On Thursday July 17th, Wendy and John Conte said goodbye to their daughter Anna. Anna suffered from a rare form of Epilepsy called Dravet’s syndrome. Her parents were monumental in the fight to provide Cannabinoid therapy to children like their Angel. Unfortunately, time and the bureaucratic processes were not on their side.
Eulogy by Anna’s father John:
Anna Olivia Conte lived a life of 9 years in a way we all try to achieve. She had no angst or anger towards anybody, no jealousy, no greed; she never had any of those feelings. Only love. She loved everybody and she got it back in return. It spread through our family, then our village and town, then people throughout New York State, then other states and even other countries. And all she ever did was love like Anna.
She did not care about race or where you were from, if you were tall and skinny, or short and round, what religion or church, rich, poor, dirty or clean.
She didn’t even worry about a person’s past. She loved like Anna no matter who you were.
Think about it for a moment; If we could love like Anna what would our lives be like?
In my wildest dreams I never thought a 9 year old who is cognitively and mentally 18-24 months old would end up being my role model when I would be in my 50′s.
But, she is.
It isn’t a gift to love like Anna. We all have it inside. The gift is to be able to be that person without even trying. And she was.
I mean isn’t it what we all want in the end, to love and be loved back?
To love like Anna?
Can a death be a spark? Can grief shift perceptions enough for change? Can missing someone’s very existence transform a group mindset?
Almost without knowing I do it, I put myself into the shoes of Anna Conte’s family. I feel so much anger. The selfish part of me wishes this grief on others. The others who have literally sat back and allowed children like Anna to die needlessly and far far too soon.
Every death of a child is profound. Every single one is met with dismay and the utter knowledge that it should not have occurred. The childhood phase of life is one that should not be filled with seizures, and medications, and mental deterioration. Yet Anna’s short life was. That in itself is criminal.
Anna’s father’s Eulogy speaks only love though. How does he do that? How is he able to set aside the blame, the anger, the angst that he undoubtedly feels for the bureaucratic process that allowed this loss to happen?
I’m just not sure I would have that strength. My anger would surely be too great.
This is senseless! This is needless! Why? Why? Why?
I’m not sure that I could pull myself upright from each day forward. How could you care about the economy, climate change, or poverty? The people who make the rules in this world, have allowed my flesh and blood to perish.
Clearly though, Anna left her mark. Like osmosis it seems like the nine years of living in and around Anna’s light, has left her father with words of wonderment for this little being. As her father states, this ability to foster, build, and grow love requires nothing but love itself.
Was this Anna’s legacy?
There are lessons to be learned in each and every death. This one even more so. A plant could have saved this one and many more. Anna’s plants are growing as I write this, their seizure-stopping cannabinoids developing day by day.
Perhaps these cannabinoids can save another angel with Dravet’s of some other form of Epilepsy or Leukemia. May Anna’s pure love burn through this grief to be the change she needed in the world.