The Frost and Freedom of Death

Rene Menard, left, and Leslie Marbach.

I haven’t known what to write about this. I’ve been numb.

Even at this moment words keep their place far from me. They know they have no business beside me now. Not now. Not for this.

And yet here they are, now, pitching in, bending their backs, stretching themselves to the point of  breaking.

At the turn of this year, as I was launching Unfundamentalist Christians, I put out a call on my blog for someone to serve as administrator of an online forum we were putting together for that group. Leslie Marbach volunteered herself for the position. I knew Leslie from my blog, where she had long been writing comments that were invariably intelligent, insightful, and kind. She was one of my great, truly helpful commenters. I knew she was the right person to run the UC forum; I really knew it when she informed me that she had experience being the head administrator for a huge, thriving online forum similar to UC.

Leslie immediately proved herself an ideal team member. She and Dan coordinated; they got along; her many thoughts and ideas for the forum were fantastic; she put together a crack team of UC forum moderators. From ideas, to communications, to execution, to follow-up, Leslie never failed to do exactly the right thing. She was, literally, the answer to my prayers. (We’ve since moved all of UC’s online activity to its Facebook page.)

Over the course of this year, via phone chats and emails, Leslie and I became friends. I grew to feel honored to know Leslie. She’s a wonderment of spirit. She has the kind of character that can only be honed by surviving things. Leslie had one of the toughest lives and childhoods I’ve ever heard of. Just nightmarish stuff. Her parents were unbelievably awful. Her father was vile.

And here she is today, a strong single mother of two wonderful twin boys, living in the small north-central Washington town in which she grew up. Humble, smart, loving, giving: Leslie is everything God would want one of his representative on earth to be.

Late one night a month ago I received, out of nowhere, a Facebook instant message from a young lesbian living in a small town in a very remote part of India. In the first line of her message to me the girl said that she wanted to commit suicide. I immediately responded that she should not, since doing so would mean that the assholes had won. In the course of our ensuing exchange it became clear just how lonely this young woman was.

The first thing I did after our hour-long e-chat concluded (in a way that assured me she was safe) was to contact Leslie. I told her about the girl, and asked if she would please consider emailing her, and just saying hi. I knew Leslie would handle this young woman in exactly the right way, that she’d be loving without being overbearing, respectful without being fawning, intimate without being invasive. I knew she would listen to the girl, in the way gifted healers do.

Leslie, as I knew she would, not only said that she would contact the girl, she did so right away.

You don’t trust someone in the delicate state of the Indian girl to just anyone. And I certainly hadn’t. The next day the girl emailed me to sincerely thank me for sending Leslie her way. The two of them continued communicating. The last I heard the girl was doing great.

Soon after that Leslie unexpectedly and joyously fell head-over-heels in love. She wrote me the night she came home after her first date with Rene. She was positively giddy over how fabulously the evening had gone.

“Rene is awesome!” Leslie wrote me. “I’m not even going to try not to fall in love with her. It wouldn’t work anyway. I’m gone.” Though excited for her, I was also slightly worried about Leslie. I didn’t want her heart to get broken.

I needn’t have worried. Leslie is no schoolgirl—notwithstanding that she was crushing like one. But very early on in their relationship—on their first date, I believe—the best possible thing in the world happened: Rene fell for Leslie every bit as hard as Leslie had fallen for her.

Even from as distant a sideline as I was on, it was thrilling to watch Leslie first fall, and then seriously be, in love. “I have found my soul-mate,” she wrote me. “I can’t believe that, at forty-two years old, I have finally met the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with.”

On August 23rd she wrote me, “I feel like a teenager, which is wild, since I was a boring teenager. So I guess I feel like a 20-something! That so, so works for me.”

Two days later I got an instant message from Leslie that said:

“john, my heart is aching so much. rene’s ex killed her tonight then killed herself. the love that i thought god sent me is now gone. i don’t really know what to do. prayers are much needed. staying with my [adopted] parents tonight.”

