A Lesson from Annie: In Memorial

Rachael Reiton
2 min readMar 10, 2016


We have all gathered together this afternoon to celebrate the life of a woman that was extraordinary beyond measure — not so much because of the adventures she and Uncle Paul had, galavanting around this beautiful country of ours, but because of the amazing gift Annie had in conveying Life to everyone around her.

I think most here know that Annie died from cancer, but what many of you may not know is that Annie’s cancer originated while she was still in the womb.

When Annie was developing in utero, one of her microscopic ovary cells got a little confused and wound up heading on over to her itty bitty colon. There that ovary cell lived, snug as a bug in her colon, for 70 years, until one day her colon realized that that ovary cell was not like the others and attacked it with a vengeance.

Sounds like a cruel joke, doesn’t it? Before she was even born, Annie was destined to get cancer.

Why does this happen?

Why does it seem that the best and brightest among us are taken from us in the most irrational, unfair, absurd, senseless ways?

What kind of god does that?

Well, if I take god out of it and just think of Annie, this is what I get:

I get an aunt who had a laugh — sometimes accompanied by the wildest snort — that would brighten up the darkest of rooms.

I get an aunt who dedicated her life up until the very end to healing people’s bodies and souls.

I get an aunt who loved me and everyone she came in contact with with an openness and acceptance that was humbling.

You couldn’t be with Annie without having your heart warmed, could you?

Remembering Annie and all that she did for each one of us — it suddenly brings God back into the picture. Reflecting on her beautiful life makes me imagine God humming to Himself as Annie is being knit together in the womb, humming along, love pouring from His fingers as He sings, “This little light of Mine, I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of Mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!”

Does it matter how long Annie had here on Earth? Does it matter for any of us?

In the full scope of the universe — no. It doesn’t. Not when we shine like Annie. Not when we love and do good and sacrifice and forgive like Annie. Because that, my friends, is what Life is all about.

Do good to others.

Love one another with your whole heart.

Let your light shine.

Annie knew that, so Annie lived that.

Let’s all be like Annie.



Rachael Reiton

Author of Marley Eats His Vegetables and Reading Toward Success: Tried-and-True Reading Practices for Raising Successful Kids. Creator of CreatingAFoodie.com