Looking at family photographs without your oldest child in them is something no parent wants to face. Rob and Katie Robertson lost their daughter, Karina, to cancer more than three years ago, and it set that scenario in motion, forever changing the snapshots of their lives.
Katie Robertson knew she wanted to write a book about her daughter’s life and the faith she showed through the journey she experienced.
“I chose ‘Anchored’ as the title because Karina was anchored in faith from the beginning,” Robertson said. “We all have storms to weather, and having an anchor helps.”
The idea that an anchor makes a cross as a symbol made the choice seem prophetic.
What Karina was taught as a toddler became the foundation for faith that held her family through the storm of illness and death.
“Karina had an amazing life in faith,” Katie said.
Katie Robertson met Caroline Timmins three years ago. She encouraged Katie to write, not through a therapeutic avenue, but to inspire people with how her family lived the foundation of the faith they taught while Karina was young, and the result of seeing Karina champion her faith until she died.
Robertson felt the writing process allowed her to highlight the impact religion has had on her family and the strength and perseverance they’ve gained through the loss of their daughter.
“Losing Karina was not the outcome we wanted as parents, but I can see how God is using our faith and belief that what God was doing was His way for His reasons,” Katie said. “Our job is to trust Him as ‘Father knows best.’ ”
Publishing consultant Mimmi Beck met Robertson two years ago. Beck has helped with post-production details and with marketing the book. Their relationship turned from one based on work to friendship.
“The message of the story and dedication,” Beck said. “I admire Katie. This is an inspirational book that goes beyond the tragedy of losing a child, but how taking time as a parent to teach family values and faith is important.”
The story highlights the importance of being deliberate as a parent, Beck said. Each day goes by so quickly and is filled with daily tasks and opportunities to provide for your children.
“Karina’s life shows the importance of taking time to teach the values you want your child to have at an early age,” Beck said.
“Many times parents think they are too young, but when I was faced with time to reflect when my mom got cancer, I didn’t talk to my kids as much, thinking they wouldn’t understand,” she said. “Katie talked to Karina about the life and death through the foundation of their faith.”
Katie wrote and complied the book in the past three years. She met her goal of finishing in April for the third anniversary of Karina’s death.
The family released “Anchored” with a benefit dinner to honor Karina. Grammy-winning Christian music artist Brandon Heath, who previously met Karina in Malibu, a Young Life camp in Canada, wrote the foreword and attended the event.
“This book is about bright, beautiful memories, focusing on what they all loved, not on the unfairness and pain of the cancer,” Beck said. “The beauty and joy of Karina’s life shines through in the story with the pair’s positive response to tragedy.
“A month before Karina died, Karina created a collage, and it was all the colorful things she loved in life,” Beck said.
Beck sees the collage as epitomizing the positive approach Karina took on her journey through the illness.
The book contains prayer journals, scrapbook pages and family artwork, allowing an insight into the relationship with Karina’s sister, Annika, her brother, Eric, and family life. Robertson included ideas for grieving for parents.
The book is available at Dightmans and on Amazon.com.
Katie has done book signings, fundraisers and speaking engagements at churches. She hopes to speak at more schools and at women’s retreats to spread the story and message of hope and faith.
She started a women’s ministry last year called Anchored. The non-denominational group is open to anyone who would like to attend.
“Anchored is the chosen name women can be in a safe place to regroup,” Katie said. “It’s women anchored in faith and friendship.”
The group will meet at the nedshed at Arabella’s Marina on Oct. 9, Nov. 14 and Dec. 12.
Katie said cross-country running helps her with the emotional side of life. It helps her with the grieving process and offers time to reflect, she said.
Robertson also wants her book to inspire parents and show them that teaching faith and family values matters.
Part of the proceeds for the book will go toward the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.Lifestyles Coordinator Kim Eibel can be reached at 253-358-4152 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter, @gateway_kim.