Monday, March 17, 2008

Mother's Tribute to her daughter

“Left to Blossom”
A Mother’s Tribute to her Daughter
“Left to Blossom” is also the title of a film Renee co-produced
while studying at Capilano College

I am quite sure that everybody who is here would rather be doing something else, but you came because either you knew Renee, or her family including Niki. Last night, I was feeling very overwhelmed about the whole thing and I was wondering why we had ever thought that this was a good idea. We will get through it somehow. It would help if it wasn’t be too long and drawn out.

It would have been a lot more fun to visit Renee than to have this memorial service. Coming to Renee’s beloved Vancouver and Renee not being here feels very wrong. But I feel like she is saying to me: “Mom, it is okay. I want you to enjoy a cup of good coffee and I want you to enjoy shopping and eating at some of the many wonderful places along The Drive. It is okay for you to love Vancouver, because I loved it so much.” It’s like she is saying, “It’s okay, because I am now in a place that is much more beautiful, more beautiful than you can imagine. I am with Jesus now and with Kris and Jason. There is no pain here, and no tears. Don’t you just wish you could be here too?” “Yes, Renee, I do, but it’s not my time yet.” “It is okay, Mom, you just keep doing what God wants you to do.” “Okay, Renee, I want to do what I can to proclaim the message of hope.”

One of the things that I feel God wants me to do is to let go of the pain. After Kris and Jason died, I felt like I needed to hang on to my pain. It was as if the pain was all I had, and if I would let go of the pain, I would have nothing left. I was trying to find comfort in my pain. In that case, pain can take the place of God. God wants us to find comfort in Him. That doesn’t mean the pain will go away. It will still be there, ebbing and flowing through everything we do. I don’t want to be consumed by it.

We experienced many answers to prayer and we experienced God’s presence with us every day during those four months in New York. Thank you to all of you for holding Renee and us up in prayer. God made it so evident to us that He is a God of comfort and that He cares. But we have to always remember that we can’t measure the love and goodness of God by our circumstances, but by the cross.

I am the mother of six children, three who are walking with us on this earth and three who are soaring with the angels in heaven. I already mentioned Kris and Jason. Kris went to be with Jesus, after being in and out of the hospital for three years. That was back in ’77. Eighteen months later, Jason also went to be with Jesus when he was only 8 months old. The three that are still with us, are Renee’s brother Justin, and her two sisters, Alayna and Karalee. I feel honored to be the mother of this beautiful, unique family.

We are here today to remember the life of Renee, the third one of the three in our family that soars.

Renee was in New York for a total of ten months, since she was first diagnosed with leukemia on June 26, 2005. It was my privilege as her mother to be there for Renee, on this journey. It was so hard to see her suffer, but I will always treasure this time we had together. Renee’s enthusiasm and joy in living affected me very deeply. During this time I was with Renee in New York in ’05, where she was treated for the leukemia, Renee told me that she was sure glad she had been born!

The title for this tribute is “Left to Blossom”. It seemed like a fitting title. It is the title of a short film Renee co-produced while studying at Capilano College. A song that was sung at both of the memorial services for our first two was about “blooming forever in the Master’s bouquet.”

Renee, the first of our three daughters was born on March 18, 1984. After being with us for 24 years minus 3 weeks, Renee left us on February 26 to continue blossoming in heaven. The photo birth announcement card we made when Renee was born said, “There is a little bit of heaven beneath our roof”.

The name we chose for that little bundle of joy was Renee Amaryah Lalani – Renee is French for “Born Again”, Amaryah is Hebrew for “God has promised” and Lalani, a Hawaiian name meaning “heavenly flower”. There seems to be a bit of a heavenly theme going here. In my baby name book, for the name Leilani, of which Lalani is a variant, it says, “Was it the wild ginger blossom or bird-of-paradise flower for which this girl was named?” (For the memorial services in Manitoba, we chose wild ginger and bird-of-paradise without realizing the significance. I can only explain it as the leading of the Holy Spirit.)

Renee, we will always remember you, sometimes with tears, but also with lots of smiles, for all the beauty and joy you brought into our lives.

I’m so grateful for all the wonderful memories we have of Renee and for all the people that had a part in her life.

Renee always packed as much as possible into every day. “Much to say, and much to see, On the go dear, child of three”. Those are the words on the little bell we gave to Renee on her third birthday. It was almost scary at times. Renee loved going to camp. She would go to as many camps as possible in one summer: Beaver Creek Bible Camp, horsemanship camp, and music camp. Trying to fit family time into her busy schedule was rather difficult.

Renee, I’m so thankful that you loved Jesus, our God and Savior with all your heart, soul and mind, serving Him in whatever capacity you could, working at camp, teaching Sunday School and being a youth leader. I am glad that you decided to do the DTS with YWAM after graduating from high school and later being on staff at the Vancouver base. I’m so very happy that you got to go Jordan and Greece, an outreach with YWAM, and that you were obedient to God’s calling to join the WAVE USA.

But why Renee did not get to do all fifty states, we will never know. On account of being diagnosed with leukemia when the WAVE USA team was in Cleveland, Ohio. Renee only made it to twenty six states.

Renee, I’m so thankful that you were in remission for two years, although if you would never have relapsed that would have been even better.

