Life Continues but Memories Linger

We were still living in our rented home in Markham since the funeral but we have our faces turned towards the farm. For our family the last months are just a blur, learning Amanda has RCM, finding out Amanda needs a heart transplant, preparing to move to Toronto, the uncertainty of not knowing when we’ll move, going on a short notice vacation, packing up and moving, Amanda’s sudden death and finally getting ready to move back. Our plan is to make the journey back to the farm with our belongings tomorrow. 

( Don’t miss the video of Amanda’s funeral service at the end of this post)

Life in Markham, Mix of Rural and Urban

After the funeral we made the drive back to our rented house in Markham and decided to stay for a while. We were just not ready to pack up our things a few weeks after we moved in. We have so many last memories of Amanda at this house it felt right not to rush home. It worked well to stay in Markham a little longer as Brandon had driver training booked here and we had some follow up appointments at the hospital for the rest of the family.

Our temporary home at 5472 19th Avenue
We were back at Sick Kids in Toronto a few times since Amanda died.
Tabitha fell and broke her wrist so we were back at the Markham-Stouffville Hospital two weeks after we said good bye to Amanda in that hospital.
The little ones visiting the animals at Willowgrove

The house we rented is next to Willowgrove, a children’s day camp. The owner of the house is the facility Director at the camp. He generously offered us we could use camp facilities when there is no program in session. It is a beautiful facility and it gives the children 150 acres to explore like they are used to.

We experienced lots of beautiful sunsets during our stay here
Patricia enjoying one of her last morning coffees on the deck.

Socializing and Exploring

The Ressor family's 150 year old farmhouse.

We spent a lot of time with Dale and Lois Ressor and their family during our stay in the area. Our first visit to their house was on Friday June 21 when they hosted a BBQ welcoming us to the community and introducing us to more of their friends. Amanda loved history and for some reason God allowed it to be in this historic home that Amanda breathed her last breath on that memorable evening. This farmhouse is a heritage building located within the new Rouge National Urban Park within the Toronto city limits. I’m sure we will be friends with the Ressor family for the rest of our lives.

The old Altona Mennonite Meeting house east of Stouffville. One of the many historic places we visited in the area.
Grizzly bears at the Toronto Zoo a short drive from our house.
Brian and Bonnie Drudge, the folks we are renting from, hosted a BBQ at Willowgrove last night.

The Memorial Rose Garden

We are working at a flower garden on the farm in Amanda’s memory complete with a rose Arbor. Some of our friends, neighbors and family have kindly donated flowers, money and supplies for the garden. We’ve spent a few days at the farm last month in order to work at the garden.

Leveling the soils with my little helpers.
Tamara and Shaphan helping Vanessa planting.
Gardening is fun but it's dirty work
Lincoln loves the garden but we had to make an ugly fence to keep him out.

The Rose still Blooms behind the Wall

My dad submitted this poem in memory of his beloved granddaughter Amanda.

Near a shady wall a rose once grew,
Budded and blossomed in God’s free light,
Watered and fed by morning dew,
Shedding its sweetness day and night.

As it grew and blossomed fair and tall,
Slowly rising to loftier height,
It came to a crevice in the wall,
Through which there shone a beam of light.

Onward it crept with added strength,
With never a thought of fear or pride,
It followed the light through the crevice’s length,
And unfolded itself on the other side.

The light, the dew, the broadening view
Were found the same as they were before;
And it lost itself in beauties new,
Breathing its fragrance more and more.

Shall claim of death cause us to grieve,
And make our courage faint or fail?
Nay! Let us faith and hope receive:
The rose still grows beyond the wall.

Scattering fragrance far and wide,
Just as it did in days of yore,
Just as it did on the other side,
Just as it will for evermore.

by A. L. Frink

Amanda's rose bush at the farm was in full bloom following the funeral

Amanda's Birthday

On July 31 Amanda would have celebrated her 15th birthday. Usually a child’s birthdays is a milestone where we celebrate another year in their life. Amanda’s birthday becomes a remembrance of her birth and the beautiful gift she was to our family.

Patricia created this beautiful image on Amanda's birthday.

Amanda, So Loved, So Missed

Submitted by my sister, Bethany Horst, on Amanda’s birthday.

15 Years ago my brother called me with the urgent message to come to their house to babysit because Amanda was making her arrival into the world. 5 weeks ago my niece sent me a message, “Pray, Amanda is in the hospital.” And a little latter, “could you please come.” This was another urgent summons, Amanda was making her departure out of this world.

