I met Karen via email in Sept 2004, we discovered that we were both married to irish IT geeks called Alan who worked for UBS. We wondered if it was the same man!
She found me on one of the Zurich expat groups and sent me an email reaching out and offering a cuppa, well I was sold. Our "first date" was coffee and gossip and lunch at Cafe ernst, 24.09.2004 at 10am! During our first years in Zurich we shared cultural (mis)understandings, swapped books, Karen
11 years later, at latest count, we batted back and forth 326 emails, 87 calendar entries, a skype conversation from 2011, and many life and death conversations and experiences. We have lots in common - love reading, love photos, love laptops, love our nerdy husbands (both called Alan, both IT geeks, both used to work for UBS), love our kids, love our wine, love the swiss countryside.
Karen has been my family in Zurich. She supported me when I wasn't sure I was going to be able to have kids, rejoiced with me when I was pregnant, accompanied me to the Dr once when it was going a bit Pete Tong, visited me in hospital twice, visited sickly Patrick in the neo natal unit, and drove me and my babies home from hospital!
It's the little things. I remember cutting Markus' fingernails the first time at Karen's house and when I was still on maternity leave, she took Markus and I to the mountains and we took it in turns to push the bugaboo through snow drifts- that was a tough walk! When I was heavily pregnant with Patrick, Karen brought hubbie and family round to ours to build the new wardrobe, whilst she painted my toenails!
Karen designed and decorated two amazing Christening/Blessing cakes. As me boys grew up, both Claire and Fiona have babysat for us. The Youngs have witnessed my lunacy of doing 2 wintery swims across the Limmat and greeted me with mulled wine each time. Karen's home was always open to the boys and me, particularly at weekends, particularly when my Alan was busy with his MBA.
When I lost my mojo after going back to work after Patrick, Karen was the friend who gently asked me whether i was depressed, then kidnapped me and took me to the mountains for the weekend! When I turned 40, she conspired with Alan to get me to my surprise 40th birthday party at home!
For my part, I have watched her girls grow up from small girls, to grown up, intelligent, wonderful women!
Karen took a lot of photos for me, and every time I came round to hers, made sure I had liquid refreshment! My kids adore her and just follow her obediently!
I cannot say how much I will miss her. Karen, thanks for everything! Thanks for all our chats, all the advice, all the laughter, all the support.
Here's to a visit soon in the UK!