CS Lewis once said that "grief is like the sky, it covers everything." In recent weeks, our family has found that this is so very true. It seems that there is no right or wrong way to travel this path of grief. I have created this blog in hopes that some day we will be able to look back on our journey and see written proof that our great God never leaves us. God is good all the time.

Celebrating Laynee

You might want to scroll to the bottom of this page and pause the music before playing this video.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Another Christmas without her and it still hurts. 
 It is our tradition to open a few present at night and then the kids empty their stockings Christmas morning. 

 I got up early this morning to stuff the stockings. All of them except Laynee's. I ended up putting all of the filled stockings on the floor because the contents made them too heavy to hang. And so Laynee's lone stocking hung from the mantle.

 Her stocking is beautiful, perfect for an angel but it brings that mix of sorrow and peace that has become such a part of our lives. 

 I am so grateful for all of my children. All of the love the fills our home, in spite of her absence. I am grateful for the many things that she has taught us. And I am so grateful for the gift of God's own son. For it is because of this great sacrifice that my sadness is not without hope. Because of this I can look forward to seeing her again one day.




Thursday, December 5, 2013

Growing Up

"I wish they didn't have to grow up" It's a statement we hear often from parents or grandparents of small children. One that is made out of appreciation for the refreshing sweetness of childlike innocence. I know that I said this more than once of my own sweet children during toddlerhood. But now? Now I cringe when I hear this.

 There is nothing more beautiful than a child. Except watching that child grow from toddler to grade schooler to teenager to young adult. The beauty, the real beauty, lies within the natural cycle of life and it's something that we often fail to truly appreciate unless that cycle is broken. We take for granted that our children will move on to the next stage in life because that's just how life happens. And yes, sometimes we long for the purity of a small child to remain forever. But once we have tasted the bitterness of the broken cycle of life, we know. We know that what we truly want, more than anything else on earth, is to see our children grow.

 This past weekend we took advantage of warmer than usual temperatures and bright sunshine to put up our outdoor Christmas lights. Jim and the kids hung the lights in front of the house, the girls strung some around the deck railing, and I put the lights on Laynee's tree. Laynee's tree is a beautiful Blue Spruce that was a memorial gift from our children's school. Every year I wrap it in twinkling hot pink lights, representative of our beautiful little girl. The lights go up at Christmas time and will remain there after Christmas until her birthday on January 30. I have had people tell me that "it's time to the Christmas lights down now." Sometimes I explain. Sometimes I don't. We know why the lights remain. We know what they represent and it matters little what others may think.

 This year, as I weaved the lights through the branches of that tree, with Kruz and Moise sitting nearby, I was struck by the size of the tree and how much it has grown. It used to be that I could stand flat footed and wrap the lights around the top branches. This year Brock had to stand on the seat of the 4 wheeler to reach. Each year I have to buy a couple of extra strands of lights to cover the whole tree.

 Suddenly I heard those words in my mind. "I wish they didn't have to grow up."

 The tree has grown. Laynee has not. I would give all that I own to see her grow up.

            Moise and Kruz enjoying the sunshine next to Laynee's tree that keeps growing.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Something Kind Of Wonderful

There's a feeling that I get sometimes that is difficult to explain. I had never experienced this in quite the same way until after I had to say good bye to my daughter. It's a feeling of experiencing great joy but aching for so much more. Tonight as I was out for my evening run down the country roads near my house, I experienced this.

  The evening sky was extraordinary. Pinks, reds, oranges and purples streaked across the sky, east and west. I never see a sunset or sunrise like this without thinking of Laynee. I imagine she is one of the master painters up there splashing all that color for us to see. But tonight it stole my breath away. The sky was so thick with color, Laynee's color. Missing her hurt so much that the familiar lump formed in my throat and tears came to my eyes. But the sky felt so close, heaven felt so close, Laynee felt so close, as though I ought to be able to reach out and touch the part of heaven that holds my daughter. The sky was so spectacular that I couldn't help feeling joyful but I ached for something so much more. I ached for Laynee, for heaven.