The short of it: Rene had an ex-wife, Shelly; Shelly, off her meds, went on a bit of a (victimless) rampage through town; throughout that day Rene and Leslie tried to help Shelly; that afternoon, at around 5 p.m., Shelly shot Rene dead, shot and wounded a friend of Rene and Leslie’s, and then used her gun to kill herself.

According to their prearranged plans, Leslie was supposed to be with Rene where and when the shooting occurred.

“John,” she wrote me, “it could have been me.”

The local newspaper ran a couple of articles on the incident. The first of those articles is here; its follow-up is here.

Late the night of the afternoon it happened, Leslie, wandering around her town in a haze of shock and grief, messaged me through Facebook.

“She’s dead,” she wrote. “I’m so lost.”

The next day Leslie wrote me this:

John, I’m overwhelmed by so much support from friends all over the country. At the same time I’m so incredibly overwhelmed by this crushing sadness. I feel like curling up in a ball and dying. Not that I’d do that, but it’s how I feel. I can’t imagine it ever getting better. And I’m so fucking mad at God. So mad! Why the hell did he bring her into my life for such a short period of time only to have her ripped from me? I keep re-reading her texts. The ones I had saved. Now I wish I’d saved every single one but phones only hold so many. I read the quick ones “You take my breath away” and the longer ones that talk about looking forward to making a home together and waking up next to each other every day for the rest of our lives and even the texts that talk about things that would be TMI. I truly believe we were meant to be together forever. She said so all the time. Now all the friends she talked to about me are telling me over and over how incredibly happy she was and how she told them how much she loved me. And it only makes me hurt worse. Maybe, someday, it will be comforting. I can only pray that someday gets here soon.

That night Leslie and I talked on the phone for about an hour. To say the least, it was one of the more moving conversations of my life.

The next day Leslie said she would love me to write something about the tragedy. But upon trying my fingers repeatedly froze hovering above the keyboard. Bringing words to this felt like bringing sponges to a flood.

So I began waiting. I knew that sooner or later I’d know what to write. It would happen when it happened. Maybe it would take me a week to write something suitable; maybe it would take months. Maybe it would never happen. All I knew was that I’d know when I knew.

Last night I got a Facebook IM from Mindy Brown Carney. If you know my blog, you know Mindy. Like Leslie, Mindy (who knew nothing of Leslie’s tragedy) is one of the great commenters on my blog. She’s been with me for years; my blog wouldn’t be the place it is without her consistently intelligent and sensitive comments. If she ever starts her own blog I’ll lose half my audience.

Mindy’s 13-year-old daughter Joerdan had just that evening finished writing something that Mindy was wondering if I would read.

While reading what Joerdan wrote I felt something large inside me crack. The fourth time through reading Joerdan’s piece, I could barely see the page through my tears. At first I was simply at a loss to understand the depth of my response to this child’s prose.

And then I understood.

This teenager, writing with the effervescent idealism of the young, and the unbridled confidence of a wisdom so fresh its possessor can’t imagine any question to which it hasn’t an answer, had, to my mind, tapped into a spring that runs deeper than the world’s insane pain. She was writing from the place we all lived when young, the place to which, once time has had its way with us, love alone can ever really return us.

What Joerdan wrote is haunting; it’s crazy; it’s fantastic; it feels like a dream. It is magically, wonderfully, perfectly immature. Yet there’s something about it entirely too mature: it’s informed by an air of sadness, of resignation, of something vital too rapidly fading.

That’s how it feels when you’re thirteen. The past seems a wonderment of naivete; passion is all; the shimmering world awaits the coming new you.

I cried when I read what Joerdan wrote because I intuited that, without even knowing it, she had written Leslie’s song.


DwAiNlCEd (Dance Wild)

by Joerdan Carney

Trees spread their branches wide in welcome to the sky. Colored shards of glass drip from silver strands, casting a fractured rainbow upon the forest floor. Maidens of light and gents of shadow waltz in a mad dance, twirling and flitting through a sea of dreams. Glittering gowns of mist and moonlight sway through the air. The deep azure of the night sky lies as a cape over one of the gent’s flickering forms. It is a dance of dominance, each side fighting to lead, each prevailing for the fleetest of moments before faltering as the other takes over with a wispy smile.

