We love you, Jasmine.

Jasmine passed away Saturday, February 14 at about 7:00 PM CST. She fought hard, but her body was just too tired and it was time to let her get her wings. She had been on the ventilator since Tuesday and the doctors tried several different treatments trying to save her. In the end, her lungs were simply too scarred for her to be able to breathe unassisted. Jeff, my Mom and myself were at her side when she died, and Gabrielle came in intermittently. I held her in my arms as she peacefully and painlessly passed through the gate to a place where she can breathe freely. We are grieving deeply, but we are so very glad that Jasmine is no longer struggling for breath.

We are having a memorial service in St. Louis tomorrow — we are as of yet unsure of the time. If you are interested in attending this service, please email me and let me know so I can pass the time and place on when I have them. The hospital chaplain is reserving a place for us to gather tomorrow and I don’t have these details yet.

We are having a service for family and friends at the UU church in Bloomington, hopefully this weekend. Again, if you wish to attend, please let me know as soon as possible so I can send you details on the time and date when I have them. I will be speaking to David, our pastor, tomorrow morning to get this information. We would love to gather stories from people to tell at Jasmine’s service and afterwards. If you are able to come and read your story, that would be wonderful, but if you can’t make it and would like us to share your story, please email it to me at mj.vansteenberg@verizon.net.

So many of you have called or sent emails and cards and gifts showing your love and support and I cannot tell you how appreciative we are. They have sustained us through this time and continue to help us get through the time ahead. If you are moved to send something in memory of Jasmine, please send donations in Jasmine’s name to one of the following organizations:

CF Foundation
Make-A-Wish Foundation
Ronald McDonald House of St. Louis
St. Louis Children’s Hospital

Each of these organizations has helped our family have the privilege of spending the past ten years with Jasmine. They did not work alone and there are many other groups that are worthy of donation, but we are trying to keep the list manageable. Jasmine spent the last eleven months since her transplant living a very different life than her pre-transplant life. She was able to jump, to run, to sing, to laugh without coughing. The Jasmine who had been hiding behind sick lungs all her life shined her light into our lives and while I am forever grateful for the ten years I spent with her, I am particularly appreciative of the past eleven months. Jasmine was a teacher and the last year was full of lessons. I know she touched many other lives as well, and I am honored that I was able to help bring her into our community.

We are releasing Jasmine’s body with fire, but we will be taking her remains to the sunny Caribbean in the next several weeks. Jasmine managed to finagle a promise for a trip to the Caribbean out of me before she passed and we mean to honor that promise. This is the place I called to her mind via a guided meditation when I was able to be with her in the hospital, and I invited her spirit to go there again yesterday. We believe that your tears, sorrow and good wishes help her find her way to the place where Spirit lives. If you are willing, please light a candle for the next week to help light her way.

I have found great solace in a story about water bugs and dragonflies that I would like to share with you all now. I am unsure who the author is, but this story has been my strength since I first heard it about four years ago. Jasmine has her wings. Jeff and I will both be getting dragonfly tattoos in memorial of Jasmine’s beautiful free spirit.

Down below the surface of a quiet pond lived a little colony of waterbugs. They were a happy colony, living far away from the sun. For many months they were very busy, scurrying over the soft mud on the bottom of the pond. They did notice that every once in a while one of their colony seemed to lose interest in going about with its friends. Clinging to the stem of a pond lily, it gradually moved out of sight and was seen no more.

“Look!” said one of the water bugs to another, “one of our colony is climbing up the lily stalk. Where do you think she’s going?” Up, up, up it slowly went… Even as they watched, the water bug disappeared from sight. Its friends waited and waited but it didn’t return…

“That’s funny!” said one water bug to another…

” Wasn’t she happy here?” asked a second…

“Where do you suppose she went?” wondered a third…

No one had an answer. They were greatly puzzled.

Finally one of the water bugs gathered its friends together. “I have an idea. The next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk must promise to come back and tell us where he or she went and why.” “We promise” they said solemnly.

One spring day not long after the very water bug who had suggested the plan found himself climbing up the lily stalk. Up, up, up he went. Before he knew what was happening, he had broken through the surface of the water and fallen into the broad and free lily pad above.

When he awoke, he looked about with surprise. He couldn’t believe what he saw. A startling change had come over his old body. His movement revealed four silver wings and a long tail.

Even as he struggled, he felt an impulse to move his wings… The warmth of the sun soon dried the moisture from his new body. He moved his wings again and suddenly found himself above the water.

He had become a dragonfly. Swooping and dipping in great curves, he flew through the air. He felt exhilarated in the new atmosphere.

By and by the new dragonfly landed happily on a lily pad to rest. Then it was that he chanced to look below to the bottom of the pond. Why, he was right above his old friends, the water bugs! There they were scurrying around, just as he had been doing some time before.

Then the dragonfly remembered the promise.

Without thinking, the dragonfly darted down.

Suddenly he hit the surface of the water and bounced away. Now that he was a dragonfly, he could no longer go into the water…

“I can’t return!” he said in dismay.

“At least I tried. But I can’t keep my promise.

Even if I could go back, not one of the water bugs would know me in my new body.

I guess I’ll just have to wait until they become dragonflies too.

Then they’ll understand what has happened to me, and where I went.”

And the dragonfly winged off happily into its wonderful new world of sun and air…

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