How wonderful, O Lord, are the works of your hands! 
The heavens declare Your glory,
 the arch of the sky displays Your handiwork

Saturday, September 7, 2013

4 years

Happy Heaven Day sweet Jalayne Grace. 
 4 years since I held you, seen that beautiful smile or felt one of your luscious hugs. 
 4 years of missing you, aching for you.  
 4 years of nothing but memories.  
 4 years of being ever so grateful that I am your mommy.
 4 years of wishing I could tell you all the things a mommy tells her little girl. 
 4 years too long. 
 4 years closer to the day I get to see you again. 

I Love you sweet Laynee Girl .  I love you so, so much.  
You're the prettiest, okay!!!
You are my Forever Love.  Forever.  

Monday, September 2, 2013

Another Labor Day

Labor Day continues to be a day filled with memories.  Beautiful memories.........horrific memories.  My mind cannot fathom that we have experienced four of these holidays since our baby girl left us.  The missing and hurting never ceases. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

First Grade

This morning I sent my children off to their first day of school.   That is, at least, my children who are attending our home school district.  Jamee moved back to Saint Louis on Monday and Grant started his college classes the same day.  But today Jade began her senior year, Brock started as a sophomore, Moise went to 6th grade.  Even Kruz started with a new babysitter.  

The house was abuzz with activity.  We took the customary front porch pictures.  All the while, tucked away in the back of my mind was the keen, aching awareness that something was missing.  Laynee should have been here in the mix of back to school.  She should have gone to first grade.  

I think this day, this first day of school, does not get better.  It does not hurt less.  I will miss her.....always... on the first day of school.

She loved her back pack so much.  She was so proud.  This day, when this picture was taken, she refused to look at the camera.  She just wanted to look at her new back pack.  So today, like last year, I took a crisp new back pack to her grave.  Minnie Mouse this time.  I am pretty sure she would love Minnie Mouse.   I have decided that this will be a back to school tradition.  The back pack doesn't ease the pain, not even a little, but it's something that I can do for my little girl.  


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Please Pray

I write this post with a heart that waivers somewhere between heavy and hopeful.  Heavy with what seems almost certain to be bad news but hopeful because I know that my God is in the business of doing miracles. 
God has placed before us another great challenge.  This is a challenge that most who read, especially those who do not know our son, Moise, cannot truly understand or appreciate. You can read about it here and here  .  Please join us in praying that God will do a mighty work with and for Moise.  Pray that we can use this unpleasant experience to touch the lives of others.  Pray that we can rest in the assurance of Romans 8:28 "All things work together for good to them that love God."  And that we can remember that God is good and God does good .......all the time. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Good Night Moon

Laynee loved her Good Night Moon book.

   She loved all books but there was something special about Good Night Moon.  She would listen intently and every time we turned a page she would quickly find and point out the mouse that was hiding within the pages. She would look up at me with eyes full of anticipation, knowing full well that I would scold that mouse for hiding there.  I would mock yell "no mouse in the house."

Kruz is gaining interest in books and so I read to him.

 I dig through the pile of board books with simple pictures and a word or two on each page.

I avoid Good Night Moon.

Kruz seems to like the animal books most.  Pictures of one or two animals on each page.  He grins as I make the appropriate animal sounds.

I avoid Good Night Moon.

I point out his own ears and nose, eyes and toes as we read about those of other babies.

I avoid Good Night Moon.

Tonight in the stack of books that came down from the shelf was a green and red book with yellow letters.

It was Good Night Moon.

It is a good book.  Well written.  Well illustrated.

I read Good Night Moon.

It hurt.  It hurt so bad.

Good Night Stars
Good Night Air
Good Night noises everywhere
Good Night Laynee
I miss you so
Wait for me 'til I get there. 

The Love of God

A beautiful story of one woman's own drowning experience brings me comfort. Grateful for a God whose perfect plan makes heaven a reality.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Because Accidents Happen

Last week I experienced the clawing hands of panic for the first time in a very long time.  A sensation triggered by nothing more than my own thoughts.  It left me feeling weak, brought back painful memories and drove me to my knees, seeking peace that comes only from knowing and trusting that my God is in control and that He is good and does good. 

