Diane Lee was my youngest sister and Allison and Amy Lee were her daughters. Today, we come together from all over the country to celebrate their lives. In our hearts, we know that their lives were cut short by a terrible tragedy, but we gain solace in knowing that their lives were filled with love, passion for important things, and dedication to their family, church, and community.
In my vase are one rose and two rose buds. The rose in full bloom symbolizes the vibrancy of Diane's life and the two buds just beginning to blossom represent Allison and Amy's young lives. Together they make a beautiful bouquet.
Let me tell you about Diane, Allison, and Amy. One of my childhood memories is when Diane was 4 and I was 11, she would beg me again and again to read to her. When I would tire, she would go to Dave, Pat, or my mom and dad and beg them for "just one more." I think her love of reading as a child translated into her love of learning and academics throughout her life.
After a challenging academic career and exciting professional opportunities, Diane met Andy at the Tuesday Night Bible Study (TNBS) in New Jersey. As their love grew, they thought long and hard about where they wanted to live. As you might guess, Diane researched their options. And they chose you, the Nashville community. What a fortuitous decision that was! They worked hard to establish their business, to select just the right church, and to develop relationships with new friends.
But their lives were not complete. My sister Pat remembers a conversation that we had with Diane even before she met Andy. We were visiting her in Vienna when Diane was working with the United Nations. Diane knew she wanted a family some day and she told us so in spite of her seeming focus on her career. And so it was Amy and Allison who completed her life, and then they were a family Andy, Diane, Allison and Amy.
Thank you for sharing stories about Allison and Amy with us. We saw them at holidays and for special visits, but not as much as many of you. Their personalities, their senses of humor, their talents and gifts...all of that was just starting to emerge. Allison had a beautiful voice. We can only guess how she would have used that talent. Amy was serious, and took in everything the adults around her said. With her inquisitiveness, her life was full of promise.
There are special things that we all remember about Diane. Diane loved to sing. If you ever stood next to her while singing in church, you were likely inspired to raise your voice in praise along with Diane. One of her Vienna friends who was studying to become an opera singer told her that with training, she could have chosen a route to the operatic stage.
Diane was, however, trained as a scientist and as a manager. Many of you have commented to us that she was "so organized". That must have come from her training because none of us can remember a clean bedroom. We had just a glimpse of her organizational skills when we reviewed her electronic address book during the past weeks. You were all in it complete with email addresses, special connections, birthdays, and sometimes even directions to your houses.
And of course, anyone who has ever given Diane a hug knows that her hugs were BIG hugs. That's how she told us that she loved us.
We take great comfort in learning about Diane's contributions to the Nashville community in recent years. You were the ones who saw how she lived her faith. You were the ones who worked with her on special church, school, and community projects. You were the ones who saw evidence of her commitment to public education. And you were the ones who saw her passion for helping others, especially the disenfranchised. We, her family, were quite honestly unaware of the depth of her contributions to Nashville. Just think what could happen around this country if we followed Diane's lead and took her passion and dedication back to our own communities. Bouquets like this would bloom and blossom all over the country.
The Brown and Lee families want to thank the Forest Hills UMC congregation and the Brentwood community for their outpouring of love and compassion to us during the last few weeks. After the Wednesday night prayer service was held here at the Methodist church, my sister, Pat, commented that she had "felt your prayers." We especially appreciate the many ways you are continuing to support Andy during his long and difficult recovery.
Diane had made but one request in writing in the event she were to die. She asked that the Hymn of Promise be sung by the congregation. At the conclusion of the service today we will join together in singing this hymn. I just have to believe that Diane, Amy, and Allison will be listening to us as we sing these words:
In our end is our beginning,
In our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing;
In our life, eternity.
In our death, a resurrection;
At the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season,
Something God alone can see.