Sarah Stultz: Cherish memories of loved ones this holiday

Published 9:42 am Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

It hit me like a brick wall last week while at storytime with my son, Landon.

Since my daughter, Sophie, died almost five months ago, I have heard over and over again that the holidays will likely be a challenging time for our family, as we celebrate this wonderful time of year without our loved one.

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As Albert Lea Public Library’s children librarian Patty Greibrok  painted colors on Landon’s hand  to make a turkey, my mind raced back to last year at this time when we were there with Sophie.

Sophie loved to read and would always express excitement any time I asked her if she would like to go to the library.

Over the years, I tried to take her and Landon to the library as much as I could. Not only do I believe that learning to read is a crucial skill to be learned, but I saw how much Sophie and Landon always loved attending. What more could you ask for than an educational, fun and free activity?

As time went on and Sophie grew older, she would gather her books to check out and start reading them while seated next to me, while Landon would be the one participating more. Sometimes she would still chime in, though many of the activities are typically geared toward younger children. 

We still have a butterfly she painted from one of her last storytimes hanging on our refrigerator.

The art projects the children make at storytime each year the week before Thanksgiving usually ended up being my decorations in the house for the holiday.

As Patty painted Landon’s hand this year to make a brown turkey with colored feathers, I did my best to stay composed, but I knew the tears were not far behind.

When he was finished, I tried to quickly clean him up and make our way out of the building.

Memories, such as the ones from storytime, though small, spark a lot of emotion — and I never know quite when those emotions will strike.

Different things at different times remind me of her, and I’m sure it will be this way for a long time — if not always. It could be a song, a place, an experience — and it could be different things on different days. 

These art projects bring back happy memories, and for that reason I will always cherish both  them and the people who helped make them happen.

This afternoon, I hope to go to the basement and find Sophie’s turkey from last year and bring it up to display with the one Landon made this year.

As I celebrate Thanksgiving this year — though painful — I am thankful for these memories, and for all of the family, friends and community members who will continue to lift us up during this time of year.

I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Tuesday.