Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

In memory of little Lynnaya, words of grace December 15, 2016

lynnaya-espinoza-perrizoHOW DO YOU WRITE an obituary for an 8-year-old, especially a child who was the victim in an apparent murder-suicide?

With grace, dignity and joy.

I didn’t know Lynnaya Espinoza Perrizo (listed in a Faribault Police Department news release as Lynnaya Stoddard-Espinoza). But I feel now like I do because of the words penned in her just-published obit.

She was a girly girl, a creative and giving soul who loved to give gifts, sometimes toys from her toy box. She danced. She loved—her dogs, her cousins, her brother,…Jesus.

But there’s more to her story. Little Lynnaya, at age five, endured the loss of her godmother, Jodi Oborn Perrizo, who had legal custody of Lynnaya along with her husband, Ryan Perrizo. Jodi reportedly died of a heart attack in January 2014 at the age of 39.

Eight months later, nine days before Lynnaya’s sixth birthday, her birth mom, Sarah Matheny, died at age 27. Her obit does not list a cause of death.

That’s a lot of loss for a child.

Perhaps that’s why Lynnaya is called “a leader, intuitive, strong willed and independent, with a maternal nature beyond her years.”

How many of us as adults could handle that much loss in such a short time frame?

And how many of us could write an obituary that says Lynnaya was deeply loved by “Daddy Ry Ry,” the man who according to investigators took her life. Ryan is referenced several times. In a loving way. To write that takes a great deal of courage and forgiveness and sets the tone for others to deal with this tragedy. And perhaps that is the greatest tribute anyone can give Lynnaya, to honor her with words reflecting grace and forgiveness.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Image from the Boldt Funeral Home website