2007 Valentine Day Tribute by Vanessa Lorentzen
Prior to knowing Treasure Ann Schneider; Valentines Day was always a special day for me, just because it seemed like a fanciful day in which the heart could lead. No heavy obligation to “get it right”, as there can be with other holidays. No great pressure to negotiate a ritual, just the fun of deciding who to surprise with a Valentine. Best of all…the old adage, “It’s the thought that counts”, seemed to be valid. A store-bought Valentine and a home-made Valentine are all met with the same excitement, since all Valentines seem to be like fireworks…which delight and dazzle, without disappointment.
I would love to go into all the ways I have expressed my joy and surprised my “favorite people”, but the real aim of this message will be my reflections on how a very dear little girl spent her last Valentines Day, which in fact ended up being her very last day on the earth. If you have read my funeral tribute, you are familiar with the details of the Treasure Ann story; which only serve to strengthen my faith and keep me focused on the “right path”. But few know the story of her last couple days.
The days leading up to Valentines Day were like all the other crazy, mixed-up painful days that Treasure had been experiencing. Strange how she didn’t notice how crazy things were. Strange how she didn’t realize how mixed-up her days had become…no sleep at night, with the exception of ten minute intervals which could happen either night or day…bathing several times a day…ordering food, never really eating it…needing to use the potty, never being able to go, this is the life of a very sick person, no matter what age you are. It was especially hard to watch a 6 year old experience it. Yet I often ask myself “What was she experiencing?” In spite of all the constant care and the comfort measures we took; her mind was still bent on the tasks at hand. Creating artwork for family members and interacting with the people she loved.
Because Treasure’s body was in such a terrible state of decay, she was completely house bound those last days. Fluid had built up in her body and was “third-spacing” from place to place, her cells acting like a sieve. Her abdomen appeared to house a large watermelon, which was just more water, but it made it difficult to be comfortable in any situation and like a mini-pregnant woman her balance was off when walking. Still, she would sit up and work on art projects and try to function at whatever was at hand.
About a week before the 14th, she would ask her Dad daily when the two of them would be going to buy Valentine presents. I still squirm at the memory of the question…what would a dad say? “Ummmm…take a look at your self?” Her clothes barely fit, her coat didn’t button, her shoes wouldn’t stay on…as “petite” as she was there would be no way to fit that engorged body into a cart. Walking around a store would be out of the question. Surviving at home was barely an option! Somehow Treasure didn’t see that life was hard. In answer to her daily question…her dad would reply; “soon”.
Finally the day BEFORE Valentines Day arrived. That morning Treasure looked into her dad’s face, with a very meaningful look, she said in an adult tone; “You’re not going to take me shopping; are you?” The statement was out. While this tribute is not about Dave, the dear dad in the hot seat, a person can’t help but devote two lines to the facts about him. No dearer father could have been in charge that day. No sweeter dad could have faced the plea. Knowing this, dear reader, you will not be surprised at what happens next.
He got her ready the best he could. The whole time I wondered how in the world he would manage, and soon he and she were off for the store. Partners in Crime…that is, if love is a crime. If love be a crime…they would be the two criminals…the Bonnie & Clyde of Valentines Day. If I remember right they hit the Osco at Gateway mall to do their “lovey-dovey” deeds. Dave had to carry her throughout the shopping ordeal in which she picked out some very lovely and thoughtful presents and cards for parents, the “bruvers” (brothers) and grandparents. Let’s not forget her discriminating taste…and how heavy she must have been. I remember wondering what in the world the other shoppers were thinking that day as they did their “last minute” buying, and how the sales clerk reacted to the sight of a child so visibly ill at her check-out. Could they see the truth? They were witness to pure love.
Oh the look of glee on the little face when arriving home with the “booty”. Seemingly un-tired she began embellishing all her “gifts” with her own work and loving thoughts. She worked that day and the following day, which was Valentines Day on perfecting her choices…which included an Elvis Valentine for her Grandma Dena. As I have said, she had her ideas about what people needed, and I remember feeling very touched by her choices which really were very tasteful and mushy…and then made even mushier by her own sentiments. Spend a couple minutes imagining a world in which all the inhabitants were as captivated by love. If you are saying “wow”…I think you got it.
My first attempt to write a tribute about Treasure centered on the things she taught me, (old sage and living expert that she was at age 6,) and I guess this piece is really no different. None of us were guessing that Valentines Day was her final day. The end signs we expected were just not there. In fact, she seemed like her old self in many ways, and a secret thought passed my mind before I left her that day…maybe this is a miracle. Maybe…she is on the mend.
The 13th and 14th seemed like one big “great” day to me. I had been there overnight and witnessed the memorable Valentine events. It was break time, but I hated to leave. Dave urged; “You go out to supper with Tim.” So I left the little beauty in all her lady like glory munching on a Egg McMuffin that I had warmed up for her. Her little eyes were beaming as she sat with her dad, and munched like a little chipmunk. I was surprised by the scene before me…a girl with an appetite, and a look of accomplishment and a dad curled up and ready to take a deserved rest as they watched TV. I left with confidence that I would be back to hold her again, read her a story, cook her something she wanted.
Less than two hours later I got the call. Treasure had died of a massive heart failure. Or did she? Seems to me, her heart was operating at an optimum. Yes, I will have to maintain that her heart was in the right place. Sadly, for us, her spirit moved on to that same place, leaving her earthly shell empty. Now she was abiding in a Heavenly Place; where all the inhabitants live without guile.
I read a quote the other day which I thought was SO true and SO Treasure Ann…”The greatest gift we can give one another is rapt attention to one another's existence”. How true! It’s a strange Holiday to celebrate, when you consider that this little girl is no longer with us and we miss her…but yet her example was to “live” and to celebrate people! Her example was to “embrace” and enjoy! So each year I do that. I do all the things that I know she would be doing. I give rapt attention to the significant people in my life. She would be proud!
Now it has been 5 years since she has passed on from glory to Glory. Her memory and her example are as vivid to me as they were then. 5 years is like a vapor…soon it will be 20…then more. I miss her. And I am thankful for her life. Her short, let full life was a message in a bottle; short, sweet, memorable.
I intend to remember the message.
~Written to give tribute, on this day; 2-14-2007. The 5 year anniversary of our loss.