In memory of In memory of Dr. Karen Royer


I met with Dr. Karen via screen during the early Covid months of 2020. I needed help in dealing with my aging mother who was living with us. My mother had been a life-long sufferer — first of Bipolar disorder, and later with a range of physical-pain issues including arthritis, spinal stenosis, and osteoporosis leading to broken bones. I did not know it, but she was also being ravaged by abdominal cancer.
Dr. Karen helped me deal with the constant stress of having a suffering mother in my house. She also helped me cope with the stresses of being a teacher during Covid — switching abruptly from in-person to online teaching. She was a calm, gracious person of faith, experienced in the pain that life can bring.
I stopped meeting with Dr. Karen sometime in the summer. I suppose that was because I was on break from teaching, and so my stress was reduced.
Then my mother ended up hospitalized, her cancer was discovered, and she died, all in the period of about a month. There was churn with regard to final arrangements, Covid restrictions, job changes, and much more; I didn’t grieve, really.
At the very end of 2020, I decided that I needed to work with Dr. Karen again. She knew me well enough to help me with the next big stressor: writing my mother’s eulogy. A memorial service would need to be arranged after Covid, and I would need to be able to speak about my mother.
So I e-mailed Dr. Karen — and it bounced back. Her mailbox was full. — Odd.
I googled her, and then I found out:
she had died on the same day my mother did.

I’ve never felt so betrayed and abandoned by God. My mother had attended seminary and hoped to be a pastor. Dr. Karen was a Christian faith-based counselor. Questions of faith, of who we can depend upon to care for us, were central to my relationship with my mother (of course) and with Dr. Karen. I don’t understand What God was doing in calling them home on the same day.

But I do thank God for letting me meet and work with Dr. Karen. She was a blessing to me as I am sure she was to many others. I pray that her end was peaceful.

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