Miriam Beza Mengistu

(March 21, 2000-April 26, 2005)

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Looking back at the last several years, we see that the amazing grace of God has been carrying us through, and is continuing its healing process that started in 2007.  We don’t believe that time heals, as the saying goes, but that God is the Healer.  

We are in awe at His unique touch in our lives that has allowed us to do everything possible to keep Miriam’s memory fresh in everyone’s mind, that her beauty, her contagious smile, her bubbly personality and her love for people is not forgotten.  We are eternally grateful for the many friends who have stood besides us from the very beginning and still have not ceased to do so.

With this short story of a short-lived life, we thought of sharing our hearts mainly with those of you who’ve known, seen from far away, or even be-friended Miriam and still remember her.

Miriam was born in Fairfax, VA on a beautiful sunny day, in fact the second day of spring 2000. She lived only five short years, but left us – family and friends – a ton of beautiful memories!  In fact, spring is no ordinary season for Miriam’s family; it brings a lot to mind: peaceful, sunny morning strolls, walking and naming each and everything on the way; waving at neighbors, or even talking to a few; picking, blowing, or smelling dandelions, or even counting how many lay on those green fields that day.  These mornings were Miriam’s favorite time to pick some of these wild flowers, stick them in her braids, and then carefully walk home so they don’t fall, to show them off to her sisters.

 

Miriam is remembered by many for her captivating smile on her radiant little face!  No wonder we sometimes called her “Sunshine”.  Who will forget her hoping along in her church hallway each Sunday morning, or running breathlessly to meet her big friend “Ms. Beberly” (for Beverly), her Sunday School teacher!  Yes! Ms. Beberly was always there to give Miriam not only her ears, but her heart and soul, just pouring her love on this little girl who truly loves her.  Will we ever forget Miriam’s constant giggles at the silliest thing?  Her sneaky smile to Gashe Zawdoo (for Uncle Zewdu) before he picks her up or tries to tickle her? Don’t we recall her love for gum and candy, clutching her paper bag from Sunday School till we walked home for lunch, and she finally gets to enjoy her goodies?  How about her breathless running to her favorite church friends, usually much older than her?  She loved those “big people” for the attention, compliments and hugs she always got.  “She is a celebrity”, her sisters once said!

 

Miriam’s mornings used to start with choosing what to wear and insisting on her choice.  Then comes breakfast time where she is given a choice between three of her favorite food:  oatmeal, pb&j or cereal.  There she goes again putting her thinking cap, lifting her big eyes, and saying:  “let me think…. Let me think…” and then exclaiming right away, loud and clear, with her big smile: “aja!”, oatmeal in Amharic (the Ethiopian language).  “aja” again, for the 100th time!  Next, it’s time for the exciting 10-minute ride to school in the back of the mini-van, and then, the routine: put a back-pack twice her size on her back, go up the stairs to the pre-school entrance --counting each step out loud -- up to the door, then type in the code to have the door opened.  Her favorite routine then was to take a couple little footsteps to the computer to sign herself in, saying the code out loud, thus making everyone around smile! Then follows her melodious

Big Sister's Love

by Ruth, Miriam’s older sister, age 13 (May 2005)

 

She was a big ball of energy

Bursting with happiness,

She galloped through the halls,

And grinned before she burst into laughs.

Her smile made Him smile,

Which made her smile,

And made us smile.

It was a dark and stormy night,

Thunder rolled and lightening flashed.

In the minivan,

We sadly ignored safety regulation,

For the short, innocent drive

Became an unexpected nightmare!

The van fell on its side,

And soon we realized that

More damage had been done.

Where was she???

And then it was seen.

The pink velvet with matching shoes

Were all that was shown.

The rest was crushed with the weight of the car.

The rest is crushed and is history.

She was a big ball of energy

Bursting with happiness,

She galloped through the halls,

And grinned before she burst into laughs.

 

Her smile made Him smile,

Which made her smile,

And made us smile.

“Good morning Ms. Phyllis” with a radiant face, smiling as if she is about to burst into laughter.  Ms. Phyllis gladly receives her usual warm and generous hug and follows her little student with her eyes, smiling at her, as she moves on to hung her jacket or backpack, all along stalling the process and showing off her little ‘turf’.  Her pace suddenly changes, however, the minute she peeks through her classroom window and sees who’s there that morning:  a hurried kiss to her mom always proves that Sarah, Sarah Latham, her little best friend, is already there.

 

At an early age, Miriam was interested in books, most probably because she’s seen her two older sisters’ love for reading.  She would urge and sometimes beg them to read her stories.  The old Pulaski County Library, was her most favorite place for books, new friends, coloring.  This is where she met another two “big people” friends, Ms. Carol and Ms. Vicky, who rejoice having kids around and know each one by name.  That was the place for fun, hide in the tree house,

play with puppets, computer games, and anticipate for the end: a balloon, a lollipop and a sticker.  It won’t be too long to return to this exciting place, with the many books brought home, read through numerous times, or skimmed through over and over again.

It is no wonder that setting up a library to honor Miriam’s short life would make sense:  a children’s library, in Ethiopia, just for children, so they can come and experience the joy Miriam once had!  We were thrilled to finally put a hand on what we could do to honor our Miriam… and that was big!!

     Azeb and Mengistu Yemane
     Ruth and Leeya