But these beings of light and dark are not the only ones to dance. The creatures in the trees move to their own beat. A neon feline pounces into the air, spreading wings of bone, and performs aerial acrobatics amongst the glass. Nearby a squad of two-inch horses gallops along the surface of a lake, tossing delicate heads and whinnying, their petite voices like the plink of raindrops, growing to a crescendo as more join the prance. A bear in ringmaster garb lumbers up to the sweeping strands of a willow. Taking the leafy tendrils in one clawed paw it jumps, swinging through a curtain of green with the weight of a feather. Everyone dances in this world, for when they do, a purpose is borne from their steps. The balance of light and dark, feminine and masculine, the frost and freedom of death, the plink and gallop of raindrops, and the gentle within the beast. Everything has a role, and without all of them, the show cannot go on.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Touching John, my heart broke. Thank you for posting this and leaving the religious aspect unspoken – now, the story can speak to each of us individually.

  • I am poured. I am poured out. I am poured out like water.” Marisa de los Santos, from “Belong to Me”

  • Soulmentor

    We never know, do we when, always unexpected, serendipity wondrously happens.

  • Susan in NY

    oh I am so very, very sorry for your loss, A’isha. I will keep you in my thoughts.


  • Christie Landtroop via Facebook

    heartbreaking… much love and big prayers for A’isha.

  • DR

    A’isha, you are a heart within the heart of this forum. Why we lose love when it seems like a rare, unexpected gift. It doesn’t make sense, it’s so awful. To lose her in this way, I can’t imagine this. I’m teared up reading this. You are an extraordinary woman and this has to be unbearable. I hope we can be a small part of the healing presence you will need in the next few months.

  • Christelle Lotze Jones via Facebook

    prayers with you, A’isha- I’ve learned much from your comments on John’s blog and FB… you have taught me and others more than you will ever know <3

  • It’s times like this when words are simply not enough, in fact words are often too much. A’isha, all I can do is pray for comfort. I’m so sorry.

  • Diana Horel via Facebook

    Just wow.

  • My heart goes out to you A’isha, I so wish I could ease the pain of your loss.

    Thank you John for writing what you have written for our friend and the woman who’s life impacted A’isha’s so beautifully, if only for a brief time.

  • Peace and comfort to your friend for her loss.

  • Meg

    I have no words.

  • so shocked and so sorry …

  • Terry

    Losing someone you love because you broke up is already painful, how much more when you lose someone unexpectedly and could never have the chance to be with them again. My heart to you A’isha. Be strong and know that you are and never will be alone. Though I’m far from you, consider me your friend. Thanks John sharing this to us.

  • Narelle Friar via Facebook

    heartfelt words John <3

  • textjunkie

    Oh A’isha, I’m so sorry. May you grow into a new peace…

  • Ric Booth

    I am so sorry for your loss, A’isha.

  • Brighid Rose via Facebook

    i’m so so sorry for her loss. to feel like you’ve waited so long for someone and found her, then to have her taken in such a violent and tragic way, i can’t get my head around it. i will say a prayer for A’isha and send her love.

  • Dave Bowling

    A’isha – I have no words to express my feelings about your loss. To say you are in my thoughts and prayers during this time seems insufficient. Thank you for allowing John to tell what has occurred in a most touching way. All of your blog friends grieve with you and wish we could reach through the internet to give you comfort.

  • Linda Bale via Facebook

    John tell A’iasha I am so srroy for her tradgety. I am keeping good thoughts for her and you all. Can’t understand life at times like these.

  • Mindy

    A’isha, I have no words to offer, none that can possibly touch the heart of your pain. When John told me of your loss, I could hardly breathe. When I asked Joerdan if John could use her story for you, she was visibly moved. I shared it with him only because I loved it and wanted another writer’s thoughts on how to encourage her. I am touched that it meant something to you.

    We are thinking of you, sending you thoughts and prayers of love and healing and peace.

  • A’isha, there aren’t words big enough for your heartbreak and loss. I am praying for you.

