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For Karen Wendy Gilbert

These words were written by Karen Wendy Gilbert who had been a client of Writer’s Relief for ten years. She passed away on September 30, 2008 in Beth Israel Hospice. We’d like to thank her for sharing her writing and some of her time with us. Our own words don’t seem adequate, and so we are choosing to share HER words with you (with her permission). Karen was a courageous and talented woman.

Karen: We send you love, love, love, and more love.

With appreciation of your gift,
                        Ronnie and the staff of Writer’s Relief

On a clear, cold, God-given morning,
the sky was the original shade of blue
before doubt or cloud or second-thoughts
were invented.

Words like
“Incandescent,” “entropy,” and “implicate,” thrill me.

Amidst the material left as the waves recede are some man-made objects.
An occasional condom, the plastic casing of a tampon, the postage stamp-sized
Ziploc baggie that once held crack. Why anyone would need the rush and crash
Of crack here beside the rush and crash of the tides I can’t imagine,
Although, one is as likely to lead a life of soul-sucking desperation here as anywhere.
I, who know my days are numbered, am at peace here,
As nowhere else. The endless repetition of the waves,
Of the tides, of the flotsam and jetsam lend a soothing sameness to my days.
I repent nothing,
and hurl myself onward,
as fast as my lead shoes allow me, into the yawning abyss
(in my new sunglasses I look just like Grace Kelly).

With red-rimmed eyes and dark-brown skin,
His pores smelling like sweet wine,
The rain falling on his head and face,
He asked me for a quarter.
While I fished in my pocket,
He said, “God, what I really need is a hug.”
I looked up—startled,
And he, afraid he’d lose his quarter
Said—to me, to the rain, to the red traffic light
That kept us both at that corner,
“Now I’ve scared you.”

But he hadn’t.
And in my pocket I found two quarters and a dime,
And gave it all to him.
As well as the hug.

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58 Responses to For Karen Wendy Gilbert

  1. Karen, I’m sorry that we never met. In your words, I can hear the rush of the tide and hope for the weary and lost. Yours is a beautiful mind, and you have obviously lived graciously and with joy. Peace to you from an admirer.

    Posted for Janice Lierz

  2. Dear Karen,
    Knowing you, just through your poetry, makes me happy.Thank you. I send you my love and prayers.

    Ormond Frost

  3. Dear Karen,
    you are so generous with your writing, your images so strong and pungent and I can feel your lead shoes on my feet. Thanks you for all the thrills and chills and warming words that you’ve shared with us over the years. I send you much love and wishes for a peaceful passage.


  4. Karen,
    Though we have never met, being connected through this amazing community created by Writer’s Relief moves me to reach out to you. The excerpts of your work are very powerful. Your insight is a gift for us all.

  5. Karen –

    I’m reading your work and all these comments
    Not knowing you but feeling that I’ve been given
    a fine gift. What a pleasure. Somehow I think
    these words of tribute will go with you and bless
    you. Thank you. Go with God.


  6. Dear Karen,
    Your words are beautiful. I am so grateful for those who share their life experience in their writing like you have done. I am 68 and shy enough that I have never shared any of my writing until this last year. People like you, who do so, give such gifts to the rest of us, and have inspired me to share my own self, too.

    May the great Light on the other side greet you with its fullness when it’s time, and Love surround you completely through this time.


  7. Karen,

    Your poetry is beautiful and inspiring and shall be looked upon as your immortal gift to this world. I’m honored to have had the chance to work with you! May you be surrounded by love, light and peace throughout your journey.

    With love and hugs,

    Writer’s Relief Staff

  8. Dear Karen,

    Beautiful words never fail to lift my spirits, as do the sounds of the ocean and the waves. As a fellow writer, I salute your courage and thank you for your poetry which touched me deeply. I, too, send a hug and wish you peace.


  9. Dear Karen Wendy Gilbert~

    When you come to the edge of all the light you know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly. -Author unknown.

    Marilyn Gilbert Komechak

    (as sent to Writer’s Relief)

  10. Karen, All things of worth last more than a life time. Your poem about the man on the other side of what we take for granted touched me deeply and I will read it to my students to make sure it lasts past my life time.

  11. Hello Karen,
    I am thinking of you and sending thoughts of love, beauty,
    and strength from the far North, Fairbanks in Alaska.
    Your stunning words have filled me with grace and peace.

