“Her love, laughter and generosity will be missed by all” was written on the front of her memorial. She was 22. She was radiant and the kind of beautiful that made it difficult for you to take your eyes away from her. I had the urge to hug her every time she was in my presence because even more beautiful than her outside was her lovely heart, soul and spirit. She was a giver, a peacemaker, calm, gentle, kind and sweet-natured. She was independent and intelligent.
But, she had a hidden sadness that she worked hard not to show. She had pains and wounds that no one understood.
This weekend my sister, Katie, husband, Noel, son, Will and I hiked to her memorial through woods to a running river bed with huge stones covered in rose petals and tulips. The site of her memorial was where her father first took her when she was ten and became one of her favorite hiking, fishing, and dog playing spots. My family was one of a handful invited beyond her immediate family for we loved her dearly and deeply. We arrived early and helped her mom and best friend with last-minute details.
Her mother asked my son Will to climb a tree and nail a sign that said “Bee Crossing” for she loved bumblebees. She loved them so much that she had a bumblebee tattooed on her alabaster skin. As Will drilled the sign into the tree, a bee appeared out of nowhere and buzzed between his legs. We exclaimed loudly with surprise “There’s a bee!” But, there were details to finish so we quickly moved on.
As all the family gathered by the river, the memorial started with her father reading the opening prayer, Romans 8:18-31. Her mother read a poem, “I made it home.” Her best friend who starred in a popular children’s show with her as a child actress sang a song she wrote, “(See you on) The Other Side.” We took turns spreading her ashes in the river and each shared a story of her from the time she was a little girl until the present. The amount of love she received and the amount of love she gave in her life was immense. There were lots of tears, but more laughter and joy. There was awe in the air at her generosity and gentle yet mischievous and inquisitive spirit. While only 22, it was noted several times that she was an old soul.
During a time of great laughter at a story told about her, a fat, furry, noisy, bright yellow and black bumblebee landed on a little picture line that held photos from her life. The bumblebee landed right behind my son, who was talking about how amazing and remarkable she was. We all just stopped and looked at the bee who stayed long enough for us to see its beauty then it majestically and noisily flew away. We were as a group spellbound by the “God wink” and the loveliness of that gift.
Her Nana ended the memorial with a moving and memorable prayer she wrote. The answer to “Why? Why? Why?” we knew we would never understand. Her Nana said one of the last things she told her was Jesus had her name written in the palm of His hand. She said, I know now she is free.
August 31, 2019, was International Overdose Awareness Day, a global event that aims to raise awareness that overdose death is preventable and to reduce the stigma associated with drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends who have lost someone to a drug overdose.
Thousands of people die each year from a drug overdose. They come from all walks of life. For more information, go to www.overdoseday.com.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato
NOEL WILKERSON HOLMES is the Publisher/Managing Editor of the Pleasanton Express. You may E-mail her at email@example.com.