Our sweet little Kruz is literally terrified of the vacuum cleaner, of any loud noises actually.  One morning he was playing on the floor while Brock was vacuuming the carpets for me.  As the sweeper came closer to Kruz his little body tensed and trembled and his face contorted in fear and distress as a loud wail burst forth.  I immediately scooped him up into my arms and he looked back at the sweeper as if to make sure it wasn't chasing after him.  As I held him close, I whispered words of comfort to him.  "Momma has you now.  Momma won't let anything hurt you.  Momma will keep you safe."

   My words of love and comfort were swiftly swallowed up by the harsh reality that these promises of safety are not promises that I can make with confidence.  Because I am human, because we live in a fallen world, I cannot guarantee that bad things can never and will never happen to this or any child of mine.  It is a reality that terrifies me.

Another time last week, as we entertained a large group in our yard, panic came once more....... swiftly, unexpectedly.  A younger couple had come with their three lovely children.  When mother asked father where the middle child was, the answer was "I'm not sure, he's running around here somewhere."    And just like that, the ice cold fear returned once again.  Fear that comes from knowing what these young parents only know on a cerebral level. 

 In spite of the "shame on you" comments and emails that I occasionally receive from do-gooders who say things like "I have a three year old and I never take my eyes off of him,"  I know that sometimes we lose sight of our children.  Children are quick, curious, adventuresome.  Sometimes, even though, as parents we do everything in our power to protect our children, accidents happen.  And sometimes our worst nightmare is realized.  Sometimes........death comes.

At times the question "can I keep this child safe" feels like it will be my undoing.  My finite mind knows that child death is something I could not endure again. And so I do the one and only thing that I know to do.  The only thing that makes each day, with all of it's uncertainties, bearable. The only thing that brings peace for a future that I cannot see.......... I commit this child to my Lord, the one who created him.  I remind myself that, while I am blessed to be called his mother, his greatest source of identity is through Jesus Christ.  Kruz is a child of the most high God.  Although it is unfathomable to my simple mind, Kruz is loved by his Father God in a way that I, in my humanness, will never be able to love him.

 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
Romans 8:37-39

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Time to Run


Dear Friends and Family,

It is, once again, time to begin preparing for the St. Jude Run.  The three of us are, once again,  teaming together to raise funds for St Jude.  100% of every dollar raised will go toward the research and treatment of childhood cancer, and for the care of children who fight this deadly disease. 

Childhood cancer first left an impact on Jamee’s life when, in kindergarten, her little friend, Nicholaus, lost his battle.   Since then there have been several children in our community who have fought against cancer.  Lexi, lost her battle several years ago.   Brock a student in the class ahead of Jade, has also battled and survived this mighty disease.  Most recently, Jada, the daughter of our church youth pastor was diagnosed of Clear Cell Sarcoma of the Kidney.  As the three of us run, we will do so with these three in mind, remembering their fight, their courage and their valiant spirits. Running from Tremont to Peoria is no small task but it is nothing compared to the fight that so many children have against cancer. 

  The death of our beautiful daughter and sister, Jalayne, nearly three years ago, has made us painfully aware of the unspeakable sorrow of saying goodbye to a child far too soon.  We cannot prevent all childhood accidents and death but we are determined to do our part in joining in the fight against childhood cancer.

The three of us are looking forward to joining the many other St Jude runners in the race against cancer on Saturday, August 3rd.   We will begin running in Tremont and will run the back roads to downtown Peoria.  We will run in memory of Nicholaus and Lexi and in honor of Brock and Jada, knowing in our hearts that our sweet Jalayne will be cheering us on from heaven.

This year the three of us are striving to raise $5,000 for St. Jude.  If you would like to donate to this wonderful cause, your contributions will be greatly appreciated.  You can send a check made out to St Jude Runs to us at 6290 Broadway Road, Groveland, IL 61535 or donate online at      www.stjudepeoriaruns.org/holmes3

We understand that not everyone can donate monetarily. Still, we ask that you remember us and all of the runners on this day. Most importantly, remember and pray for the little warriors, those who have lost, won, or are still fighting against childhood cancer.  It is for them that we run. 


May God Bless You All,
Karol, Jamee and Jade

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

I love Mother's Day.  We typically keep this day pretty low key.  My family pampers me, playing heavily upon my love language which is acts of service.  On this day I reflect on how truly blessed I am to have been raised by a wonderful mother and now to have beautiful children of my own.  I know that I am unworthy of all the love that has been given to me.

