It was the summer of 2009 when Jennifer and I met a gal named Karlys. It was after a political rally at the MN State Capitol when we a number of us gathered at a St Paul pub to decompress and talk about how to navigate through this new Barack Obama presidency. We met a lot of new people that day but happened to be sitting at the same table as Karlys, who was in town from Rochester. We had an extended chat with her and found her to be quite delightful. Jen and I ended up becoming friends with her on Facebook where we able to remain in touch.
Over the next several years, we maybe saw Karlys in person a handful of occasions but always had a lot to talk about given she too was a believer in Jesus Christ. Then it was about 2014 when I noticed she started going by the name "Kari" on Facebook. I was curious about the name change, so I figured I would ask next time we saw her.
When the 2014 Republican Party of MN convention was taking place in Rochester, Kari noticed on FB that Jennifer and I would be attending. She reached out via text message asking if we would like to meet her for dinner upon arriving in town. We pinned down a venue and ended up have a lovely 2-3 hour visit just catching up on life, etc. I then asked Karlys why she was now chosing to go by the name "Kari." She simply stated that, while being a professing Christian, she didn't feel as though she was giving all of herself to Jesus. As such, the new name "Kari" represented her renewed commitment to Christ. I thought it was incredibly heartwarming that she thought enough of her relationship with her Creator that she would take such a step to ensure others would also inquire of the change. Definitely an effective witnessing method.
That June 2014 evening was the last time we saw Kari in person. I would text her every October over the next few years to send birthday greetings to which she always replied with gratitude. For some reason, I missed her birthday last month.
As I was perusing Facbook last week, I noticed some mutual friends were sharing a CaringBridge site regarding an automobile accident involving Kari. On the morning of Friday, November 2, Kari was walking within a crosswalk near the Mayo Clinic (where she was an employee) when she was struck by a car traveling approximately 40 MPH. Kari was thrown 20 feet, resulting in severe injuries from which she would never recover. The following Monday, Kari's family made perhaps the most difficult decision imaginable by choosing to remove her from artificial means of breathing.
Perhaps the most poignant moment of Kari's saga was shared via video from her brother Kendall. It was footage of Mayo personnel wheeling Kari to the operating room one last time so she could donate her organs.
Words can’t really describe what taking this walk was like - after we had a chance to pray, share memories, and let everyone know the one thing my sister would want everyone to know - that she is with her creator joyfully in awe of Him - we walked with her to the elevator to say goodbyes. When the doors closed, she went into the operating room to give generously all she had left.
The line of all the co-workers the entire way singing Amazing Grace completely caught us by surprise and totally blessed us! It’s that amazing grace we’ve been given through Jesus that strengthens us so we can offer grace to others.
In one last show of grace, the family also conveyed a message to the driver of the car which struck and killed Kari.
“We would want the driver to know that we understand that Friday was the worst day of her life, as well, and we can't imagine what she's going through and just the guilt and weight that's on her shoulders. We would like her to know that we love her, and that God's grace is offered to her just as it's offered to us, and that we forgive her."
Upon the incredible grace and dignity shown by Kari's family despite their emotional anguish really tempers any disappointment I may have felt over my preferred political party getting shellacked in my home state last Tuesday. I will be forever grateful for God's perpetual grace by allowing us to achieve peace and comfort which transcends all understanding.