picture by Aiden...of Raymond and KarenWhile in New Orleans I received a message via facebook from Raymond, someone I did not know (had no idea who he was) that basically said hey if you're ever passing through I would really love to meet you. Now..I'm a small young female traveling the country with 2 young boys... I didn't know Raymond at all and while I appreciate the offer from ANYONE I sat on the email and truthfully thought about how I could politely decline. A couple of days went by and as I was leaving New Orleans en route to Houston, TX (in the night no less) I passed a sign saying the town Raymond lived in was around 70 miles and thought oh crud...never emailed him back...SO I pulled out my phone and started typing the nicest decline I could muster up. I received a response from Raymond about 35ish minutes later...which basically explained he was a fan of Katie's...but the part that hit me...in the face and gut was the following:
Katie meant a lot to me on many levels. I was very upset when she passed away. I think God may have been looking out for me and "prepped" me for a loss as I had to experience one much greater than that of Katie (whom I had never met) but was a fan....my twelve year old son passed away on January 30 after becoming ill in June.
This was February 25th...not even a month after this man lost his son. In my gut I knew I should call him...now only 10 miles away. So I did...and thankfully Raymond guided me to a nearby McDonalds (for the kids sake and ours) where we met one another...shared our medical trauma stories...exchanged stories about our grief, but basically just related to one another...and had a very real, very human interaction. It is everything I wanted the great adventure...it is a moment in my life..simple as it may seem which I will always cherish and never soon forget. There is something so magical about sharing yourself with another...about interacting in a real way...if even for a moment. So while it may have been a risky thing to meet a stranger at night...I knew in my guts it was the right thing to do..so I took a risk..and yet again it paid off.
Thank you Raymond for being so bold and reaching out to me...I'm not sure how you carry on in this life with the burden of a loss of a child...but you inspired me on that night to continue to carry on with my head held high!