Personal Entries · Studio

What’s a Vaka?

One of the comments on yesterday’s post was this one, from Carla:

“What does Vaka mean anyways?”

That is a much deeper question than you might realize, but I will tell you, Grasshopper, and then you can be a Vaka master, too.

About seven years ago I became very sick for almost  a year and a half,  and I came close to dying on several occasions.   I made it through largely because of my women friends and their support,  particularly the support of my friends Karen and Valerie.

Because I’m stubborn and incredibly stupid, I insisted on finishing my degree while I was ill.  It made sense to me at the time; Mike and I were divorcing  after years of me being a stay at home mom, and I had no resources other than me.   I needed to finish my education so that I could begin to support the boys and myself, but attempting this while so ill made earning my degree harder, and probably prolonged and worsened the illness, as well.

Karen and Valerie supported me while my life fell apart and I tried to do too much.  They served as advocates with doctors, made decisions on medical care when I was unable to, they helped financially and have never allowed me to repay them.  They urged me to be gentler on myself and they sat with me while I melted down again and again because of the impossible, unreasonable weight on my shoulders; that which I had taken on, but also that which others had blithely handed over as well, knowing as they did so how sick I was.  They made themselves constantly available in the most selfless way, and most importantly, they loved and protected and cared for my children as if they were their own.  Because of Karen and Valerie’s decisions and actions,  my boys came through a horrific ordeal quite unscathed.   That was the greatest gift they gave me: my children’s well being.

Valerie and her beautiful family
My wonderful friend Karen

I’ve changed so much in the past few years as I’ve led my family forward, away from the divorce and illness.  I’ve become more me than I have been in a very long time.  I’ve become the cocky girl Valerie met when she was five, and I’ve become the woman Karen thought I was when she met me on the cusp of my illness.   They’ve been rooting for me all along.

So, grasshopper, the “Va” is for Valerie, and the “Ka” is for Karen.  Vaka  is named for the two women who stuck with me through the ugly, and ensured that I was here to be me and to start Vaka Design.  They are beautiful and smart and strong, and any success my business has belongs to them, too.

While Valerie and Karen were my bedrock and buttresses, there are others who loved me well, and who I wish were worked in, too:  Joan, Jill, Kristine, Amy.    They are precious and part of me, but Vakajojikram Design just isn’t as catchy.


12 thoughts on “What’s a Vaka?

  1. I love what you wrote, but that is a bad picture of me and Jim Bob. Of course there are no good pictures of me because I am the family Photographer. My children will not be able to find any pictures of me to show my grandchildren what I looked like. And there will be no pictures of me to display at my funeral. This is very sad for me.

  2. Well you just made cry! What a beautiful tribute to your gals! I thought I was one of the very few who had a special sisterhood, my gals are my extended family….hmmm what would we do without them!

  3. It’s been so good to see you get stronger and healthier over the last few years. I love you, Miss Katie — and those awesome boys, too. But not the damn cat.

  4. Oh Katie! Thank you! You made me cry darn it! I love your skinny white ass.

    Valerie (aka the Va in Vaka)

  5. Dear Katie,
    that’s a deeply touching story. It is rare and precious to have such wonderful friends (clearly shows that you yourself are much more than just a very talented artist 🙂

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