Yet even as I soak in the love of what I have, as I delight in watching the interaction of my children,  my heart aches for my child in heaven.  I long for my family's circle to be complete.

21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 
Philipians 1:21-24

Monday, April 29, 2013


Tonight I had the pleasure of presenting Laynee's memorial scholarship to a young lady that I know will prove herself worthy. 

Each year the nominees for Laynee's scholarship are asked to write an essay detailing their attitude toward the word retard in name calling. This year there were 9 nominees and, as always, each of the essays were very well written.  And, as always, there were  a couple that stood out among the rest.  The essay that we chose proved that the young lady who wrote it clearly understood the offensiveness of the "R" word.  We feel confident from her writing that she not only will avoid using the word, but she will make a point to educate others who do use the word. 

It is always with a heavy heart that I stand before the senior class to present Laynee's scholarship.  It seems, in so many ways, surreal to talk of Laynee and our love for her, of what she meant to us and to all who knew her.  It pains me to talk about he "R" word and the bitter taste that it leaves in the mouths of those touched by intellectual challenges.  Yet, as I look out among the many faces before me, I can see the light of understanding on several of them.  I can see that it has never occurred to most of them how it might feel to our family and others with disablities when we hear that word used to demean another.  I can see that some will walk away with a determination never to utter that word again. I can hope with everything in me, that those who have learned tonight will share what they learned with others. 

My mind can barely wrap around the fact that already we have given 3 of these scholarships in Laynee's memory. 

Tonight we proudly presented the third Jalayne "Laynee" Grace Holmes scholarship to Miss Taylor Haggerdorn. 

Make Laynee Proud Taylor.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Unique bond

I met a woman today, one who faces the unthinkable.   Our meeting was not a pleasant one.  It was filled with soul searing grief.  I watched as, in the span of one converation, her facial expressions went from clawing panic over the inevitable to quiet, mournful resignation of what is her life's harsh and brutal reality.  My heart lodged in my throat as she spoke of her daughter, saying "It should be me.  I should be the one dying but she is going to go before me. I am going to have to bury my daughter." 

I had purposefully avoided telling her of my own situation.   That I had already buried my daughter. I did not mention how I know that she stands at the brink of a pain so great it defies explanation.  This was her story, her grief. It was not the time or the place for my own.  I wanted her to know that my sorrow was for her, not for my own situation.  So I kept silent and just listened.   But as we talked, we learned that we have mutual acquaintances.  She knows people that I know.  And then she asked where I live.  I told her and she asked "do you live in the one with the pool?"   When I clarified that we did have a pool but it's gone now.  Her face registered clarity and recognition. I knew that she had connected the dots.  Suddenly she knew.  She touched me as she said "You know.  You know what it's like to lose a daughter."  All I could do was nod and tell her that I do know.  That I am so, so sorry.   That no mother should ever have to bury their child.

I am glad that I chose to keep silent.  At the same time I am grateful that she discovered the truth.  For with the light of recognition in her eyes came an instant connection, an inexplicable bond that is shared only among parents whose children are gone (or in this case "going") too soon.  I had no words of wisdom, nothing that could bring comfort to her.   I could only embrace her with a promise to pray, knowing that even that seems somehow empty. 

Long after we went our own ways, this mother stayed with me in my thoughts.   It occurred to me, not for the first time, how very few people that we know personally have experienced child loss.  But for those who do know, the bond is immediate. It is a bond that runs deep and connects souls intimately.   Each time we see each other, we do not speak of our loss, words are unnecessary.  Still........we know. We just KNOW.

Friday, April 5, 2013


My heart has been heavy for my little girl lately.  Reality is that the heavy, aching heart never really goes away.  It's there... always... with every beat... with every breath.  But some days are extra heavy. 

As much as I love the balmy, springtime weather that those of us in the midwest have been enjoying this week, I cannot help noticing that warmer weather brings greater aching.  Perhaps it was her almost obsessive love for the outdoors that causes me to be more keenly intuned to her abscence when the weather is nice. Or perhaps it is the dreadful fact that she died there, in our back yard. 

