Lillia Ava Rae Walsh
C.S. Lewis wrote about death in A Grief Observed. He said, “Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.” In The Problem of Pain Lewis tells us that pain is God’s “megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” These words ring true and, God, we are listening. Give us ears to hear.
Lillia Ava Rae Walsh was a daughter, granddaughter, sister, niece, godmother and friend. She was radiant, impossibly sweet, considerate and loving. She was artistic, sarcastic, intelligent and she was a child of God. She graduated from West Salem High School and was attending Western Technical College. In her short life she worked at Jolivette Family Farms, Linda’s Bakery, Le Chateau, La Crosse Distilling and Western Technical College. She was born on August 21st, 1999 and she died peacefully on Friday, August 16th, 2019. She was 19 years old.
While she was with us, she cared an uncommon amount. She loved her family and friends with ferocity but still found unconditional support and love for those suffering, the souls on the fringe of society and the persecuted. She loved animals and marveled at creation. Lillia was a talented artist whose spirit lives on in her work. She championed women and was unyieldingly inspired by females who stood up and carried a cross for their cause. She had a passion for doing the right thing (even when unpopular), living thoughtfully, and being genuine and good. She embodied goodness. She embodied love. She was vexed by the wrongs in this world; her heart broke from racism, persecution of immigrants, refugees and the fringe groups of society, environmental deterioration and the ills that make humans inhumane.
She was a baptized and confirmed child of God and saw Him and knew Him through church, in the fields, on the breeze and among the trees, wildflowers and trails of Grandad Bluff. She had a passion for the natural beauty of this world, and she spent her time being in it and taking care of it.
Lillia died from chronic, invasive and ultimately, terminal depression. For as much joy as she brought, she carried an insurmountable amount of darkness. She soaked up pain like a sponge and a chemical imbalance made it impossible for her to shed this burden. She passed into a pain-free eternity while writing about her sorrow—and the sadness she knew she would cause her loved ones. She wanted us to forgive her for the grieving she is causing, while begging us to ALL fight for the causes she held dear. While this might be difficult to comprehend, her agony and pain aren’t for us to understand or judge. Our calling is to faith, hope and love.
She knew the depths of despair and the cruel reality of living in the unrelenting grip of depression. She also knew the depths of her family’s love. She knew grace and now she knows peace. In the book of Isaiah 42:3 we read, “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.” Ultimately, the Lord knows those who are His and does not let mental illness rob His children of saving faith. God is bigger than our woes, He is bigger than our suffering—death will not have the final word. Romans 8:39 says, “Neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God is love. We will hold onto that with our whole hearts as the sun brings light to each new day.
Lillia leaves behind a wealth of loving friends and family, including her parents, Adriane (Forseth) and Ben Rice; Pat and Kate (Harkness) Walsh. Her brother, Max Walsh. Her great grandpa, Ralph Scheck; her grandmothers, Sandy Walsh, Mary Harkness and Judith Rice, grandfather, Randy Rice and her grandparents, Hal and Connie (Scheck) Forseth. Her sisters, Haeli (Brandon) Pedretti, Alyssa (fiancé Ean Hesselberg) Hansen, April (fiancé Sean O’Hern) Hansen. Her nieces: Haedyn, Kennedy and Lyla; and her nephew and beloved godson Blake. Her uncles Larry (Sandy) Walsh, Dan Walsh and aunt Jean Marie Smith. Uncle Eric (Allison) Forseth and aunt Emma (Benjamen) Goldbeck. Godparents Steven (Sue) Scheck and Anne (Randy) Scheck and her honorary family, Doug, Rose, Cole and Mallorie Trautsch. She was preceded in death by her grandfather Bernard Walsh Jr. and her great grandmother, Rae Scheck, with whom she shared a remarkable bond.
In her poem, The Summer Day, Mary Oliver writes: “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
On behalf of Lillia, we encourage you all to live it, love it, don’t litter, use metal straws, be curious, be kind. Embrace what is right and care enough to alter things that are wrong in this world. Be a good steward, a good friend, a good citizen. Destigmatize mental illness and suicide—talk about it with an open mind and loving heart. Lillia asked that we all kiss as many dogs as we can for her—Felix and Rocco will miss that about her. And finally, commit yourself to decency—to creation and to each other—every chance you get.
There will be a time of remembrance at The Gathering Place (133 Mason St, Onalaska) on Friday, August 23rd from 4-8 PM with prayer and spoken tributes from all who wish to do so beginning at 7:30. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred. A portion of her memorials will be used to support an environmental cause close to Lillia’s heart.
To view Lillia’s memorial video, please use the following link. https://www.tributeslides.com/tributes/show/98WG8MZWC3Q6S458?e=1