Kari's family and I began direct contact in early 2002. On what would have been Kari's 19th birthday, I received a "Happy 19th Birthday to your Lungs!" card. Folded in the card was a beautiful poem titled "From a Quiet Corner"… I've read and re-read this poem a hundred times. The poem had the author's email address on it, and I always wanted to contact Jennifer and tell her how beautiful I thought the poem is… But I wasn't sure how she might feel hearing from me, and I could never invade her privacy in that way.
In April 2004, I received an email from Kari's Mom saying Jenn wanted to get in touch with me… A few days later, a precious little email popped into my inbox. Though I already knew a good deal about her, Jenn introduced herself and explained her relationship with Kari. She told me they were close friends, neighbors and running partners - And that they had been running, or really walking and goofing around a few days before Kari passed. She said they had gone to one another's houses and saw each other's prom dresses… Kari never got to wear hers.
Jenn said she couldn't run for a long time after Kari passed because it brought back too many memories… Her family moved from Algona not long after. She said that she was back to running a few years later - And "talked" to Kari on her runs to keep her from slowing. Her next paragraph began, "The reason I'm getting in contact with you is because I want to run with Kari again!" She went on to tell me that she and several friends planned to drive out from Iowa and climb on my "Kari's Klimbers" team… If you know me, you can probably imagine how that made me feel!
Several months after we began emailing one another, Jenn read her poem, "In a Quiet Corner" to her church group. They coaxed her to write another poem and Jenn wrote "Talking to the Shadows."
I have the opportunity to speak to various groups about organ donation, and about Kari. Recently, I've started my presentations with Jenn's poem, "Talking to the Shadows". Both poems show me how much Kari loved her friends, and how very much they loved her.
From a Quiet Corner - By Jennifer Amendt ©2001
Talking to the Shadows - By Jennifer Amendt ©2004