I absolutely love this weather.  The sunshine seems to reach down into my soul and transform me, making me almost giddy.  The warmth, the new life, the color, the fresh smell of spring dirt add a sense of  exuberance to ordinary day.  I cannot get enough of spring time

And yet.

There are sharp stabs of pain- pain that comes from being too long without my youngest daughter.  Sometimes it is almost as if I can feel her there beside me as I work in the yard, most especially, in her garden.  I picture her, in my mind's eye, running and dancing through the grass.  This image brings nearly knee buckling pain.  The sun, rising and setting, paints marvelous pictures this time of year, pictures that never cease to remind me of her.  The more extraordinary the color, the more I long for her. 

 Today, for the first time, I placed Kruz in her swing hanging from our swing set and my heart clenched tight.  I wonder if, in spite of the fact that by now she would be too big for it,  I will always think of it as hers.  This evening as I was preparing to bring Moise and Kruz in from outside I missed her so desperately, knowing, instinctively that she would be a little mother hen to her baby brother. She would be such a big helper.  It seems that everywhere I turn there are little reminders of what should be but is not. 

At times I feel exhausted with the constant, unending task of trying to balance grief and joy.  How do I, forever, allow the sorrow to be exactly what it is, without allowing it to steal the joy that is my life? How do I do this from now until forever?

Monday, February 18, 2013


"Pray. Pray hard. My sweet daughter gave birth yesterday to her 40 week, perfect in everyway, still born daughter."  "Tell me again... God is good always. Tell me"  These words are an excerpt from a message sent to me last week from a beautiful, dear friend.  In the past two weeks I have had three phone calls or messages telling me of the death of someone's child.  A little three year old boy, so very much like Laynee died in an accident eerily similar to our own accident.  One day later, a young boy from our church, a friend of my children, died in a car accident.  And now this message from my friend, her daughter's long awaited daughter, gone before she took her first breath.  After learning of each of these, I did the one and only thing that I know to do.  I prayed. It was in praying for my friend and her daughter that I realized something is different. My prayers are different.  My response to another's tragedy is different.  I am different.

Not long ago, a few months maybe,  this sort of news would have been nearly debilitating to me.  I would, most certainly, have prayed for these families, but my tears, the deep sorrow that I felt would have been for my own tragedy, my own loss, not theirs.  I would have been thrust back in time to our own horrific experience and relived the trauma of my own life. In praying I would have lashed out at God, begging to understand why it is that bad things happen to good people, demanding to know why he took my daughter from me.  But this was not my reaction to hearing of each of these recent tragedies. 

While my reaction to the loss that others have experienced is different than it has ever been since Laynee's accident, neither is it the same as it would have been before Laynee died.  The difference....is empathy. Before experiencing the death of a child I would have felt sympathy for any parent who must endure such sorrow.  Sympathy and empathy, though often used interchangeably, are not the same.  The sympathy that I felt before would have come from compassion born of my  perception of what I thought it might be like to lose a child. I would have ached for each of these families, all the while hoping that I would never have to know or understand this type of pain. I wondered "how does one survive something like that?" In contrast, the empathy that I feel now comes from a deep, personal understanding of child loss.  From knowing the physical pain, the shock, the agony of burying your beloved child.  Along with this empathy comes the knowledge that these parents will never, ever be the same.  That their lives will forever be marked in terms of "before" and "after."  Even as I know this, I know too that they will survive.  By the grace of God they will carry on.

Tears fell upon hearing of each of these recent tragedies.  For the first time since we said good bye to our baby girl,  not one of those tears were for my own pain but for the pain of these parents.  My prayers were simply "Oh God, be near to them.  It's such a long and painful journey." I pray also that somehow I can take this empathy and use it for the service of others.

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God
Isaiah 40:1

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Happy Birthday

I Love You Forever

6 Years Old

Six years ago she came into this world.  We weren't there, We didn't even know yet that we would have another child.  In fact, it wasn't even on our radar.   But she was here, born to be our sweet angel girl, to touch lives and teach lessons and bring joy....so very much joy.  She became ours to love forever..... our daughter, sister.  We thought we would have her for a lifetime.  And I guess, in essence, we did have her for a lifetime, a tragically short lifetime. 

