Thinking about Amber’s story and how to share it with 129aDay was difficult. I am sure you all understand the emotions involved in putting this together. As I thought, I recalled Amber’s funeral service in Pittsburgh, PA. Her grandfather and her cousin (my daughter) both spoke wonderful words during the service and I felt this would be the best way to share Amber’s story.
Below is what my daughter Gianna (12 years old) wrote. She stood and delivered this to everyone at Amber's funeral service. Savannah (Gianna’s sister/Amber’s cousin) stood up at the podium to read a scripture with her Aunt Nina (Amber's Mom). I am so proud of all of them.
Amber was like a sister to me. We had so much fun together from gymnastics competitions to dancing. I loved her so much. I loved how we were close cousins. And I will always remember all the fun we had. I am gonna miss her alot. I want for everyone in this room to remember that she is looking down at us. One more thing--in heaven she is with Blaze. She used to dress up with him and get their picture taken.
Amber’s grandfather delivered a beautiful eulogy after Gianna spoke, here is what he said:
Where do I begin? I feel like a bird with a broken wing. God only allowed us to have Amber for a short period of time but during that time she touched many lives and left us with a lot of memories. To me, she was both a child and a grandchild; the two could never be separated. She brought the joy of a grandchild and the anxiety of a child all at one time. Amber came into my life as a toddler and those good memories will remain with me forever.
I thank God for putting Amber in my life and I am thankful that I got to see her grow from a helpless little girl into a beautiful young lady. Amber was a big part of my life for the last twenty plus years. I was blessed to have known her for most of her time on Earth. I’m sure that Amber has left all of you with a lot of good memories and I hope that you share those memories with me and with each other some time.
Amber liked being the center of attention when she was in her comfort zone, but would hide when that comfort zone began to collapse. She dreamed of singing in front of a large audience when it was just a couple of us. But when the couple of us became a few of us, she would go into hibernation. She was both shy and outgoing and could switch from one to the other and back again in the blink of an eye.
Her creativity was endless. She and Grandma could turn scraps of anything into works of art. Amber had an interest in everything from acrobatics to woodworking and all things in between. Amber gave me those hand-made treasures with such pride and I still have many of them.
Amber also had that gentle side. She seldom raised her voice and was uncomfortable when others did so in anger. She was a caretaker at heart, which showed when she worked at Norbert’s. Amber was the oldest of our grandkids, so she loved playing with and helping her younger cousins. She learned patience from her Grandma and passed some of that on to me. I loved those hugs when we parted company.
Amber could light up any room she entered even as she struggled with depression--she so wanted to be happy. She handled the depression in the best way that she could. I watched her go through those ups and downs so many times. When she thought she had a plan to regain control of her life, she would get slapped down again and would not be capable of following through with her plan. After seeing Amber’s struggle, I thanked God that I have never personally experienced those ups and downs. I also thank God that it is not my place to judge her if she felt that she was doing her best. Jesus said, “Judge not, and you will not be judged, condemn not, and you will not be condemned, forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37) Because one’s behavior toward others often ends up being paid back in kind – and sometimes even to a greater degree – Jesus continued to urge His disciples to be tolerant. In particular, Jesus prohibits condemning others and commends forgiveness.
I remember Amber as that little girl who would run and jump on my lap in happiness and run to me when she was afraid. There were the play-in-the-dirt clothes and pretty girl dresses; dance lessons, softball games, and taekwondo; pierced ears, nose, lip, etc; curly hair, braided hair, and straight hair; tennis shoes and high heels; Disney movies and The Nightmare Before Christmas; school and church; and so on and so on and so on. Pick any of them or add your own. Some of them I didn’t like at the time but I’m going to miss every single one. I have a lot of memories and no one can take them away. Amber has been immortalized in my heart and those memories will remain. I’m sure all of you have fond memories of Amber that you will hold on to.
Amber believed in God and I believe that Jesus has welcomed her into Heaven where she will spend eternity. Amber no longer has to deal with the pain associated with mortality. I have faith that I will see her again and that she will be there to welcome me into eternity. I will miss her dearly but I can now think of her as an angel that is looking over me and she will look out for me when I need help. I love you Amber and I always will.