Monday, May 5, 2014

Ariel Joy, December 27, 2012 - April 25, 2014

Ariel Joy Yoder
Just over a week ago, Alma Jean's grand-nephew Jeremy Yoder and wife Cheryl buried their youngest child and only daughter, Ariel Joy, who died of SMA-Type 1 (Werdnig-Hoffman Disease). Her funeral service in Delaware was on the 58th birthday of her grandfather, Mark Yoder, Jr., Alma Jean's nephew.

While we never got to know this special child personally we kept up with news of her progress through her sixteen months of life, and kept her and her parents and two older brothers in our thoughts and prayers.

Pat Heatwole Hertzler of Powhatan, Virginia, wrote the following about little Ariel on her blog, Country Chatter, which I excerpt here with her permission:

In 16 months Ariel had shyly charmed her way into many hearts. She couldn’t speak except to utter a few noises but she could smile. Her huge brown eyes would connect with the person talking to her for a few seconds as she flashed a big, wide smile.

Then very quickly she would drop her gaze as she glanced to the side. It was sweet, demure, bashful and charming. If you wanted one of those precious smiles you had to drop to her level and look her in the eye.

 She left behind no wealth, no words of wisdom, and no achievements. She never said a bad word, fed herself, or learned to walk. She was never able to approach people, they had to come to her. She left her legacy: joy in the form of her smiles, lot of smiles, and the quiet presence of a life she struggled to live.

Ariel was loved. Her two brothers adored their little sister and her parents faithfully and without any complaint attended to her every need. Ariel went to church and she was told about Jesus and His love for her. She was prayed for by her family, extended family, church family, friends and friends of friends who fervently hoped and longed for a miracle of healing.

Ariel lost her fight to live on earth but she gained heaven’s victory. SMA is a cruel disease robbing the body of the ability to move and grow. At 16 months she weighed a mere 10-1/2 lbs.

The last weeks had become an increasing struggle for Ariel. Breathing and eating became more difficult and she had several choking episodes. She started running a fever and about 1:30 on Friday morning Cheryl got her and put her between them in bed. At six when they awoke she was gone.

We don’t know all that happens at death but God’s Word gives us nuggets of information, treasures that bring peace to our minds and understanding to our hearts....

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Alma Jean's niece Mary Ann Yutzy, who also has a widely read blog, posted the following blessing for her brother Mark Yoder, Jr., and his wife Polly (Heatwole), and for Ariel's parents, Jeremy and Cheryl:

May the years to come mark this day with a surge of joy
as you remember a little girl who could light up a room with her smile.

May you be blessed to remember that God entrusted Ariel to your family
and that you did not fail her on a single count of love or care or faith or nurture.

May your heart be light as you remember that you rejoiced over her with singing.

And may this day be remembered by something other than a small grave in a Delaware cemetery
that holds only the chrysalis of a Heavenly Butterfly
that is more alive now than any of us are or ever will be in this life.

May the memories that you have made this weekend as a family
be the things you remember whenever these days come up in conversation,
by inference or in the quiet remembering of your own soul.

Although mighty forces have waged war against you and your family, do not worry.

You already have the victory.

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