I remember how she was then, 15 years ago. So beautiful, so innocent, so new, so just come from God..and I wonder at the beauty, the innocence, the newness she is experiencing now, having gone back to God.

We welcomed her into this world with great joy and we grieve her passing out of this world with deep sorrow. “Lord, guide our hearts to sorrow with hope and, with time, teach our feet to walk again on this terrestial ball even while our hearts ache with longing for the celestial.

Amanda's Funeral Recording

Below is a video I created putting pictures of Amanda throughout her life with the funeral recording in the background. It is an hour long complete with a recording of the singing. Feel free to share.

Closing Reflections

Lord willing, next time you hear from us we will be adjusting to life in the backwoods again. It is bitter-sweet moving back to the farm, we are glad to move back home but it is painful moving back without Amanda.  As we move home we are closing another chapter of our life that holds both very special and extremely painful memories. This neighborhood and the dear friends we made in the short time we were here will always hold a special place in our hearts.

One vivid memory I have of Amanda is the morning Sick Kid’s confirmed they are ready to put her on the transplant list as soon as we’re moved. It was a little intense for her because she knew the only way she is coming back to the farm is if she has a successful heart transplant. I will never forget how with slow steps she walked out to the field where her little goat herd was grazing and just lingered at the fence. At the time I just let that be her quiet moment but now I wish I could just walk up to the fence put my arm around her and ask her what she’s thinking.


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9 thoughts on “Life Continues but Memories Linger”

  1. Margaret Burkholder

    Thank you for sharing! We will walk with you on this journey of grief as you come back home. Last week when I was at your farm picking raspberries, it hit me in a wave when I went in the house to put the raspberries in your freezer. The last time I had been in your kitchen was when I was helping to pack things up. Amanda was working alongside me, organizing the lids and containers, etc, She seemed so relaxed and happy. I can only imagine the memories that will keep flooding in your mind, as you bravely adjust to the fact that she is gone. God give you strength and comfort!

    1. Margaret, I appreciate you sharing your memories packing with Amanda. Somehow it blesses me hearing our friends share fond memories of her. I marvel as well how happy and relaxed she was in all of this experience. Thanks so much for your help getting us moved. Experiences like this help us realize how much we depend on others.

  2. I have been blessed to read along with the posts you have been writing. Surely the pain is deep, and grief will be a process that God will unfold for you. Praying that the comfort and love you receive in this time of grief will heal the pain. I am praying for you all today as you make the move back. It’ll be another huge adjustment that many of us hardly know how to relate to. But we will commit the keeping of your souls into the hands of our Faithful Loving Heavenly Father! Blessings to you in your journey…!

    1. Beautiful writings, thoughts, memories, poem, and pictures. Thank you for the blessing of sharing your painful, yet hopefilled journey with us. It has been so inspiring to us, while even really being able to understand the feelings of all you’ve been through all these months. All I know is through your family we HAVE felt spiritually strengthened.
      Please know we are remembering Amanda, and her touch upon our lives even though we didn’t know her well. Thinking of your precious family with Christian love and prayers as you come back home. ❤🙏 Leslie & Debbie Jessup

      1. Thanks for your care and prayers for us.
        I sensed from the day we found out Amanda needs a heart transplant that God is wrtting a story through this experience and felt lead to share by means of a blog. We never guessed how soon her life will be over. I know Amanda is glad if believers are strengthened and more people come to know her saviour.

  3. Family, I am writing from Argentina, I reached your blog through Gina, Home Joys Blog. God console you eternally and strengthen you to start this new stage without your sweet Amanda. Can I ask if your daughters remains were brought to a cemetery near you? Blessings across the distance.

  4. Horst family, God comfort you in this long and painful road, only he can heal our broken hearts. Praying for everyone and God accompany you back to your farm. Blessings in Christ Jesus from Argentina in South America.

    1. Hello, Ana:
      Amanda’s body is buried in the cemetery within sight of the church building where the family meets with the church brotherhood every Sunday. We look forward to spending some time with our son and his family at a family gathering tomorrow. This will be the first time the Horst family gets together since Amanda’s funeral. We will surely notice her absence but we have peace knowing where she has gone; knowing how ready she was to make the transition.

      Osiah Horst (Grandfather)

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