weekend of intensifying symptoms, we drove to the hospital. Steven was immediately taken out of our car, weak and gravely ill. Steven turned around, blew me a kiss, and said I love you….and that was the last time I saw him. It was four hours before they were able to return for me in my car.
After 35 days, 31 of those days in a medically induced coma, I awoke to find I had lost my husband to COVID, along with my beloved father-in-law, a dear friend, and my job. I was in the hospital for 65 days, followed by a four-month recuperation in my sister’s home learning to walk again and to navigate the gravity of my new life.
I am a widow, a survivor, a warrior. But I am more than that. I am a woman full of gratitude for all I’ve been blessed with. I am a woman who loves people and their stories, their imperfections, and their vulnerabilities. I am a woman who continues to smile and laugh and live each day to the fullest with tremendous passion. It would be a disrespect to the healthcare workers and my family and friends who worked so hard to save me, physically and emotionally to do otherwise.
I honor my beloved husband, Steven’s memory every day, fully present, doing charitable work and extending kindness in his name. My story is heartbreaking but hopeful. Despite everything I’ve been through, I continue to be blessed with love by all who surround me. Tomorrow is promised to no one. Live every day like it’s your last.
You can see Steven’s portrait here.