Thursday, September 13, 2012

Celebrating Vienne

One week ago my Haiti Sista Julie's life changed forever.  In a horrific way.  Her beautiful, exquisite four-year-old granddaughter died in a tragic accident.  Every parent's worse nightmare come true.  How - on this earth - do you go on?  Nothing about this is just or right or fair.  The grief, anger, and confusion are suffocating.  The silence deafening.  The pain sickening.

Vienne Juliet Piscitelli was charming, imaginative, and endearing.  Every Tuesday was Grandma Day and Julie looked forward to this day more than any other in her week.  Conversations with Jules often came back to Vienne who was adored by her Grandma.  I felt I knew her before I ever met her.  When I finally had the chance to meet her she drew me in within seconds.  Petite with big, expressive eyes she was clearly the love of her Grandma's life.

Vienne's memorial service was tender, sweet and completely sad.  Family members read letters to Vienne recalling their favorite memories and recounting the essence of who she was.  Vienne was a friend to all with a crazy imagination, giving her toys the funniest and most creative names.  We all laughed as her Dad pulled toys out her backpack and told us each of their names and specifications Vienne had for them.

She loved Jesus and played with Him every day, just like she played with her imaginary friends.  Her Daddy told us she thought of heaven as an amusement park where she was tall enough to go on all the rides.  She would frequently ask, "Daddy when can we go to heaven and play?"

A family friend (see below for all the lyrics) wrote a love song called Vienne that played while photos of her showed on big screens.  He wrote of Vienne's beauty and zest for life.  He also wrote, "Vienne we will see you again.  For us it will seem so long, so we'll needs God's strength to carry on."   There wasn't a dry eye in the building as we watched a slideshow commemorating Vienne's short but beautiful life.  It ended with a home video of Vienne peeking out of her bedroom door smiling.  With great enthusiasm, she waves and says, "Bye bye.  Love you.  I'll see you later."

Her Mommy's gut-wrenching honesty - "You were my obsession - good or bad - from the moment you were born.  How can I go on without you?" - captured what we all felt.  How do you ever recover from this?

I've been stumbling around in a bit of a daze.  Praying.  And grieving.  And wondering why things didn't go differently for Vienne.  Why wasn't the answer YES to protecting her?  Why did she have to die?

I don't have the answers.  But I know the name God gave Himself when Moses asked, "Who are you?" was I AM.  What He meant by that is Everything I am, I will be to you.  Faithful.  Comforter.  Healer of Broken Hearts.  Wisdom.  Strength.  Peace.  Hope.  It's my prayer for Julie and Tom.  Mark and Jenny.  And every other heart shattered into a million little pieces by grief and despair over Vienne's untimely death.

I have a fresh awareness of what is important.  And what is peripheral.  I have been choosing to hug my kids a little tighter.  Pray with them each morning before they leave for school.  Step away from the computer and the house work to just BE with them.  Kiss them at bedtime, even if they protest.  They are my legacy.  My joy.  My delight and as Jenny said, "my obsession."

I can't stop picturing sweet Vienne playing in heaven with Jesus who is no longer another one of her imaginary friends.  I can see them running hand in hand from one ride to another.  Flying down the roller coaster -  hands in the air and screaming with delight.

Play hard Vienne.  Love you.  And we'll see you later.

words and music by John Bruce

Because you’re in God’s hand
Vienne we know it’s not the end
For you it’s just the beginnin’

Even though it wasn’t long
The memories are strong
Beautiful Vienne

Vienne we will see you again
For us it will seem so long, so we’ll need God’s
Strength to carry on

Vienne sweet, sweet Vienne
Your smile so wide, your laughter so bright
We’ll hold onto those memories so tight

We look forward to the day when we can see you
Face to face and give you a sweet embrace


  1. oh the tears. you made her come to life with your words, jodi. I am praying for the comfort that only God can provide for her parents, grandparents, friends, family...what a beautiful little girl.

    1. I'm glad it brought you some comfort. Joining you on my face in prayer. Thank you for letting me know.

  2. I am so so sad for these parents. Yes, she is with the Lord in his amusement park, but the wait is so long for grieving parents. I will be praying for them. He can bring comfort like no other.

  3. such a sad story! I bawled through the whole video. What a sweet sweet soul that went to be with the Lord. I am praying for the family, I can't even imagine the pain of losing a child and am completely heartbroken for them.

    1. Thank you for praying. It's the best thing we can do.

  4. Thank you for these beautiful words, Jodi. Everything God is, he will be to this grieving family.

  5. Oh! OH! Is this Julie Kohl's granddaughter??? So sad!! Vienne was the sweetest most adorable girl. I am praying for the family.

    1. Becca - yes. It is Julie's granddaughter.

  6. My dear Jodi,
    Thank you for bringing to words what we have felt, how we have prayed, but most importantly for capturing exactly how Vienne has touched each of our lives. Through such devastation and tragedy God brings beauty ever time I drop to my knees to pray for Vienne's family and the ache I feel in my heart turns to a smile when I see her radiant smile and joy filled heart. I love you little Vienne. Thank you for letting us get to know you. We will see you soon and hop on that roller coaster with you. Thank you Jodi for your beautiful heart.

  7. Bless you Jodi for writing out this tribute to Vienne reflecting so much of what we all are processing..... Vienne's most sweet voice is still something I can hear with her love of Bob, the dog and eating peas and carrot candy (Tom's treat for her). Her gentle patting of Ivy and love of life. I do hope she is playing hard with Jesus right now!