Sarah Stultz: Honor loved ones by emulating good they had

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2024

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Tuesday was my daughter Sophie’s birthday.

Born in 2008, she would have turned 16 this year.

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It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that this year she will have been away from us now as long as she was with us on earth. While my heart is still tender when I think of her death, I have tried to live my life in a way she would be proud of, and I know that I will see her again someday after this life.

I thought about her on Sunday when I found out that a missionary from our church who had served in Albert Lea when Sophie was still alive had passed away after a three-year battle with cancer. At the time of his death he was in his late 20s or early 30s and married with a young child.

When he was in Albert Lea, perhaps nine or 10 years ago, he had a giant personality, and our whole family loved him — especially the kids. He was fun and funny, but he was kind, too.

Sophie loved when he and his companion would come to visit our house for dinner, which we tried to do at least monthly.

I couldn’t believe it when I found out on social media that he was sick after he had gone home from his mission, and it was even more of a shock when I heard he had died.

He was one of those people that stuck out for the good and who left a lasting impact on our lives and several others in this part of the country.

As I think about his death along with that of my daughter this week, I am reminded that we never know when our time may come to leave this earth. It could be here in the blink of an eye. Are we living in a way that our families and friends will know we care about them if we left tomorrow? And are we living in a way we would feel proud about if we were told we only had one more day to live?

This week, I want to smile a little bigger and laugh a little longer as I think about Sophie and our friend.

I want to be a little kinder and speak a little softer and reach out to the friendless and the lonely just like they did.

I think the best way we can honor our loved ones who have gone on before is by emulating the good they left on our lives and pay that forward to others.

I can just see those two laughing up in heaven now.

“Although it’s difficult today to see beyond the sorrow, may looking back in memory help comfort you tomorrow.” — Unknown

“Tears are all right. They are the price we pay for love, care and compassion in the world.” — Jeffrey R. Holland

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