In my heart this day of the year will be forever set apart from other days.  It's her birthday.  There will be no party, no one to blow out candles or make a wish. Still, it is a day set apart, a day to honor the beautiful life that graced our home for so short a time.  I love and hate this day.  Hate that she is not here, but love that on this day I feel a sense of freedom to experience all that is tucked away inside my heart.  I can open, for just one day, that compartment that, on ordinary days,  must be pushed aside to allow for life to go on.  Today, on her birthday I can sit quietly with all that is.....the sorrow, the tears, the joy that her memory brings. 

I can no longer pretend to know what she would be like. She would be very different from the child we remember. Life experiences, school, friendships....all of these would certainly have changed her. Yet in my heart of hearts I know that Laynee would still be full of joy, that she would be the epitome of unconditional love. I know that she is still my daughter, that she is loved beyond measure, that I will hold her again one day.  And to know this is enough.         

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Messenger for Laynee

Yesterday heaven gained another saint.  A beautiful woman, a long time resident of our community, entered heaven after a lengthy battle with cancer.  I've known her, as an acquaintance, for about as long as I can remember, but since her diagnosis 18 months ago, I have come to know her on a much deeper level.  She had a gentle spirit, a woman of great dignity and love for all. 

Before I took my full time position at Labcorp, I kept myself busy with cleaning houses for others.  It is through this that I came to know Carol more intimately.  With her diagnosis, and the pain and fatigue that came with it, I was asked to come to her house on a regular basis to clean for her.  When I took the job at Labcorp I gave up all of my cleaning jobs except Carol's.  She inspired me with her determination and ever peaceful attitude and so I continued to work her into my schedule.  From the very beginning, she would sit and talk to me as I cleaned.  She encouraged me as I sent two of my children off to college.  She gave me regular updates of her own condition. She was interested in my life and I was interested in hers.  Though cancer was eating away at her body, it never destroyed her beautiful spirit and I never heard her utter a single word of complaint.  She loved her family, her community, her life and knew that she was a blessed woman. 

The last time I cleaned for her, my heart lurched as I walked in and found her on the sofa, unable to get up.  Still, she was interested in what was going on in my life.  She asked about my children and about the baby.  She whispered words of encouragement to me.  As I prepared to leave that day, I knew in my soul, that I would not see her again on this earth and she knew it too.  We shared a tearful goodbye and then she grabbed my hand and said "I would really like to see your baby once. Please bring him to see me."  And so I did.  I left, went to pick up Kruz at my friend's house and returned with him in my arms.  As weak and frail as Carol's body was, she was determined to hold him.  She sat up, I placed him in her arms with my own arms under hers and she whispered beautiful words to him.  As I took him from her arms, she told me, with tear filled eyes, that when she sees my little girl she would be sure to tell her that she has a beautiful baby brother.  Tears ran from my own eyes as I asked her to also tell her that "we love and miss her so much."  Carol smiled at me and said "Oh I'm sure she already knows that but I will tell her again."   I left tearfully then, Kruz in my arms,  my heart wrapped around this priceless gift that Carol had given to me. 

When word came to yesterday that Carol and left this world.  My heart filled with myriad emotions: Sorrow--from knowing I will not see her again on earth. Pain--for the family that loves her desperately and the grief journey that has been thrust upon them.  Joy--Because I know that my message has been delivered to my baby girl.  Comfort and Peace---From knowing her suffering is finished and that she won her race.  And a touch of envy-- because I know that she is with her Lord, in the same place as the beautiful child my heart aches for. 

Since Laynee died, most of the people I know have the same confindence that I have.  That heaven is real.  That, because of the great sacrifice at the cross, we have hope of life eternal. But there a few who scoff at this hope that I have.  There are those who have said "fine, if that's what you want to believe" or "if it makes you feel better to think your daughter is in some imaginary heaven...."  Those people have clearly never had an oppurtunity such as this one that I have had.  They cannot possibly have witnessed someone so full of hope and joy as they knowingly live their last days on earth.
There is one, and only one, explanation for such great hope.  It is the "Peace of God, which passes all understanding" Philippians 4:7