HereAfter Stories

A Smile That Lasts Forever

When my Aunt Tracy was diagnosed with stage-4 lung cancer, the news was unexpected, and her passing came quickly. In a few short months, one of my favorite people in the entire world was gone. Nothing can prepare you for that kind of sudden grief. Tracy was a remarkable figure in my life since the day I was born and moving forward without her felt impossible. She touched the hearts of anyone who had the pleasure of meeting her, especially those she loved. Even in sickness, her kindness and uplifting spirit shone so brightly when the rest of us could barely hold it together. I remember she’d grab my hand, give me the warmest smile, and say, “Everything’s going to be alright, sweet girl.” Then she was gone, and there was only silence. Painful, unwavering grief. I remember thinking, if only I could see her smile and hear her laugh just one last time.

That’s when my HereAfter message came in. “To my sweet Melanie. Love, Aunt Tracy”.

It was a video montage of my aunt from all different stages of her life: film clips of her holding me as a baby, pictures of us on birthdays, holidays, and family gatherings, and important milestones in both her life and mine. There she was, my beautiful Aunt Tracy, shining her lovely smile. The final video was taken shortly before she passed away, and in it, she said, “Everything’s going to be okay, sweet girl.” To say I teared up would be an understatement. It was a message I needed to hear spoken to me by the person I needed to hear it from. I’ll never fully be able to express how much my aunt’s HereAfter message meant to me. To see her face and smile, I felt like she was right there beside me in the room again. It’s an indescribable feeling to have a copy of her legacy that I can hold on to forever. Thank you, HereAfter, for gifting me with my aunt’s beautiful memory.

In honor of Tracy Ellen Shepard (1972 – 2023)

Story submitted by Melanie P.

Helpful Links

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
Phone number: 988

North Carolina

HopeLine: Crisis Line for North Carolina
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