The Torch of Love
by Mary Jo Thayer
A little angel named Jeannette Isabella Conley came into the lives of hundreds of people and, without speaking a word, uttered loud and clear the message of Hope Eternal for the ten weeks that was to mark her life on Earth. This sweet and small Trisomy 18 babe forever changed the hearts of her family and, because of the way the family–especially her mother, Patsy,–used the gifts of faith and wisdom to seek the joy of the experience, the conversion of hearts even extended back to Michigan to the Conleys’ former homeschooling family and, indeed, beyond.
The day of Jeannette’s funeral, a couple hundred people from the Lansing, MI, area gathered at the Conleys’ old parish to celebrate Jeannette’s life with a funeral liturgy to match the one in their new state of North Carolina. We had the same readings and the same music at the same time of day. Even the eulogy, written by Jeannette’s father, Kevin, was read by his good friend and former golf partner. There was not a dry eye in the place!
This family touched the lives of us while they lived in Michigan and Jeannette, a baby none of us ever met, etched in our hearts the song of Love with a flame so strong that none of us will ever forget her. As the Christmas hymn is named, “Bring a Torch”, Jeannette Isabella, this wee one of God not only brought the torch but also keeps it afire to show the world the light and power of the Christ Child. God bless you, Jeannettie, and please pray for us!