dear ones,

in march, i played at the all souls acoustic coffeehouse in tulsa.

this morning, i received the following link from angel barry pronouncing the loss of sienna, a beautiful, vibrant three year old little girl, the beloved daughter of anitra lavanhar. anitra is the kind woman who booked me for the tulsa show.

i ask that you keep the lavanhar family in your prayers during this time of tragic, and sudden, sorrow.

if you have children, love them with all your heart. perhaps, today, we can all go out into the world with more love and patience in our hearts… and touch those around you. life is so precious, so short.

thank you, bless you.
all my love,

to send condolences, please write to:
the lavanhar family
c/o all souls acoustic coffeehouse
2952 s. peoria
tulsa, ok 74114

From Tulsa World:

Girl’s death sends parents on ‘long road of healing’
By BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer

Last week, Sienna Lavanhar was playing in a sprinkler, hitting a pinata and eating cake with 12 friends at her third birthday party.

During the night last Friday, with almost no warning, the daughter of All Souls Unitarian minister Marlin Lavanhar and his wife, Anitra Lavanhar, stopped breathing as she lay between her parents in the bed in which she was born.

She died as they administered CPR and called 911.

“She was beautiful, bold, playful, full of laughter, athletic and a joy to be around,” her devastated father said. “Her love will continue to touch people far and wide.”

Sienna became ill last week, but in several visits to the pediatrician, doctors found nothing to be alarmed about, Lavanhar said.

“It turns out that Sienna had a virus that for some unknown reason attacked her heart,” he said. “These situations are extremely rare and almost impossible to detect. The doctors are trying to determine what they can about why it happened.

“We, on the other hand, are not trying to decipher why she died from a theological sense. There is no answer to that question that could possibly fill the hole in our hearts,” he said.

“We are simply trying to navigate the long road of healing that is ahead of us and doing all we can to make sure her love continues to shine through us and all who knew her.”

Lavanhar said his family’s tragedy has been eased by the support of the community.

“The incredible outpouring of support for my family from the religious communities of Tulsa across many faiths and denominations . . . is helping us shoulder the overwhelming pain and emptiness that we feel,” he said.

“A tragedy like this touches all of us as human beings and transcends all differences of religion and theology. It feels like a small town and as if the entire town is grieving with us,” he said.

“My wife and I have never felt such despair, nor have we ever felt so much love and support,” Lavanhar said. “To be experiencing both at the same time will change us forever.”

A memorial service for Sienna will be held at 4 p.m. Friday at All Souls Unitarian Church, 2952 S. Peoria Ave. Overflow parking and shuttle service will run from the B’nai Emunah parking lot at 17th Street and Peoria Avenue.

Unitarian Universalist clergy members from across the country, including the Rev. Bill Sinkford, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, will attend the service.

The nursery will be open, and programming for preschool and elementary-age children will be offered during the service, with age-appropriate memorial activities and discussion by professional grief therapists, according to Kathy Keith, executive director of the church and a religious educator in the congregation for 13 years.

“Many Unitarian Universalists believe it is our lives that count more than our beliefs,” she said. “Our children’s programming will emphasize that and the concept that the loss of any person to death should strengthen our hold on life, helping us to live more thoughtfully, more kindly and more fully in whatever time we have on earth.”

In addition to her parents, Sienna is survived by a brother, Elias; and her grandparents, Patricia Lavanhar of Las Vegas, Martin and Caroline Lavanhar of Tuxedo, N.Y., Anju Myodo of Livermore Falls, Maine, and Samuel Gugliotta of Korea.

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