    Mindy, Joerdan’s writing is beautiful. She has a gift, and I’m thrilled she has a parent like you to encourage her and nurture her skills.

  • My most sincere condolences…I am profoundly sorry for your loss!

  • A’isha

    I’ve read through the comments, and your words comfort me. At times I’m still finding this difficult to believe. I had only 1 month and 2 days with the love of my life, but there was never a doubt that’s what she was…the one. We made so many plans…the fair this week with my kids and her step-son, a wedding Saturday of a mutual friend, dinner with another mutual long-term friend who will be in town…and now I have to do all these things without her. Our dreams of a November 2012 wedding, here in WA if the law passes or in NY if it doesn’t, will never happen. I’m left with a gaping hole in my heart. But when I woke up this morning, I was dreaming of her. She sounded and felt so real that I wanted to stay there forever, talking to her, holding her. Then I woke up the rest of the way and the smile was replaced by the crushing reality that she’s gone.

  • Anne Young via Facebook

    I am so so sorry for A’isha, cannot express the sadness.

  • what a shame. God bless, Aisha.

  • …a little close to home…unbelievable tragedy, my heart goes out to A’iasha and yourself John. i am so sorry that this has happened to you all. may the peace of God conquer your hearts again…

  • john

    Love and prayers A’isha. We mour with you today. You are loved.

  • I am so sorry for your loss, A’isha 🙁

  • Sad sad sad …..

  • It isn’t right. It isn’t fair. “Tragic” only begins to scratch the surface.

    My heart goes out to you, A’isha.

  • 🙁

    I’m sorry to hear about this A’isha, I might not know you but it breaks my heart when people’s hearts break.

  • Tziedel Tammas via Facebook

    dear god…

  • Wow, I think my emotions are now on a wild roller coaster ride. Speechless,thanx for posting. I loved Joerdon’s writing!

  • Liza Hernandez via Facebook

    There are just no words. I’m so sorry this happened A’isha. <3

  • My heart is broken for your loss A’isha. I pray that God will send his angels to wrap you in his comforting love and give your heart ease in this time of grief.

  • Susan in NY

    A’isha, I’ve been thinking of you all day. I am so sorry for your terrible loss. I’ll be praying for you.


  • A’isha, since I met you through TWC, you have often sent me encouraging comments and messages. I wish I could respond at this time with even a fraction of your amazing sensitivity and love, but I am afraid anything I might say will seem to shallow. Please know that all your friends at Rainbow Community Church and Light House of Hope Fellowship Christian fellowship in Vancouver are with you in prayer. We love you.

  • Lloyd Peacock

    I was first introduced to this angel known as A’isha when I read a post by her on Kathy Baldock’s Blog; Canyonwalker. I was immediately drawn to her by her wisdom and love for God’s people. We became friends on Facebook and chatted about her not having a lgbt friendly church in her community. I tried to convince her to travel to a service at our church: “Lighthouse of Hope Christian Fellowship.” Then the shocking news of Rene’s death came and I’m still in shock. However I do know in my spirit, that God will use this tragedy to bring healing to many. A’isha you know that you are in Bob and my hearts and prayers. And every member of Lighthouse of Hope and Rainbow Community Church are praying for you. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need to talk. May you be comforted under His Wings.

  • My love and prayers go out to you, A’isha – they’re all I have to offer. Wishing you peace and respite from your pain. I am so sorry for your loss.

  • cat rennolds

    oh a’isha….my very dear…i am so sorry…

  • A’isha Leslie Marbach via Facebook

    All your kindness is truly felt. Thank you.

  • DR

    Mindy, she’s extraordinary.

  • Eva

    I’m so sorry A’isha. Accept peoples love and support at this terrible time.