I’m glad that you could study film production at Capilano and you got to work in the industry for a few months. You would have loved to continue, and some day start your own business, to produce all those films you dreamed about, but the devastating leukemia came back.

It was very special that I could be there for Renee in New York during treatments for six months in ’05 and now during her last four months, even although the circumstances sucked.

Renee, I’ll always cherish those ten months we had together, doing things together when you felt up to it, whether it was going to art museums, to the park, or going out to eat at some of the many wonderful restaurants, enjoying all that yummy ethnic food, or watching movies together and countless hours of TV. And I will also always cherish all those conversations you and I had.

It was a joy to cook for Renee, although there where many days after chemo, when she did not know what she was hungry for or was just not able to eat at all. But once her appetite was back, I got to make those delicious dishes she requested. As a result of her taste for ethnic food, I ended up with quite the collection of herbs and spices. Cooking our last Christmas dinner together, never once thinking that it would be our last, will always be a very special memory.

Renee was quite passionate about coffee. Apparently that is what happens if you live in Vancouver. So thanks to Renee, I am now also somewhat of a coffee snob.

Renee, I’m so happy that on my birthday, just two weeks before you were promoted to glory we could go out to a Persian restaurant, to enjoy the world’s oldest cuisine and that we could walk to Central Park together in the snow, one of the few snow days we had all winter in New York. That you were feeling well enough to do this was the most special birthday gift I could have ever wished for.

Renee talked her dad into getting an iPod for me for my birthday. Thank you, Renee, and thank you so very much for uploading all those songs by your favorite artists for me. Listening to those songs now, helps me to understand even better your passions, beliefs and desires. You will be happy to know, that I am actually starting to appreciate Jason Upton, now that I can understand the words better.

And Renee, thanks a million for the CD you made for me before Christmas with some of your favorite worship music.

These songs have been such a blessing to me and that CD will always be one of my most treasured possessions.

We played that CD over and over again on Renee’s last day while we were waiting for her sisters to arrive. But Renee could not hang on long enough, because their flight was delayed. I’m so glad that Renee’s brother was there, because he had not seen Renee since she went back to New York.

I’m so sorry, Renee, that I could not do more for you. I feel like I let you down. I felt so helpless, so sorry you relapsed and had to go back to New York, and sorry that you had leukemia in the first place, sorry that you were born with the Severe Combined Immunodeficiency. Sorry that you got the lung infection. Sorry that you had to get more chemo.

Renee, I’m so sorry that we had to say good-bye to you so soon. The tears are about us, about our pain in losing a precious daughter, a loving sister, a wonderful friend, cousin, granddaughter and niece.

To know that Renee impacted so many people in her short time on this earth brings me comfort.

And God is the God of all comfort.

We may never know the answer to our many whys and what-ifs, but we need to trust in God’s love, as Renee did. As a result of her suffering, Renee came to the conclusion that it was not so much about the answers, as it was about the questions.

We prayed and asked lots and lots of people to pray. We trusted God and hoped that this upcoming transplant was going to be successful, as was the first one Renee had when she was four months old and Renee would be able to continue with her mission of serving God “To mobilize the church into missions, and to see truth proclaimed through the arts”.

For reasons we do not understand this was not to be. Renee was spared from further suffering and she is now in the place where we all want to be, a place with no more tears and no more pain.

I know Renee does not want to be remembered as the girl with cancer, but as a woman with a passion for justice and peace, a heart for the less fortunate, proclaiming a message of hope. Her visit to Cambodia where she saw so much pain inspired her to get the Cambodian word for hope tattooed on her ankle. Renee’s life was a good example of what it means to serve the truth of the gospel.

I’m praying that many will step forward to carry on the work that Renee wanted to do for God.

Renee, I know you could have done a much better job of writing this, but I did the best I could. If you had edited it, you would probably have cut out at least one third of it. So now this is your mama saying, “See you later, Renee. I love so very much. We all love you and will all miss you terribly much.
Give Kris and Jason lots of hugs from me and of course Jesus too. I’ll be with you again some day.”

“Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King.” I am looking forward to that day when the King will return, “when those who have died will rise from their graves and then together with them, we who remain on earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with Him forever. So comfort and encourage each other with these words.”

Please take a copy of The Living LifeLight with you tonight to share with someone who needs it. I took the picture on the cover in Central Park NYC during one of my many meditation times there in 2005 during Renee’s 1st hospitalization.

Thank you so much for coming.

When He cometh, when He comethTo make up His jewels,All His jewels, precious jewels,His loved and His own.
Like the stars of the morning,His brightness adorning,They shall shine in their beauty,Bright gems for His crown.
He will gather, He will gatherThe gems for His kingdom;All the pure ones, all the bright ones,His loved and His own.
Little children, little children,Who love their Redeemer,Are the jewels, precious jewels,His loved and His own.
Monique called Renee a multi-faceted diamond. She was a daughter, sister, friend, cousin, a passionate leader, and she showed various facets of her strength to different people. We appreciate hearing the facets of the diamond you saw in her.

I saw her as very intelligent, compassionate, artistic, organized, etc. She used both sides of her brain, while never drawing attention to herself. She wanted everyone to learn to appreciate her Savior and Lord, Jesus.

What can you do to further her ministry? What can we do? Print her pictures in a book? Her writings? Your tributes?

No comments:

Post a Comment