By Fred Stabbert III
JEFFERSONVILLE January 11, 2002 - Lauren Hughson got her wish.
With her mom and dad by her side, along with her big sister, Jamie, Lauren got one more horse ride.
It wasnt an Appaloosa like Lauren wanted, but she was never one to complain. No, not Lauren.
Her white casket aboard a fancy carriage drawn by a Belgian horse, Lauren rode up Main St., Jeffersonville Wednesday morning, to the First Presbyterian Church of Jeffersonville.
It was there that an overflowing crowd of her family and friends gathered to celebrate the life of the young girl who fought so valiantly against the wrath of cancer.
The brown-haired little girl who loved to be with her friends and family certainly would have approved of the big gathering at the church, but that didnt make it any easier on the attendees.
We struggle to make sense out of the hard parts of life, the Rev. Robert McCleod said. Love does not necessarily make life easier.
Lauren, just 23 days shy of her eleventh birthday, died on Saturday, January 5 after spending two months in Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia.
The daughter of Jim and Diane Hughson, Lauren lived on Swiss Hill, near Jeffersonville, with her older sister and many pets.
She was loved not only by her family, but by a community of friends and neighbors.
As little girls rested their heads on their fathers shoulders and moms put their arms around their sons, the congregation heard a story about how Lauren lived her life in grace, an example to all she met.
She had a remarkable spirit, Rev. McCleod, fighting back tears, said. Events like this drive us to think more deeply about our life. We all have a God-given talent which wants to understand everything.
There are probably things we will never understand, he said. More and more we get honest and say its a mystery. I believe it is in another dimension.
Laurens life and death is in another dimension, he said. She really was an angel from the very beginning. Even her suffering was part of that mission.
Kathy Herbert, who spent time in the hospital with her niece, said the family knew when it was time to let go.
I walked out of Laurens room and into the hallway, Kathy remembered. And a nurse said, I think you need a prayer.
Im all prayed out, Kathy said.
You gotta have one more prayer left, the nurse replied.
What do I have to lose, Kathy said as she walked into a small room to be alone with her thoughts. I know, Lord, you dont like being told what to do, but please ask Lauren to close her eyes in peace and be with you.
The Lord listened.
She gave me back all the faith in the world, Kathy said. There is a hole in our heart today, but a sorrow shared is a sorrow halved.
Lauren, wise beyond her years, also loved people.
One mother told of how Lauren befriended her daughter in school when no one else would.
She put her arm around my daughter and said, It will be all right, Ill be your friend, the mother remembered. Always.
The little girl had brown-colored skin.
And Mary Head, a family friend, called Lauren her best friend.
Mary recalled how Lauren would walk into her store, Too Good to Be Threw, and proclaim, Im taking the money today.
Then she would proceed to pull up a stool and straighten out the cash register.
The bills are such a mess, she would tell Mary.
When someone walked in, they would tell Lauren, Youre so cute.
But with a wag of the finger, Lauren would let that impish smile cross her face and say, Not all the time.