Moments, Finding the Spirit of Hope
by Carol C. Poduch
following is a representative story from Carol's book:
Planning a funeral service for your 9-year-old is something
none of us ever plan to experience. Linda may be our minister,
but for this undertaking she was virtually our savior.
She seemed to just "know" how to interpret our
hopes and desires to make this a "kid friendly"
event. Our motto was that if Lauren wouldn't have liked
it or understood it, it didn't belong in the service.
Linda, the mother of three girls herself, arrived at our
home on a Sunday afternoon to plan the "Celebration
Service" for Lauren. We were numb. She laid out the
plans that included lots of children's hymns, select youth
of the church to sing and the grand finale, Viva Forever,
by the Spice Girls, was to be played. If you haven't had
the opportunity, read the words to this song, do so. It
gives a renewed sense of everlasting life. Additionally,
we planned to supply markers and helium balloons for messages
to be written and released. None of the food had any redeeming
nutritional value. Lauren would have liked that! Somehow
the ladies of our church just appeared with the food.
To this day I have no idea how this happened. As our meeting
with Linda concluded on this tear-stained, mind-numbing
day, she asked if we'd like to have any passages read.
In truth, neither Tony nor I were what you'd call biblically
oriented at the best of times. In this, the worst of times,
we drew a blank.
day wore on. The family had all arrived from around the
country. The doorbell rang constantly marking the arrival
of fresh flowers, casseroles, fruit plates, breads, and
veggie and sandwich platters. All were gratefully accepted.
The house was buzzing. Anyone, who has ever been in this
situation, knows that it is nigh on to impossible to sustain
sanity in these moments. A peaceful retreat was all I
could handle. I tried to breathe through the day moment
by moment. In the late afternoon, I stole away to my bedroom.
Here I closed my eyes and tried to make some sense of
life. As I opened my eyes, Tony stood before me with a
dumbstruck look on his face. He handed me a kid's diary
and asked that I read through to the last page. It seemed
that he had been drawn into Lauren's room. He knew he
was looking for something, but had no idea what it was.
looked in her closet and drawers. He'd shuffled through
her numerous treasured collections. You know the type
of thing, pennies, pretty rocks collected on family trips,
baseball cards and so on. Nothing felt right. He was looking
for something, something specific! But what? His attention
turned to her beloved books. He scanned the bookshelf.
There he noticed the diary. Neither of us had been aware
that Lauren had kept a diary. The first few pages were
written kid style, with words jammed together on the page.
Misspelled words had been sloppily crossed out. She had
dated each of her entries and added her age, which provided
an interesting chronological snapshot of her life. As
I read, I discovered numerous treasured entries about
school projects, pets, doubts regarding continuing with
piano lessons, a new love of soccer and such. It was her
last entry, though, that took my breath away. As a bit
of background, you need to know that my father had died
18 months before we lost Lauren. He was 82 when he died.
As fate would have it he happened to leave us on my birthday,
January 19th, in 1998. He had been just "the best"
grandpa (and dad for that matter) ever. We all missed
him. Here, neatly written on every other line with no
spelling errors we found the following offering from Lauren:
27th, 1999, 9 years.
don't know why, but ever since my grandpa died I've been
praying to God every night. I really miss my grandpa and
I hope someday when I die I go to heaven, too. There is
one letter that I wrote to my grandpa that never got sent.
I'm sad. I wish that grandpa was still alive and got the
letter and he wrote back saying he loved me, and he will
always love me. When I die I want to be in heaven with
grandpa, Mom (Carol Poduch), Dad (Tony Poduch), Maya,
Mandy, Belle, Kim, Kiwi, and all of my belongings and
last but not least, grandma.
you, Lauren Poduch U!"
the lighter side, as we read this, we laughed at our names
in parenthesis, as though she had somehow wanted God to
be crystal clear with respect to her parentage. Not taking
any chances on the important stuff! Kim seemed to rank
somewhere below our two family dogs (Belle and Maya) and
Lauren's goldfish (Mandy). She did surpass the budgie
(Kiwi) though, a fitting spot at a time in Lauren's life
when jealousy of the big sister seemed inevitable.
poignantly, this was the last thing Lauren ever wrote
in her journal, six weeks before her death. Naturally,
this became our reading at the service to celebrate her
short life. Many mourners present that day laughed and
cried as they listened to her words being read. We sat
in wonderment, trying to ascertain where this prognostic
entry had come from. Nightly prayers had never been a
part of our family routine. What was it that made Lauren
start to pray? Did she know in some recessed part of her
being what was to befall her? As a family we had never
discussed nor told Lauren that grandpa was in heaven.
That just wasn't a part of our vernacular at the time.
Why did she assume such? None of her other journal entries
had ended with a "Thank You". Who, exactly,
was she thanking?* All of her other entries were reporting
and reflecting on the facts of her life. This entry dealt
with a different topic altogether. Lauren appeared to
be pondering her place in eternity at the ripe old age
of nine. She was also thinking about God's role in her
life and, it would seem, without much guidance from us,
praying to him/her. Why did she do this? Most importantly
she was thinking and writing of her own death. Imagine!
How many nine-year-olds do you know who explore these
topics in the privacy of their own thoughts?
wonder if you are beginning to unravel the deep, special
message we received from our nine-year-old via her diary.
Answering the above questions is a personal journey. I
leave it to each of you to ponder, in your hearts and
minds, what your answers would be.
for us, we know with our entire minds, bodies and souls,
how to answer these questions. Lauren left us an amazing
clue regarding her fate. She guided Tony to a piece of
the puzzle that has brought our family and friends great
peace. We love you honey, always and forever. I couldn't
have said it better, Viva Forever.
*Footnote: Shortly after writing this article, I had a
seemingly related experience. While reading "Ask
Your Angels" authored by Alma Daniel, Timothy Wyllie,
and Andrew Ramer, a passage caught my eye. These authors
provide detailed instructions regarding how we can all
reportedly experience angels in our daily lives. They
note that when people are transcribing messages received
directly from their angels, it is a common courtesy to
end the passage by writing "Thank You". So did
Lauren receive a message from her angels? In truth, I
have absolutely no idea. I do know this though, as I contemplate
where Lauren's "Thank You" came from, I find
the Spirit of Hope.
2007 Carol Poduch. All rights reserved
Not to be reproduced without written permission from the
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