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updated: 11/16/2013 5:34 PM

Geneva mom remembers, honors daughter with book

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  • Donna Mebane of Geneva wrote about book in order stay connected with her daughter, Emma, who died in July 2011.

    Donna Mebane of Geneva wrote about book in order stay connected with her daughter, Emma, who died in July 2011.
    Courtesy of Donna Mebane


The loss of a young person devastates family and friends, but Donna Mebane of Geneva discovered fairly quickly that tomorrow comes.

So much so that she wrote a book with that title to stay connected with her 19-year-old daughter, Emma, who died in her sleep from unknown causes on July 8, 2011.

Only weeks after Emma's passing, Donna began keeping notes and reviewing the messages Emma's friends were sending on Facebook.

Before she knew it, the premise behind "Tomorrow Comes" was falling into place: Those left behind can continue to connect with a loved one who has died. In the book, Emma is on a journey in the "after," and the power of love allows her to continue to communicate with family and friends.

"My family talks about absolutely everything, almost to a fault, but I found that we struggled with how to talk about Emma after her death," Donna said.

"We couldn't speak of her as though nothing had happened, and it was inconceivable that she be relegated to a set of memories."

The book gave family and friends a way to still have her in the present moment, Donna added, and to capture "the best of her" in the relatively safe context of a book of fiction.

Even though the book "pretty much wrote itself," Donna admits it was a difficult process and "I cried the whole time I wrote it."

"Every night I would call (Emma's sister) Sarah and read her what I had written, and then we would cry together," she said.

Once the book was published and in her hands, Donna had a sense of pride, mostly in that her family had "survived this unthinkable loss."

Ultimately, the book helped Donna believe that Emma is in a good place and happy.

"A common question that people ask when a young person dies is 'Where did you go?'" Donna says. "I didn't have a strong enough faith to answer that, so the book was the beginning of a journey to a viable solution.

"I don't know that I believe in 'after,' but in my best moments, I can imagine Emma being happy there."

Donna loves the book's cover, showing silhouettes of Emma and her beloved dog, Duck, looking toward a mysterious place as the sun comes up.

"The pose of Emma is so appropriate; I have seen it so many times," Donna says. "It indicates that she is not 100 percent confident of what lies ahead of her, but she is ready for whatever the future will bring."

Song in full bloom: St. Charles is getting ready to hear its name in a song.

Many residents will hear "In St. Charles," the city's recently anointed official song, for the first time Nov. 29.

That's when the song's creator, Jim Masters, will come to St. Charles from his Ohio home to sing it at the city's First Street Plaza during the annual holiday celebration.

Ever since Masters first sang it last summer at the 1963 St. Charles High School reunion, a group of people has been working with the Downtown Partnership to convince the city to embrace the ballad.

During the celebration, people will be handing out copies of the chorus lyrics; the complete musical score will be available in Downtown Partnership stores.

Event organizers will set up the platform for the festivities in the First Street Plaza, with the Christmas tree lot along First Street and the Fox River serving as the backdrop.

Masters, a music instructor at Ohio State University, grew up in St. Charles before moving with his family two years before he would have graduated with the Class of 1972. He wrote the song many years ago about his memories of growing up here.

Organizers will put the performance video on YouTube that residents can find using QR codes they scan with their smartphones.

Mooseheart's holiday run: Put Mooseheart on your list of holiday-themed runs or turkey trots. Mooseheart Child City and School will host the Holiday Lights Fun Walk and Run at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 23, starting at the campus field house.

What makes this rain-or-shine event a little different from some others in the area is that participants will walk or run throughout the Mooseheart campus for a sneak preview of the holiday lights display, which opens to the public the following weekend.

The walkers and runners, who all receive a Santa hat and other goodies, will see 80 holiday displays during their trek.

Events geared toward children will take place in the field house after the event. Registration is taken at

Bring us the Bulldogs: Batavia High School football fans should be thankful that Dave Lunborg and Alan Wolff volunteer for BATV to broadcast the Bulldogs games.

These guys do a lot of work to prepare themselves and the equipment for the broadcasts -- and they do it for the fun of it. Plenty of other folks make the BATV operation work as well, but Lunborg and Wolff are the guys I hear in the press box when I am covering Batavia games.

Artist's work on display: Readers may remember my story about how artist Bert Hoddinott Jr. of St. Charles kept his passion for art alive as a hobby after years of working as a graphic artist.

His work hasn't been on display at too many places, but some of his pieces are being shown at the Geneva Public Library through the rest of the month.

Just warm enough: "What? Are you trying to make the rest of us look bad?" my neighbor asked.

He was wondering why I was putting up our outdoor Christmas lights last weekend, fairly early in November.

The answer? For the most part, I don't do anything outside in the cold. When the temperature was near 60 degrees, we figured why wait? So that task was completed without getting caught on a cold, blustery day.

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