Mason Smedley passed away on June 19. That day, the ten-year-old shed a physical body ravaged by Juvenile Dermatomyositis. But he left behind a buoyant spirit that will continue to enrich the lives of his family, friends, and countless others around the world who continue to launch red balloons in his memory.
Less than two weeks later, we lost Diane Goheen. A long-time volunteer at our East House and the mother of our board member, Lezli Goheen, Diane was a tireless force who lent her infectious wit and wisdom to many causes—her family, her church, and the Ronald McDonald House, among others. Though we will miss her effervescent energy, we’ll continue to cherish her vital essence—especially when her colorful dahlias bloom in our front yard each summer.
While death is always a possibility here, its occurrence is never easy. As caregivers, we like to think of ourselves as “professionals.” But death knocks us off balance—and though sincere, we often stumble in our attempts to console.
I had no words as I greeted Mason’s parents at his memorial service. But Damon and Kristin were more interested in hugs—and I realized afterword that our silent embrace was more powerful than anything I could have said.
In one of his StoryPeople® creations, artist Brian Andreas writes, “It’s a very fragile world…so walk carefully everywhere you go & we promised to remember for as long as we could.”
Through their loving presence, Mason and Diane demonstrated the importance of walking carefully. Through their sudden passing, they remind us of the world’s fragility. We owe it to them to remember—by the way we live—for as long as we can. And while we’re at it, a few more hugs wouldn’t hurt…
Tom Soma, Executive Director
(Note: A celebration of Diane’s life will be held on Monday, July 23, at 2 pm, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1624 NE Hancock, Portland, 97212)