Month: January 2017

Amanda Lee (Bensen) Fiegl, beloved wife, mother, daughter, and friend has died at 37

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles…” Isaiah 40:31

amanda-152-52-5763325This is the verse that has been in my head since my visit with Amanda a little over two weeks ago. She was waiting on the Lord with such incredible strength and grace and, while cancer stole her physical strength, I know that she has now mounted up with wings like an eagle. In her words, she now will be continually present in the Light, where there is no pain or fear. While this loss has left so many of us heartbroken, there is comfort in knowing, as she reminded me when I was walking out the door of her hospice room, that this goodbye is not forever. In dying, as in living, she amazed me with her calm wisdom. Amanda lived, loved, and experienced more in her 37 years than many twice that age. And, as many of you know, touched the lives of so many. She will be so very, very missed.

Amanda spent her final days in the hospice center with her family where hospice staff was able to keep her comfortable.

Please keep Charles and their daughter Eleanor; her parents Craig and Deb; her brother Ben and his wife Ilse and their family; her in-laws Len and Nora; and all her family and friends in your prayers.

A funeral service to celebrate Amanda’s life will be held at All Saints Church on Sunday, January 15, at 3:30 PM. A viewing also will precede the service in the church Bride’s Room starting at 2:30 PM. The address there is 3 Chevy Chase Circle Chevy Chase, MD 20815.

Her parents will also hold a memorial service for her in Vermont. Details will be forthcoming.

A special final note from Charles who wants to thank all of you who sent messages and prayers.

“Over the last week, I’ve read many of the social media posts and emails you’ve sent to her aloud (at times with great emotion and tears). Your words are wonderful remembrances and I’ll cherish them always.”

(This post was written by our dear friend, Courtney). 

On Reading, Books, and The Last Battle

Of the many sad things about Amanda dying, one of the cruelest is she can no longer read.

Amanda loves to read. Her parents will tell you that Amanda basically taught herself how to read when she’d play phonics records and practiced sounding out words. At a young age, her mom would buy her a book from a store in Burlington and she’d finish it by the time the car pulled into their driveway 45 minutes or so away.

The bookshelves in her room back in Cambridge, Vermont, and our home in Silver Spring are filled with many of her favorites. There’s too many to list here, but when we were dating she encouraged me to read Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina.” It’s the best novel I’ve ever read.

So as I thought about how Amanda can no longer enjoy the pleasure of a book, I read to her some poems from Mary Oliver (a friend had given her the book of poems “Felicity” on a recent visit). We also finished listening to a recording of Lewis’ “The Last Battle.” Amanda had listened to the Narnia books during her recent hospital stay. She discussed with a friend, the same one who gave her Oliver’s poems, about how she always felt a bit jealous of Reepicheep when the little heroic mouse chooses to go to Aslan’s country in “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”

We do see Reepicheep again at the end of The Last Battle as Aslan leads the characters back to the one true Narnia. The book ends:

And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

(This blog post is written and posted by Amanda’s husband, Charles).


bedside-tableAs of this writing, Amanda is continuing her care at the hospice’s in-patient facility. The doctors and nurses are working to keep her comfortable. The hospice staff makes adjustments to manage her pain and nausea on a daily basis.

Amanda has had several visitors and phone calls over the last few days. She’s enjoyed reminiscing about her childhood, college days, and professional career. At times, her energy wanes and brief conversations end as she nods off to sleep. Other conversations are more in-depth and filled with laughter or tears.

Last night, we discussed the anger, sorrow, and sadness expressed by those who love her. Those feelings are real, she said. But during her goodbyes, there is this constant piece of advice Amanda gives to family and friends as they grieve: Open your heart to God.

This blog entry was written by Amanda’s husband, Charles.

Lessons in Patience

rose-and-juiceI don’t understand how I’m supposed to feel when I am dying. Here I am in hospice. Doctors say I have days, maybe a week or so left. I feel very weak. I’m existing only on liquids. But generally, I feel fine. Like this could go on for months, which I hope it doesn’t. It’s rather tedious.

It’s a gift I suppose to have the opportunity to say goodbye to so many close family and friends one-by-one, but when that’s all done then what? I pray most nights not to wake up, for a peaceful nontraumatic ending. Those around me will know where I have gone.

In the meantime, I’m finding the simplest of pleasures in what is allowed for me. The impossible brightness of a fresh pink rose on a gloomy morning. The sweetness of a glass of orange juice. The fierce sincerity of an old friend’s final hug. The thousand dots and dashes of Morse code that run unspoken in a single glance between husband and wife.