All the little ways that life goes on

Because it does, because it must, even when it hurts.

The day that Sarah was stung, everyone was calling them bees.  Over the phone, as friends mobilized forces to start praying, as we tried to figure out exactly what was happening and what to do next, the term “swarm of bees” was used.  Bees were the villians, and I felt like I had been sleeping with the enemy.  Deep down I knew though, I knew it wasn’t bees.  It’s not that bees don’t sting, and it’s not that there aren’t people who have a serious allergy to honeybee venom, it’s just that they don’t behave the way that the insects that attacked Sarah were described as having behaved.

They were yellow jackets.  Last week, Jonny and Gabe put on their bee suits, dug up the nest, and destroyed it along with the queen.

But despite the fact that it wasn’t bees, and despite the fact that Sarah has been my raw honey “hook up,”  as we’ve waited the past couple years to harvest our own honey, I wasn’t sure that I could face my bees.  We neglected to check on them the week before, and of course the week after Sarah died, we did the same.  Out of our six hives, only one is strong.  Neglecting the hives for those two weeks proved to be disastrous for one of them, our Lark Rise hive.  When we finally checked on them, we saw immediately that there was trouble.  Thousands of dead bees lay in heaps outside the entrance of Lark Rise.  Inside, it was clear that the hive had been robbed and pretty nearly destroyed.  I have to confess that I was glad.  I can’t explain it, but I was glad.  Somehow the queen bee survived the attack, one that most likely came from our other bees in addition to yellow jackets.  So now we will try to nurse that colony back so that it will survive the winter.

I’m still a beekeeper.

The morning that Sarah was stung, she was emailing back and forth with a group of us who were planning a nature camp for our homeschooling group.  Sarah had grabbed the reins and was coordinating the whole thing.  She had a definite vision for camp, and it was beautiful.  My last phone call with Sarah, just a couple of hours before she was attacked, we were quickly chatting about felted birds’ nests as I tried to get out the door for Mass.  I almost didn’t answer the phone when I saw her number.  Not because I didn’t want to talk to her, but because we were running late, and I’d made a promise to myself not to answer the phone when we’re on our way to Mass (this wasn’t the first time).  Seeing Sarah’s number on my phone, I knew I could call her when we got home, but I couldn’t resist picking up the phone for no other reason than that I love Sarah. We chatted for a couple minutes, me explaining that I had to run, but that I would call her later that afternoon.

When Sarah died, we thought that nature camp died too.  I told a friend that there was no way that we could do it, not without Sarah.  But the night that a few of us showed up at Sarah’s house to help plan her funeral last week, her oldest son asked Lori if we were there for nature camp.  Lori shared this with Eve and me, tears running down her face, barely able to keep her composure.  We looked at each other and realized that somehow in the midst of our grief, nature camp must happen.

Sarah had planned for the children to sing the first verse of “All Creatures of Our God and King” each day at the beginning of nature camp.  That hymn became the entrance hymn at her funeral.  I think all of us who knew and loved Sarah struggled to sing without sobbing, but we did it.  We sang for her.

This week we’ve hosted nature camp, only one week later than we originally planned.  The camp has been a beautiful way to honor Sarah and I’m so glad that we did it.  And though it’s been difficult, we’ve all sung together, leading the children just as Sarah wanted,

“All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing
Oh, praise Him
Thou burning sun with golden beam
Thou silver moon with softer gleam
Oh, praise Him
Oh, praise Him


  1. Shannon Renfro says:

    I cannot believe it has been 2 years since Sarah died. I know that so much has changed – with her family, with her friends. I still think about her and that tragedy. I pray to Sarah. Her story has had such an impact on my heart, even two years later.

  2. Heather H says:

    The image of the bee with pollen raining down is simply stunning. You have more than one gift, for sure, that you are using to touch the lives of so many others. I’m sorry for the loss of your dear friend but know you honor her memory in a myriad of ways by sharing your thoughts and feelings here on your blog. Thank you for sharing the reverence for the beauty of nature even in your most troubled times. It’s touching and uplifting to read your blog.