  • DR

    John you can delete this if it’s not appropriate but just once – just f’ing once – I’d love to see a conservative christian who “loves the sinner but hates the sin” express some kind of compassion in this scenario. If you really “love the sinner” you’d say SOMETHING. But you don’t, none of you who are here regularly have said a damn thing to try to console or comfort this human being who’s just lost a massive part of her life. We all understand grief. All of us have to deal with loss, it’s the universal condition. You just choose not to, you instead prefer to keep this discussion at some kind of “theology” level where you don’t actually have to deal with men and women who are gay on any kind of human level,

    Which is your choice. Your silence on this thread says so much more about you than any kind of “Let’s go to the Bible and read why you’re all wrong” kind of commentary. And it’s why I don’t believe any of you who say you love the sinner and hate the sin. If you loved her? You’d show up here, you’d be the first ones to show up here. And none of you are here. So next time instead of playing the “why is everyone so angry with me card”, remember your silence on this thread. You had a chance to show up and *demonstrate* the so-called love you have and you didn’t do it. That will tell you why people just simply don’t believe you.

  • Skip Johnston

    Sometimes I want to go up to God and just smack him in the face.


    “What are you doing!” I want to say.

    And then I remember: Oh yeah, that’s already been done.

    So I read blogs like this, read Johns’ words and the words of A’isha and so many of the posters here and I can see that God is working in the world.

    And then I see what happened to Rene and A’isha and even John hasn’t words. I don’t have any words, A’isha. Just a cloudy heart and prayers.

    And then John posts Joerdan’s words. I don’t get it but I can see God’s still working.

  • A’isha

    DR, I don’t know if you remember from my past comments but I attend a church that isn’t gay-affirming or accepting. But the love that has been shown to me by so many from there has surpassed what I ever would have imagined. Many of them didn’t even realize I was gay, possibly because they didn’t want to think a Christian could be. I feel as though God is going to open some doors for me to explain how I came to the point of reconciling my faith in God with my God-given sexuality, how I submitted to God and prayed for him to bring a woman into my life if it was his will, that I wouldn’t go looking for one on my own. How I truly believe God brought Rene to me to love.

  • DR: I don’t mind what you said here; I certainly appreciate the sentiment behind it. All I ask, please, is that if anyone even a LITTLE BIT begins, because of it, anything that’s even slightly hostile or contentious, someone here immediately let me know. Thanks, you guys. Bless you all.

  • writer from ireland

    I have nothing clever or wise to say. Life is shit writ large! Come Lord Jesus! Please come!

  • Mindy

    Thank you, DR. I am so blessed to have these two amazing daughters in my life. And she really seems glad that her words mattered to A’isha, a woman she’s never met.

  • Megan Turner

    A’isha – There are no correct words. There is only love, and prayers for peace and healing, and more love. May you be constantly aware of God with you.

  • May you find comfort even in the darkest night. Prayers for you and for all who are living with the pain of loss.

  • A’isha

    I’m so deeply sorry for your loss, Rene must have truly been a special soul, since God in His perfect wisdom wanted her with Him. I morn your loss and I don’t know wht it is like to lose someone that you love so dearly. I have lost an elderly parent, but that’s different. May God give you the peace in your soul that “all things work togther for good to them that love God and are called according to his purpose”.

  • DR, I noticed that too. Sometimes people don’t know what to say. Grief leaves a lot of people lacking words. And sometime silence is better than any number of inane and shitty things people could say. Your note reminded me though of the first time I read Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott and in reflecting on it and her, admittedly, difficult life I wrote this:

    “Anne reminds us that God loves us when no one else does or seems to, including ourselves. God shows up. God gives us baggies of dimes when we need them most and the grace to still accept them and pass them on to others when we don’t. God sits quietly in the corner during our most lonely and desperate hours reassuring us that we are not alone. As Anne says, “I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”


    It reminds me too of this: “To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not… him it is sin.” James 4:17

    But one of the best things someone ever told me happened the last time I lost someone I deeply loved. She said, “Ah, honey. I hate it too.”

    We all hate it together, with our friend A’isha who is suffering.

  • Melody

    So heartbreaking. I can’t begin to imagine how you must feel. Love, compassion, and comfort to you during this time.

  • Melody

    I agree with DR, she is an incredible, sensitive writer. I’m admittedly not much of a crier, but her story was so eloquent and very moving.

  • Diana A.

    A’isha, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this time.

