The following is the eulogy I gave at the prayer service for Charity on January 21st, 1998:
My Dear Charity,
Where do I start? How do I begin a farewell when I still can’t believe you’re gone? How do I say goodbye to a part of my soul?
The day you were born I felt this indescribable love. One I had never known before. From the beginning of your life I never knew I could have a love that was so strong. When you were an infant I told people how great you were and they said, “Yeah, but wait until she is two.” When you were two I told people how great you were and they said, “Yeah, but wait until she is ten.” When you were ten I told people how great you were and they said, “Yeah, but just wait until she is 16.” And now you are 16 and I am telling people how great you are.
You came into my life and changed me forever. Over the years people have complimented me for being a good mother but I can’t take credit for that. You were born good and you were the one who was often teaching me. I believe you are an angel God sent to teach me. You taught me love. You taught me honesty. You taught me how to forgive and how to be strong. You are the strongest person I have ever known and you gave me strength when I was weak. When times were sad and tough I looked to you for strength. You taught me how to be myself. Most of all you taught me about life and how to live.
When you got sick and the doctors told me I should hold you back you taught me it was more important to feel and grow like any other child than to have me hide you under my wing. It was more important to live. And that you did. You danced so beautifully, for years. And then your greatest joy, cheerleading. You made me so proud. You have always been my greatest pride and joy. I’m not sure how I can live this life without you. Remember when you would cry and tell me you were so afraid because you didn’t want me to die before you. And I would tell you I wasn’t going to die. And remember me saying you couldn’t die before me, so we agreed, we had to go at the same time because neither of us could live without the other.
Why did you have to go? I feel you weren’t done with me yet. You have more to teach me, don’t you? Who’s going to tell me when I dress like an “old mom”? You always helped me so I didn’t look like a “nerd”. When you were gone for a weekend I would wait to buy something so I could get your opinion first. I knew you would be honest with me when I asked you how I looked. You always complimented me and made me feel better when I was down. At times, I think, our roles as mother and daughter were switched. You worried about me just as much as I worried about you.
It hurts so much, Charity. I will miss you. I’ll miss our camping trips, just you and me every Memorial Day weekend. I’ll miss you walking through that door and telling me about your day. I’ll miss going places with you, like Disneyworld and L.A. to visit your Aunt Lisa, and San Francisco, your favorite place in the whole world. I’ll miss your arms around me and your kisses. I’ll miss you calling me to tuck you in at night. “Love, lock doors, buckle up, drive safe, don’t scratch your knees, get your beauty rest, I’ll pray for you.”(1)
When we were driving back from the funeral home the other day it seemed so odd to me. Business’ were open and people were pumping gas and going on with their lives. For them life goes on but for me it felt like life had stopped. It felt like life came to a sudden stop on Sunday when I found you. When I touched your face and it was so cold. When I knew you were gone. It seemed that the world should have stopped because you left it.
But you and God had it all planned, didn’t you? He lent you to me for awhile to teach me all of these things. He waited until I learned them all before He called you back. He waited until you showed the doctors about the hole in my heart and with your courage and support helped me through the surgery and recovery.(2) He waited until I found Gary and we had our daughter, Summer, who you named. He waited until you could experience pregnancy and childbirth through me. He waited until Sunday morning, my favorite time of the week. He waited until you picked the day you let the angels take you home.
Charity, I miss you so much already and I don’t know if I can take this pain anymore. But then I think, how can I be sad when I know you’re in a better place. How can I be sad when you brought me so much happiness. How can I be sad when God is already working little miracles through you and bringing our family closer together. How can I be sad when I feel like the luckiest person on earth to have been chosen to be your mother. How can I be sad when God gave you to me for 16 glorious years. I will thank God every day for the time we shared together.
I was with you when we heard this next song for the first time. It was when you wanted me to go to a movie. You said, “Mom, this is suppose to be a good movie, it’s about two best friends, just like you and me.” I didn’t know what else it was about. The movie was “Beaches” and I kept saying to myself throughout the movie, “I hope this lady doesn’t die.” Charity turned to me when she found out the disease the lady had and it was cardiomyopathy and she said, “Mom, that’s the same thing I have.” I kept saying, “Please don’t let this lady die.” And we cried so hard because in the movie she died from the same disease as you . This song, “Wind Beneath My Wings” has always made me think of you and it says everything I feel and I have told you that several times.
Love always and forever,
(1) These are the words Charity and I would say to each other while giving the sign for “I love you” every night when she went to bed.
(2) In 1993 the doctors decided to do an echocardiogram on me to see if Charity’s heart condition may have been inherited. Unexpectedly it was discovered that I had an atrial septal defect which had been present since birth but had never been detected before. I was 32 at the time. My heart condition was totally unrelated to Charity’s cardiomyopathy. Because of the large size of the hole in my heart the doctors felt I was at risk for stroke or death and recommended I have an operation.