  12. Ah Karen…wanted to add a Haiku I wrote about my dad and now its for you too:

    crossing my path
    a red tailed hawk
    like you a high-flyer

  13. Dear Karen,

    I am taking a senior stretch class and we end it by crossing our arms, taking hold of our own shoulders, and giving ourselves a big hug. I hope you do that every day. I send you one of mine. So much love travels to you and with you…namaste.

  14. Hi Karen:

    I’m sending you rainbow ballon bubbles of good wishes. Also a song of healing from my heart.

    The phrase ‘engaging the observer’ from Diane Eshin Rizzetto’s book "Waking Up to What You Do" inspired me to sharpen my vision and slow down my habitual reactions today. I imagined a switch that I turned on and my whole being became a 360 degree observer Eye. I’ll think of you as I travel (my husband and I are driving from Ottawa to Tucson, AZ), especially when I look at the sky and flowers.



  15. I have tears in my eyes reading the comments above, as well as for the beautiful words.

    Go with every good thought and wish!


  16. Dear Karen–

    Thanks for the God-given gift of your original blue singing words.
    It’s clear that your wisdom will guide you through this next remarkable transformation. I wish you peace, comfort and joy–

  17. Dear Karen,

    You are my kind of person,a compassionate poet and writer.

    I love that you gave that man a hug. God saw it too!

    I pray you have peace for your journey.

    I will look for your work, and I know I will enjoy it tremendously.

    Barbara Eknoian

  18. it’s those moments on the street when someone (who knows who, eh?) puts their face in your path and asks.
    "You have to ASK," I tell those who I don’t give to, or interact with.

    My brother, who just died of cancer three months ago, sends me messages thro the ether, thro psychics, thro my own explorations. Recently he said, "Love. Not just family and friends, but outside your circle, expand your circle. Give it; love." [As a former editor, he would hate these presumptive quotation marks. That isn’t EXACTLY what he said.]
    And I am. Loving. Strangers. The chance encounter.

    These random encounters often feel like the measure of me.
    Thank you for bringing it into form.

    Love (to a stranger?)


  19. Many thanks for your beautiful, absolutely inspiring words!

    Peace and bear hugs,

  20. Karen,

    Your words and your life are inspiring to me. I wish you peace and comfort in the months ahead. Life takes so many turns…we have to quietly, graciously expect and accept the unexpected. You’ve touched so many of us. That’s immortality.

    Love AND hugs,


  21. Dear Karen,

    What a pleasure to read your poetry. You seem at peace by the ocean and that is a relief. Your words are here. You are here. Always.

    Thank you for that.


  22. Dear Karen: Thank you for your beautiful words! … Here is a poem by Rabindranath Tagore which has "spoken to my condition" on many occasions. Perhaps it will resonate with you as well.

    On that birthday morning,
    With deference
    I lifted my eyes to the sunrise.
    I saw the dawn
    The white forehead of the mountain ranges.
    I beheld
    The great distance
    In creation’s heart
    On the throne of the lord of mountains.
    From ages, majestic,
    He has preserved the unknown
    In the trackless forest;
    The sky-cleaving, far-away,
    In sunrise and sunset.
    On this birthday,
    The great distance grows in my heart.
    The starry path is nebular,
    And my own remoteness
    The pilgrim moves, his path unseen,
    The consequence unknown.
    I hear that traveler’s footsteps
    From my lonely seashore.

    Prayers and good thoughts from Ed Brooks

  23. Dear Karen/Grace Kelly,
    Thank you for your powerful words and images. They remind us that we can be strong, courageous, and generous, even if we are not as gifted with language as you are. I hope you are wearing those sunglasses! And I wish you peace and infinite hugs.


  24. Karen,

    Such power in your words! They bring tears to my eyes, send shivers down my spine, and yet afford consolation, a verbal embrace.

    With love and heartfelt thanks,

    Writer’s Relief Staff

  25. I just returned from two weeks at the beach and I know there is no greater magic. You capture so wonderfully the mundane and magnetic allure of the ocean. I wish Gods love and grace.

  26. Karen,

    Your light will continue to shine and your incandescence will merge with the universe and bring joy to everyone who reads your words.

    May peace be with you as you start the greatest journey of all.

  27. Thank you for your inner beauty. Thank you for showing us how to live, with kindness and generosity for perfect strangers; for are we all not perfect strangers in this world? You have indeed done unto others what you would like to have done unto you, a perfect example.

    How great it is of you to march on before us all and show us that it’s perfectly safe to die.

