Remembering the 'Princess Warrior'
During Monday's Service of Celebration for the Life of Jane Evelyn Fiemeyer, which took place in the Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary gymnasium, tears were shed and memories were shared as the 8-year-old's family, friends and fellow community members gathered to honor her life.
After a battle with cancer, Fiemeyer died Sept. 6.
Individuals lined up outside the elementary school's front doors Monday, waiting to meet Jil Fiemeyer, Jane's mother, who stood at the entrance and greeted people with a smile and a hug.
Before the ceremony, people looked at picture displays depicting Jane's life and spoke with her family members. Supporters were also able to visit Jane's casket, which sat near much of her artwork at the gymnasium's main entrance.
Vanessa Waldahl and her 4-year-old son, Zain, could be seen putting on pink cancer ribbons before the service. Like many others who attended the event, Waldahl felt as though Jane's passing hit close to home.
"She is one of the strongest little girls I know," Waldahl said as tears filled her eyes. She added that Zain used to attend day care with Jane.
A few yards from Waldahl, people signed their names and left messages on a banner for Jane and her family. Also, upbeat songs from Jane's favorite band, Nickelodeon's Big Time Rush, blasted on the loud speakers as people took their seats. The band's song, "Worldwide", could be heard when the family moved the casket toward the podium perched at the front of the gymnasium.
When Jil walked up to the microphone, she said Jane wanted her family to be brave after her death.
"When Jane and I talked about what she wanted at her funeral, she was very clear that she wanted me to talk, and she was very clear about her message," Jil said in front of a quiet crowd. "It is my privilege as her mom to stand up here today to continue to make her wishes come true, even in her death."
Jil spoke of her daughter's ability to easily befriend others. She also shared her frustration with cancer, which she referred to multiple times as "the beast."
"I admit it. I'm tired of the horrors of cancer. I'm tired of the statistics," Jil said.
But Jil's focus on the terrors of cancer was short-lived. She continued to speak of her daughter's courage.
"Despite having the odds against her, she never gave up," Jil said, adding that Jane raised $2,100.16 before she passed away, as part of a fundraising effort to find a cure for cancer that involved the sale of duct tape wallets.
And while Jil spoke of Jane's accomplishments, she also described her daughter as a "little girl who wanted to do little girl things."
Jane was able to have a slumber party shortly before cancer took her life, Jil added.
Another person who spoke of Jane was Pastor Nate Loer, who fought through tears.
"If I ever have to battle cancer, I want to fight the way Jane did," he said.
Loer also said he visited Jane in the hospital. He chuckled when he mentioned that she always referred to her IV pole as "Sheldon," a name she got from the popular comedy television series, "The Big Bang Theory".
"Such amazing courage, such amazing spunk, such amazing tenacity," Loer said.
In addition to words involving Jane's life and her fight against cancer, the crowd was also able to experience cheerful singing, in honor of the young girl. Those in attendance joined in renditions of "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" and "You Are My Sunshine".
Jil said music was often what helped her get through Jane's fight against cancer, adding that Billy Dean's "Let Them Be Little" was a song she and her family could easily relate to. She quoted the song's lyrics multiple times as she spoke of Jane, and the song could be heard from the loud speakers before the ceremony began.
While Jil admitted letting Jane go wasn't easy, she said she will always remember her daughter's "beautiful spirit."
"She was very brave, and she will always be my hero," Jil said.