emily and karen

Karen’s Garden

“Grief is like the ocean, it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” – Vicki Harrison.

Karen Floyd had to do what no parent should ever have to do.

She had to say goodbye to her daughter.

Her daughter, Emily, was Campaign One At A Time’s second campaign child. She had already fought and beat cancer twice, but the third time could not fight any longer. She fought strongly and with a positive perspective.

Everyone that knew Emily keeps her warm personality alive by sharing her story, spreading her artwork, and aiding to her mother’s garden as a remembrance of Emily. Emily and her mother both loved to garden and add life to their backyard. Emily’s mom, Karen, refers to their garden as the “forgotten corner” that has been completely flipped into a beautiful charade of colors.

I greatly admire Karen for her willingness to spread her daughter’s story with such a passion and positive determination to keep Emily’s humble reputation afloat. She had started the garden transformation as a way to cope with her loss. But it has become much more than that.

It is now a garden filled with colors, flowers, trees, and many painted rocks. Each rock serves as a different memory of Emily; all painted by her friends, family, and anyone close to her.

Looking at the rocks gives you an overwhelming feeling of the joy and love everyone had for Emily and the impact she made on others.

In the garden, Karen has designed and built a sitting area that allows the view of Emily’s bedroom window. She explains how it is her way to smile every day and have a daily connection with Emily. Towards the end of her battle, Emily was no longer able to participate in the making of their garden, so Karen has made it her responsibility to finish the project. Working on it allows her to stay occupied and avoid dwelling on the loss, yet

Working on it allows her to stay occupied and avoid dwelling on the loss, yet still think of her every day. The garden became Karen’s coping mechanism with a positive purpose. She knew Emily was a very special girl and she needed to have something people could look at and smile at the thought of all Emily had accomplished and all the friendships she made along the way. Aside from the garden, Karen has created yet another way to keep Emily’s name and humble heart amongst those who knew Emily and had the ability to surround themselves with her upbeat and authentic personality.

Karen has started a fundraiser to gather funds for a high school scholarship in Emily’s name. Both Karen and her older children all graduated from the local high school, and they all looked forward to the day that Emily would graduate from the same high school as well. To keep Emily’s name in her graduating class, they have started the scholarship in her honor. In order to raise enough money for the scholarship, Karen has begun “flocking” local yards. Flocking consists of going to a chosen neighbor’s and friend’s home and placing a few flamingos throughout the yard. With the flamingos, there is paperwork giving information about the scholarship and notifying the resident they have been “flocked.” This allows Karen, Emily’s friends, and the community to have involvement in the fundraising process.

In order to raise enough money for the scholarship, Karen has begun “flocking” local yards. Flocking consists of going to a chosen neighbor’s and friend’s home and placing a few flamingos throughout the yard. With the flamingos, there is paperwork giving information about the scholarship and notifying the resident they have been “flocked.” This allows Karen, Emily’s friends, and the community to have involvement in the fundraising process.

Karen has taken the pain any other parent would struggle to get past, and found a positive way to cope and honor her daughter. I have never seen so much strength and perseverance in the heart of a mother. She has conquered the waves of grief and learned to swim amongst them in a way not very many can do. It was a pleasure meeting Karen and having the ability to see and hear of her journey. Emily’s story lives true to her personality and the positive imprint she left behind.

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