  • A’isha I am so very very sorry for your loss. I’m sure it’s very little comfort right now, but maybe God brought you two together to help make the rest of Rene’s life wonderful and full of love. I really don’t want to believe God has anything to do with the awful stuff that happens, but is there to comfort and love us afterward.

  • DR

    I think you’re amazing and set such an example of Grace in action.

  • Donald Rappe

    A’isha, you have my deepest sympathy. I know words often are no help. Yet, I have nothing else, so here comes a little more Bible thumpin’.

    “Whether we live, we live to the Lord, whether we die, we die to the Lord, whether we live or die therefore, we are the Lord’s”.

    “Love never ends.”

    “We mourn, but, we do not mourn as ones who have no hope.”

  • Read this late last night, and don’t know you too well, even online-wise – but… I’ll do the only thing I can, in the absence of adequate words:

    *Stands and offers the cyber-equivalent of a hug.*

  • A’isha,

    oh sweet sister, i am so so sorry for your loss. i know that words are so empty right now. i could say i am holding you in light and love, but that is meaningless in the pain that you are in. but it is the truth, i am holding you in light and love. it matters to me that you are hurting so very much right now. i will light a candle for your beloved. i am sharing a poem that has always comforted me when death visits. it will not comfort you now, but maybe later….

    I am standing by the seashore.

    A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze

    and starts for the blue ocean.

    She is an object of beauty and strength,

    and I stand and watch

    until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud

    just where the sun and sky come down to mingle with each other.

    Then someone at my side says, ‘There she goes!

    Gone where? Gone from my sight – that is all.

    She is just as large in mast and hull and spar

    as she was when she left my side

    and just as able to bear her load of living freight

    to the places of destination.

    Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

    And just at the moment when someone at my side says,

    ‘There she goes! ‘ ,

    there are other eyes watching her coming,

    and other voices ready to take up the glad shout :

    ‘Here she comes!’

  • Pam Suggs

    This is both encouraging and heartbreaking…filled with Jesus…

  • Erika Beseda-Allen via Facebook

    A’isha, i just FM you, i am down in Portland, i know i am 6 hours away. but i am close by phone or email…((hugs))

  • Suz

    A’isha, you yourself are among the first people I would call upon to comfort someone who’s suffering. I can only sit here with a crack in my heart, and sent you my love.

  • AnnBear

    I don’t know you, A’isha, but I do know your pain. All I can do is offer you my love, my support and my prayers.

    May God provide you comfort beyond all understanding during this time and always.

  • RoeDylanda

    A’isha, I am so sorry about Rene, and that you had so little time with her here. You have such a gift for comforting others, I hope you in turn are comforted now and in the future. Love to you.

  • Lili

    I haven’t checked in on this blog for a while because I’ve been buried at work and no time for extra “net surfing”. I was horrified that the first thing I saw was this very sad news. A’isha, I don’t know you personally but have appreciated the many words of sidom you have posted here. I can’t begin to imagine your heartbreak, nor can I think of any words that are likely to bring you much comfort. I haven’t read all of the other posts here but I am sure they are all sending you our individual and collective condolenses and support. I add mine as well. I am so sorry for this terrible thing that has happened to Rene. I pray that there are those close to you who will be able to provide comfort, support, and love as you grapple with your grief.

  • DMK

    Mindy, very beautiful writing. Joerdan had me swept up into the dance. I think the best way you can encourage her talent is to just be there and read whatever she wants you to and offer your honest opinion.

  • DMK

    A’isha… Words cannot express the sorrow I feel for your loss. You are in my prayers. You have been kind to me in your comments and though I’ve not been reading John’s blog for a long time, I want you to know that your comments have been invaluable to me.

    I can not offer wise words, though I wish I could. All I know is that it’s your time to grieve. It’s my fervent prayer that you will eventually find a way to turn this tragedy into something that will honor Rene’s memory.

    Much peace and love from the east coast of the U.S.

  • Erin D.

    I have no words, only tears and prayers. May God be with you, A’isha.

