Welcome to Lanie’s Orchard.
I chose the name because Lanie once told me of her dream of living in the country someday — not only so she could grow her own vegetables, but so she could have an orchard. Knowing that I am more of a city person, she teased me that I would still have to come out to the farm for a few days at a time to see the grandchildren. And so I looked forward, from that day on, to chasing Lanie’s laughing children around the orchard — and sitting down afterwards to feast on fresh-picked apples, peaches, pears and cherries.
So it’s not surprising that the first dream I had of Lanie after she died was of the orchard.
I never actually saw Lanie’s face in the dream; but I was walking with her sisters Leah and Jackie through a large open field, and I could sense Lanie’s presence behind us as she showed us around. I could also sense her pride and happiness — especially when we came upon the fruit trees.
That was when I knew where we were and why we were on this “tour.” Lanie was showing us her little piece of heaven.
I think about that dream often, and though I am heartbroken that I’ll never know the joy of picking fruit with Lanie’s children or chasing them in and out of the trees, it gives me some comfort to think of her tending her gardens and orchard.
And I have to say that I am looking forward to the conversations we’ll have once the time comes for me to join her there.
“You win, Lanie,” is the first thing I will tell her. “You’ve made me a country person.”
There was no single moment when I decided to start an online scrapbook about Lanie; it was more the steady day-to-day accumulation of tributes, news and developments.
During those agonizing days and weeks after she died, I collected and bound a bulging folder of letters from her friends, remembrances, photos, and cards. Cataloguing and organizing all those mementos and tributes is what kept me sane during those days. I wasn’t functioning or of much use to anybody otherwise — but I was going to make sure that every scrap about Lanie and her life were saved.
It’s normal to be inundated with cards and tributes at a time like that; but with Lanie, it all just keeps coming. A year later, I have multiple scrapbooks. Not only do I still hear every day from those who knew and loved Lanie, but I also constantly encounter people who never met her — and wish they had. Complete strangers come up to me and tell me how my daughter’s story has touched them or affected them. Only a month ago, I met the woman who for the last year has been putting flowers on Lanie’s ghost bike at the accident scene — often with the help of her grandchildren. Carol Holt says she never knew Lanie, but she feels a strong connection to her.
George Throop, the amazing young man from Washington State who just completed a 4500-mile Walk Across America (enjoythewalk.com), also feels a powerful connection to Lanie. George’s story about his Lanie encounter can be found at Lanie.me/tributes. I also wrote about George’s visit at http://www.henricocitizen.com/Opinions/article/cross_country_walker_hits_the_lucky_seven0705.
Carol and George are just two of the scores of people I now count among my “Favorite People I Wish I Had Never Met,” and I know I am bound to meet more. I want to share these encounters with everyone who loves Lanie, in addition to sharing other ongoing news and developments on the Lanie front.
And so we plant the seeds of Lanie’s Orchard. Thanks for joining me as we watch her legacy grow and bear fruit.