    With love, hugs, and gratitude,

    Your new cyberspace friend, Ginny Fry

  28. Dear Karen:

    Your words are moving and will last forever. Sending a vitual {{{hug}}} and blessings,


  29. Dear Karen

    Your words are beautiful, as the sea, as you surely are.
    I hope and pray that things go well for you. Your work has certainly helped things go well for others. And, a long hug.


  30. Dear Karen:
    Your words truly express an inner beauty that I for one will carry with me in my writing and my heart.

  31. Karen,
    Words can never thank you enough for a life- your life- lived in a cloak of beauty and kindness and so much courage. Beneath that cloak– love beyond measure, treasures greater than the tides and wind, and a soul brave enough to share her humanity with the rest of us. I pray you peace on your continued journey and light to brighten your way.
    Blessed Be You,
    Rev. Mary Diane Hausman

  32. Dear Karen,
    Words usually fail us. And yet, as with music, as with all of art, they are the only thing which can come so close to setting us free. They are born in our hearts, rise on the wind, and never completely disappear.
    You are not alone,

  33. Dear Karen,
    The mystery of what happens after has been a theme of much of my work. From one of my young characters: “Mama says that when we die, we hang our bodies up in the closet like an old dress and our spirit go shoppin’ for a new one." This writer isn’t sure of anything, but if she’s even close, you have a humdinger of a spree in front of you.


  34. Karen,
    What a gentle, gracious spirit you are. As you prepare for the best adventure, your compassion is there, sparkling, in your beautiful words.

    George Schminky

  35. Thank you so much for sharing Karen’s work with us. I am deeply moved by her immortal words.

    All my best,
    Lisa Leibow

  36. Karen:
    Your poetry made me think about the many times I refused to give love when it was needed by someone — friends and strangers.

    I have never met you, but I will forever think of you whenever I watch a wave separate on the shore, dissolving into incandescent foam. Your spirit will be there.

    Thank you.


  37. Dearest Karen,
    thank you for your presence and the words you live and leave behind. I only wish to do the same and to see you soon — there, in the original shade of blue.

  38. Your writing is beautiful, as I am sure you are. I, like so many others, will remember them–and you are immortal. Thank you for your courage and serenity.

  39. Karen,

    "And in my pocket I found two quarters and a dime,
    And gave it all to him.
    As well as the hug."

    This shows the spirit of a woman who is generous with her random acts of kindness and with her art. My thoughts are with you.

    Lisa from Writer’s Relief

  40. Hi Karen,

    Just remember… The shores that await you have no garbage strewn amidst the beauty… Only souls with smiles waiting to give you hugs. And a souls journey never ends.

    I’ll keep you in my prayers,
    Mickey Flagg

  41. Karen,

    It has been an absolute pleasure working with you during my time here at Writer’s Relief. You’re an amazing writer and person, and it’s lovely to say that I’ve known such a strong, inspiring woman.

    Thank you for being everything you are.

    With love,

    Writer’s Relief Staff

  42. Karen–

    Words thrill as does a true blue sky, the rolling surf and the hug of a stranger. You inspire me with what truly matters, what is precious.


  43. waning moon
    the floatsam and jetsom
    sparkle still

    Thank you for your gift of words, your shining spirit.
    Bright blessings,

  44. A hug is an underrated art form. I have given and received many special ones in my days. To read about someone’s understanding of the hug as an act that can never discriminate is refreshing. And to know that this someone is fighting bravely and truly embracing her life is exhilarating. I am inspired and feel compelled to send a virtual hug to a woman I have only met via her written word. Thanks for sharing your life with us, Karen.

    Shawn Corby
    Writer’s Relief staff

  45. Time is a river and we’re each in our bobbing boat. Karen, you may reach the shore before us, but we’ll all arrive there soon after. We’ll have a meeting of writers and thinkers. Surely the new shore will need us! Safe journey.
    Tory Hartmann

  46. Your words capture reality in such a powerful way. May your journey be blessed, and filled with loving support.

  47. Karen,
    I wish you peace and light in all your moments. Thanks for sharing your wonderful words and spirit with the rest of the world.
    -Kriste (from Writer’s Relief)

  48. Dear Karen,
    I am very happy to read your words, and travel with you to the waves, the beach, the hug of a stranger, the exchange of love.

    Please accept my hug.

    Know that your words will be remembered. They reach into the heart of all.

    Thank you for them.

    Many blessings.

    Laura (Foley)

  49. Karen,
    My thoughts are with you and are hoping to find you again at that great shore throwing yourself ever forward with the passion that has so clearly defined your life and your writing. Thank you for living such a life.
    Victoria Jordan

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