  • DJ

    LOVE, PEACE, AND HUGS to you, A’isha. So very sorry for your loss 🙁

  • Lloyd Peacock

    DR, I have been searching the Scriptures for years and still cannot find the term: ” Love the Sinner but Hate the Sin.” Nor can I find “Gay Agenda ,” ” Radical Homosexual,” or the many little buzz-words used to describe LGBT people. The one thing that Jesus spoke about so often seems to be lacking in a time of grief: “Love ” God will use the foolish to confound the wise. Please Lord, I pray that You will use me. Amen.

  • Mary

    A’isha, we don’t know each other, but I want to say that I’m so, so sorry for your loss. There are no words really that will comfort you, especially from strangers. Just know that my heart goes out to you in your time of pain and loss.

  • JulieD

    I have nothing smart to add, A’isha, except to join my voice with all the others in support and sympathy. And in the hope that someday, it will all make sense. Hugs and blessings.

  • Chad Jeremy

    <3 !!

  • Robert


    It took me three attempts before I could finish John’s blog entry…

    What happened to you was/is horrible… nothing compares to the pain of having love violently ripped away… the only thing that I can say… the only thing that helped me through the pain… were these words:

    The amount of pain you are feeling is your monument to the love you shared with Rene. Honor it as your tribute to her and her life.

    It is not much… but it help me.

    With love and hugs… Robert

  • Don Whitt


    I am so sorry that this happened. It’s not fair. You’ve been through so much. My hope is that your pain subsides and you find some reason in all of the insanity. I believe there is something hiding beneath all of this – something you’ll discover about yourself, about God, about love. That’s my hope for you.

    This community is here for you. That’s little consolation, but we’re here and we are touched deeply by your story and are praying for you and love you. That’s all I can say. Words just don’t cut it. I’m so sorry.

  • Don Whitt

    And Mindy, your daughter’s poem is beautiful – she has a gift. Thank you for letting us in on that.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Firstly, A’isha, my condolences—whatever solace there might be in weak, worn, belated words of some random nobody like me.

    Secondly, perhaps easily overlooked in light of what God has so suddenly, tragically, by whatever unfathomable cause–if there be any at all–taken away, it amazes me to read here what God has given in the powerful, beautiful words of—most astonishingly—a thirteen year-old! Wow!

  • Matthew Tweedell!

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Yes, I still exist—been, well, busy (ok… not all the time: a bit lacking in volition for a spell as well).

    Like what you’ve done with the place in the meantime.

  • i am in tears as i type this. i cannot but be moved by the poignant words shared here. Being at a complete and utter loss for coherence, all i can do is offer to you my sincerest prayers that the days and weeks to come will somehow ease the pain and suffering you are currently feeling. This is so hard to type – it hurts to look at mere words on a screen, knowing that they likely mean less than nothing in the face of such pain and suffering and tragedy. God’s blessings to you. i hope that you are somehow able to find peace and comfort in time (i know from experience that it does not happen overnight).

    boy jesse

  • Wendy

    Wow. Unimaginable. I have no words. Leslie, I’m just terribly, terribly sorry for your loss. I pray that you find some peace, support, comfort . . . I’m so sorry.

    Mindy . . . know one needs to tell you, you already know . . . one have one very gifted daughter.

  • Jim Farris via Facebook

    Prayers going out. I’ve been through this vigil a few time and any extra energy and peace is always appreciated. I wish a peaceful transition for all those involved.

  • Charlotte L. Blackmer via Facebook

    Love and prayers to all of you.

  • Prayers and Reiki for a good, gentle passing and lots of love for all involved!

  • Janet Ivey via Facebook

    Prayers being said and love and healing thoughts.

  • Damon Gray via Facebook

    Prayers and Godspeed

  • Rick Reiley via Facebook

    Thoughts and prayers on their way.

  • Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your
    servant Susan. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive her into the arms of your mercy,
    into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the
    glorious company of the saints in light. Amen.

  • My prayers for you both. May you be comforted as you are now comforting.

  • Liza Chigos via Facebook

    ‘like’ doesn’t fit…sending prayers…

  • Love and Light surround you…

  • Elizabeth Humphrey via Facebook

    Can’t like, but sent a prayer.

