Parenthood always grabs you by the heart, but sometimes it squeezes so hard that you wonder how you’ll ever make it through. When Libby Kranz lost her daughter to cancer, her heart took the most terrible beating of all.
Jennifer Lynn Kranz was six when she died of brain cancer in her mother’s arms, leaving only bittersweet memories to cling to.
When Libby placed a beloved ring of her daughter’s next to her ashes, to be buried with her, she immediately regretted not holding on to it. It was all she had left.
The ring, a cheap trinket found at a garage sale a year before doctors discovered the cancer that would steal her eldest child away, had been one of the sweet six-year-old’s most treasured possessions.
“It was one of those things that immediately when it was done, I wanted to dig the ground back up and get it back. I thought I’d made the biggest mistake,” says Libby.
More than just a ring, it became part of a playful game between the mother and her daughter, a connection between the two. Libby says because she liked the ring, Jennifer graciously told her she could have it, only to take it back. They traded the ring back and forth over the next year, until the family received the most devastating news.
“That became our thing, that every once in a while, she would just say, ‘I want my ring back’, and wear it around for a few minutes and then she’d say, ‘OK, I’ll give it back to you’,” Libby tells Today Parents. “I would always kiss the ring and tell her the five bumps on it were the five loves of my life – my four kids and my husband.”
In October 2013, Jennifer began showing symptoms that led to her being diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, an inoperable brain tumour.
A few months later, in February 2014, Jennifer died in her mother’s arms at home in California.
On the day of Jennifer’s funeral, Libby “kissed the ring and the last thing I said was, ‘For my five loves – you give it to me when I see you again, Jennifer’.”
“In my vision, the moment I died, she’d run up to me and hand it back to me. That was what I meant,” Libby says.
Libby blogs about Jennifer on the website for Unravel Pediatric Cancer and had talked about the ring that her girl had given her.
Karen Zoucha, a mom of two from Nebraska, was an avid reader of Libby’s blog and was deeply moved by the family’s story. Months after Jennifer’s death, she was scrolling her Facebook feed when she saw something in a photo from an online sale.
“My eyes immediately zeroed in on what I saw and this sudden emotion took me over and I even spoke out loud while gasping, ‘That’s the ring’,” says Karen, who then emailed Libby and offered to mail it to her. “I figured there was no way it could be the ring.”
When the package arrived, Libby says she opened it and began crying. It was an exact match.
“It was her ring,” says Libby. “Jennifer liked to do things her way, and so somehow, she got it back to us through this complete stranger, in her own timing.”
Libby says when your child is gone, all you have are memories.
“You look at these things that your child touched and loved, and it brings back memories,” she says. “I think these mementos allow us to remember, and to pass our children on to others, to keep their memory alive.”
(via Today Parents)