Remembrance of Faith

by Jack Altbush, Faith's great uncle

Marilyn, Jeffrey, Eric; family members and dear friends. We are gathered to bid our beloved Faith goodbye. Our minds are trying to grasp the thought of Faith’s life’s end and to absorb the realities of this tragedy.

Faith’s birth eight years ago was truly a miracle – the ultimate proof of courage and dedication and, above all, the faith that brought it about. Her joyful arrival was a blessing to us all; her place in our hearts assured. How can we be asked to understand – on any level – her being stricken with terminal illness? How can we ever reconcile ourselves to our loss of this loving, wonderful being?

Faith, from her very beginning, brought happiness and love into all of our lives. Every new gesture or word was greeted with admiration and affection. And as she continued in life, the sound of her voice, her laughter, her movements through the day’s adventures, were greeted with joy and pleasure.

The sudden onset of her tumor didn’t diminish her zest for life and curiosity in all things about her. She continued in her vital and vibrant ways until shortly before the end. Her courage and intelligence shone through her lengthy and arduous treatment regimen. She understood its purpose and underwent time-consuming procedures without complaint. She continued her schooling with her usual spirit and joy, and was welcomed daily by her classmates and teacher, whose thoughtful attention and nurturing care for Faith were a godsend to Faith and her family.

Although her life was suddenly cut short, our thoughts sweep back to her years with us, and the memories of this lively and happy child flood our thoughts. When the tiny baby was born, we waited anxiously for news and hoped for her survival. And survive she did, a vital individual right from the start who stole our hearts. She was the only girl in our family and we all doted on her. Her sense of humor was remarkable in one so young, and her giggle was memorable.

When she visited us as a toddler, we had no idea that this small person could talk, until Hannah, my wife, got ready to go out one day and Faith inquired, "Where is the gamma going?" Sweet and cooperative, she was nevertheless assertive, and she was not to be deprived of her favored possessions. Hannah found out about this the hard way during an uncomfortable trip when Jeff and she had forgotten to take Faith’s beloved blanket.

On this day, we are present at our last moments with her. How are we expected to deal with this heart-wrenching, numbing loss, with the sudden emptiness that leaves us searching for an answer to the hopeless questions and doubts in our minds? If there is to be an answer, it rests in our hearts and in the gift we are taking from our beloved Faith – the residue, the wealth of human memory of her life with us that is seared into our minds. It is this enormous gift all of us are taking from Faith’s many memorable moments that will comfort us in our hours of grief and pain. We shall also be comforted by the knowledge that she was enveloped with loving care and endless nurture by her loving family, teacher and friends, whose affection and devotion were understood and courageously welcomed by Faith in the last months of her life.

I conclude with an excerpt from an untitled poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay:

You go no more on your exultant feet
Up paths that only mist and morning knew;
Or watch the wind, or listen to the beat
Of a bird’s wings too high in air to view,
But you were something more than young and sweet
And fair, -- and the long year remembers you.