  • Sarah Strong via Facebook


  • praying for peace and strength. God surrounds you….

  • Mindy

    Thanks, Wendy. She was in awe when I told her how and why John wanted to use it. She is one of the most intuitive, soulful people I’ve ever met. And Leslie is a gift, a friend – and one of the strongest people I’ve been honored to know. I only wish somehow all of this could take her pain away. I am glad that Susan is surrounded by love.

  • Amen on the prayers above. and adding my prayers.

  • Lauren Maurer via Facebook

    praying… _/|_

  • Yes, my thoughts are with you Leslie and Susan. But more than that, the arms of our gracious Father are around you both. His word to you both is Yes. He will never leave you.

  • Libby Serkies

    Only when you have known great love can you know great grief… my heart goes out to A’isha. Please know that even those who have never met you are surrounding you tonight and in the days to come with our prayers for your healing. You who have given so much to others thru your calling to help and heal must now receive. Peace is my prayer for you as you grieve, my sister. Peace now and always…

  • oh no. Leslie, you are so wonderful and I’m so sorry. <3

  • Patricia L. Money via Facebook

    Yes, Leslie and Susan will most certainly lifted in my prayers for peace, comfort and strength for lays ahead. I’ll keep you there too John.

  • Diana Avery via Facebook

    I have no words. Leslie, my thoughts and prayers are with you and Susan at this time.

  • sending love . . . peace . . . strength . . . release . . . hugs . . . sweet smiles . . .

  • May the transition from this life to the next be peaceful. Loving thoughts are with Leslie and Susan.

  • May it be peaceful, that’s what we all would want. And how blessed that she has a loved one there with her. Prayers and loving energy sent.

  • Lynne Jacobson via Facebook

    Prayers for Susan, Rene, Leslie and all who love them.

  • Allie

    I noticed this has been bumped, and I’m not sure the commenters have noticed the date. Isn’t there a post subsequent to this one from Leslie? If not, how is she doing these days, almost a year after Rene’s death?

  • Diana A.

    Hey Allie!

    From John’s FB Page: “Hi, all. One of the lead admins of the FB page for Unfundamentalist Christians (for which I wrote the 16-point “What We Believe” document) is Leslie Marbach. Leslie and her dear friend Susan are in need of a prayer. Even as I write this a ravaging cancer is ushering Susan out of this life and into the next. Leslie will be at Susan’s bedside throughout the weekend.

    “About a year ago Leslie’s dear girlfriend Rene was senselessly murdered. (Below is the link to something I wrote about that.) Susan was one of Rene’s best friends.

    “Please take a moment to pray for, or send some love to, Leslie and Susan. Thank you. Our best to you and your loved ones.”

    This is why there are so many responses to this now. Does that explain?

  • Allie

    Ah, thank you. I avoid FB and hadn’t seen that. Many prayers for peace for Susan and Leslie.

  • Elizabeth

    It really does make me speechless, days later.

  • Elizabeth

    Leslie and Susan, I can’t begin to pray well enough for you. I just haven’t reached that acceptance of the ways of God.

    If I may, though, I’d like to send a poem to Joerdan. It’s one of my favorites from when I was nine or ten. It’s from A Swiftly Tilting Planet, the third book of Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quartet. Those books inspired many of my earliest ideas on faith, intelligence, and science. L’Engle was, among many accolades, the librarian at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

    It’s a version of Patrick’s rune. The exact wording changes over the course of the book. It’s supposed to protect the hero and heroine, two genius siblings, so they can save Earth from nuclear holocaust. I’m thirty-eight, and I still pray with it when life looks bleak. Sometimes trading songs is the best we can do.

    In this fateful hour,

    I place all Heaven with its power,

    And the sun with its brightness,

    And the snow with its whiteness,

    And the fire with all the strength it hath,

    And the lightning with its rapid wrath,

    And the wind with its swiftness along its path,

    And the sea with its deepness,

    And the rocks with their steepness,

    And the Earth with its starkness

    All these I place

    Between myself and the powers of darkness.