People often talk about some profound moments that changed their life. So far I have never experienced one, but that changed yesterday when we attended Karin’s funeral in Minneapolis. All this while when Karin was approaching death, all I was telling myself was that when the moment actually comes I want to be present there. God willing, that happened and we made it to the funeral. Before leaving for the funeral I checked out Karin’s caring bridge site (https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/karintreiber/) one last time and the outpouring of love and affection for her as well as the entire Treiber family was very moving. I thought about how amazing it is that this tiny slender woman has been able to touch the hearts of so many different people who spoke different languages, came from different parts of the world and on the surface looked and behaved a lot more differently than she did.
The minute we entered the church to attend the service, we knew this was not a mourning, it was a celebration of the person that Karin was and was happening the way Karin wanted it to be. There were some neatly made collages of Karin the teacher, the friend, the traveler, the wife, the mentor and the Rotarian – all of which had one thing in common – her smiling face. There was a bigger collage that had all the experiences that people had shared on the caring bridge site. Everyone had a different story yet it was so similar in the sense that each of them had been moved in some or the other by Karin. We then walked into the church to meet Bob and there he was with his trademark wide grin, thanking us for coming down and introducing us to his entire family. He sure was living up to his wife words of making this a celebration. He said all the love that people had showered on them in the past few days had created a bubble that was letting his carry on this ceremony. As I looked at her peaceful figure in the casket and how extra-ordinarily beautiful the church looked with all the flower arrangement and at all diverse people who had come to celebrate her, tears just flowed through my eyes. I missed her in the moment, her laughter, her warmth and her charm. That’s when I knew that even in death she would make sure that she taught us a thing or two about living.
I was wondering how someone could really capture Karin’s life for everyone present there but the pastor made the job easy for everyone that followed. He said Karin was the tiny horn with the big voice. She was our very own Mother Teresa. She selflessly cared for people around her and across national boundaries. All of her mentees will vouch for the fact that it was because of her encouragement that they are where they are today. She has a total of 21 PHD students graduate under her, visitors from 80 different countries visited her and a lot of others benefited from her acts of charity at the Rotary and the church . However she valued service to the Lord about everything else. She was a constant learner in life, asking questions, constantly curious and at the same time valuing each and every moment in her life.
Right then I knew that I had met a saint and I only wish that I had more time to spend with her.
Listening to the songs interspersed with the eulogies I realized why I so passionately wanted to be there. It was because I wanted to hear people talk about Karin and her life. I wanted to see if I can pick a drop from the ocean of love that she spread around and not be the self-centered person that I am right now. Bob, Paul, David and her friends talked about how much Karin had given to them both in life, through the process of dying and now in death. She had set the bar really high and as Paul mentioned if she was here today she would say there is no bar, just keep the bar pushing.
Karin’s life was not about power or material means. It was not a process of aggregation, it was a process of giving . The lesson that she taught us all was that only by making your life an outpouring of love can you really live life in its truest sense. I want all of us to remember that there was one amongst us who managed to live such an exemplary life and that it might indeed be possible for us to live up to the example that she set.