  3. Ginny my thoughts are with you through this difficult time. I forget you live near me so when I saw Sarah’s story in the newspaper it touched me even more so after reading what you had said. I’m familiar with grief, so I send you love while you travel through yours. <3

  4. I know you don’t know me but I wish I could reach through the screen and hug you. Thank you again for sharing your grief with us, and letting us share in Sarah’s life and legacy. Thank you for letting us join our hearts to your own by being so open with us. We are all of us, your readers and all the Saints and Angels, standing around your family and your community, sharing in this worship to God our King. We are all praying for you and we are all weeping with you.

  5. This touched me deeply… honoring her memory, I pray for Sarah’s family and yours Ginny…
    Much love

  6. You were so very blessed to have had such a magnificent close friend. I am so sorry. I still think of her and cry. I don’t understand how we are supposed to form such close relationships and then lose them!

  7. simply sending love and prayers to you, to Sarah’s family… I trail off. How to electronically comment on such matters? Keep on writing, Ginny, your words are gold.

  8. Marybeth Ferrie says:

    I have been praying for your dear friend’s children, and for you…I know the intense pain of losing a close sister-friend. God bless you all and keep you, may His face shine on you, lift up His countenance on you and give you peace.

  9. Ginny, I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed your blog for quite some time but don’t think I have ever commented. I have been praying and thinking about you and all those close to Sarah since reading of her passing. My heart dropped when I read your initial post as if I knew her (or you) personally. Your writing is so powerful and the love you have for her and her family is palpable. I am a beekeeper and, as much love and respect I have for the craft, I understand your feelings. Your photos of the bees at the top of this post are just so beautiful. The pollen-filled leg pockets on those foragers and the sparkles of pollen in the air are just magical. There is beauty within the sadness and your pictures show this. Your nature camp sounds like a wonderful idea that turned into a healing time for many. Peace and blessings and many thanks for sharing so much with your readers.

  10. Ginny I admire you so much. I can’t say how touched I am by how you always seem
    To say and do the right thing. Sarah was so lucky to have such a wonderful
    Friend. Your family and Sarah’s family have been in my thoughts and prayers
    every day. I pray for better days ahead for all of you.

  11. Hi Ginny! Your post, pictures and your putting one foot forward for this nature camp is bravery in action. It is hard to move on and continue on as if all is normal, yet in the scope of time and nature this is normal–death is just as normal as life, except it hurts really, really bad. Your bravery in moving forward with the nature camp is very inspiring and a great way to honor Sarah–God Bless you! Jen

    • Blessings to you and all of those touched by Sarah and her loss.

      I found this poem in an issue of Plough this weekend and immediately thought of you.

      For One Bereaved

      Stem and leaf and bud and flower,
      Growth perceptible each hour
      To eyes slow enough to see.

      Healing in the shattered bone
      Until each separate cell has grown
      Back to weight-bearing constancy.

      The heart mends slowly, day by day,
      Not by man’s wit, but in love’s way,
      Rich-laden with the past, yet free.

  12. God Bless you and your friends for finding a way to move forward for you, your children, and her children. Healing one step at a time….

  13. Yes, life does go on. If you stop, you may be covered up in the dust from it’s wake always going forward no matter what. Thank you for continuing your blog, for taking photos and sharing all with us as you move forward from a terrible loss. We never forget those we loved and those who loved us.

  14. That song was sung at her memorial Mass last night…brings tears just thinking about it, and now it means so much more. (I received your prayer card, thank you, now I have many, because of the Mass last night!)

    I’m wondering when you said you were glad the bees died, is it because it kind of feels like we’re even…even though it was yellow jackets and not bees? Just wondering because it is how I feel. I will never look at a bee, any kind of bee and not think of Sarah. Because we pray a family rosary daily, we have a couple of her rosaries and use them for this time, I’m used to thinking of her already during that time, now even more…now her family even more. The butterfly rosary is amazing! Wow. So special. I have been reading her meanings of each bead just a little more and paying closer attention to them as we pray.

    What a blessing you were/are to her family…both here and there. Thank you.
    And to me, here.

    I’m so happy you all did the camp, otherwise, it would have been one of those things left undone.

  15. Such a gorgeous post. Your photos. Your words. Just perfect.

    Sending lots of prayers for healing during this incredibly sad time. xo

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