Renae with a Heart of Gold.


I was a tender 13 year-old when Renae died. She was approaching 8. She was my previous babysitter's child, and I had known her for several years. Renae had a hole in her heart (but no love ever leaked out of it). She was a blonde, blue-eyed girl with a heart of gold. Renae always knew that she could die at any time. It used to break my heart to watch her watch other kids play heartily, but she never complained. I can still see her blue lips.

The doctors were going to operate on her heart when she was 10, but they ended up doing it sooner. She died on the operating table. At 13, I blamed the doctors. If they hadn't of done the surgery early, she wouldn't have died. I can see how foolish I was.

One of the neighborhood bullies was the one who told me of Renae's death, because he was friends with her older brother. I didn't believe him. I was sure he was trying to torture me. I checked it out with other neighbors who were good friends of Renae's family, and it was true. I composed an epic-length poem to Renae's parents, and sent it to them. They had moved away not long before she died, which made it that much harder for me, because I couldn't go to the funeral, and see it was real.

I cried for years over Renae. I asked for help from my mother, and was told not to dwell on it (first time I asked). I had never lost anyone before, and hadn't a clue how to deal with death. My mother's mother died when she was 11. I suspect that she was told something similar, because she didn't have a clue either. Every time I cried about something in my life, for 8 years, I ended up crying for Renae too. As a young girl, I would look up at the clouds and play peek-a-boo with Renae. I talked to her too. I even planned to run away once, so I could see her actual gravesite, and know it was really true, rather than a cruel hoax the world was playing on me. Some day soon, I will leave flowers there.

I don't need to cry for Renae anymore. She's with God. There is nothing sad about that, except she's not here. I learned so much from that child. I have multiple sclerosis now, and when I remember Renae Michelle Treece, I know to live fully, every minute, whatever my condition, and I do! I hope that the suffering of her family has healed.

I would also like to honor the other people in my life who have died:

My sister-in-law, Melodie Ann Ollison, who was murdered in 1989.
My teacher, Mrs. Holliday, who was murdered years ago.
My grandparents, Giacomina and Sabino Simone.
My school chum, Brenda Judd, who was murdered when we were 14.
My school adversary, Carol Lum, who was murdered when we were 14.


You can send email to Adriana at [email protected]
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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW