story by Leah Millis
Faith Bennett, 16, climbs onto the bed and starts gently shaking her younger sister. "Lily, Lily, time to get up." The girl doesn't stir until the deep voice of their motionless father sleeping beside her, rings out loud and firm, "Lily!"
Faith grabs Lily's arm and pulls her to the edge of the bed. "You're getting too old for this." she says, sounding strained as she carries her sister past the exposed feet of their father and to the bathtub, telling her to get in.
This has been the morning routine for Bennett family of Henderson since April when Darlene Bennett, Faith and Lily's mother and Ron's wife, died suddenly of a heart attack. The next night the three of them climbed in bed together and held onto what they still had – each other.
"Eskimos, they'll all sleep together to stay warm because it's life-sustaining. We all sleep together for comfort and protection," says Faith.
In the hospital, Faith answered her mother's phone that wouldn't stop buzzing with clients of her Woofer Watchers dog hotel home business. The high school sophomore fielded calls and organized people who took care of the dogs while Faith waited to hear if her mother would make it.
Faith says she and her father never discussed it. Faith just took over the business. It's not unusual to see Faith with two iPhones, one raised to her ear as she types on the other, taking notes while she schedules an appointment with a client. Faith has one employee, an older woman named Faithful. Faithful takes care of the dogs a few times a week while Faith is at school or if nobody else is at home.
The morning after her mother died, Easter Sunday, Faith updated her Facebook page to let friends know. She wrote, "Yesterday, I lost my best friend. My other half. And the most amazing human I've ever met. The person I would run to when I was hurt, sad or angry, and somehow she would always make it better, no matter what. Today, I celebrate the most important day. The day that give me hope. Without today there would be no eternal life, no hope for the lost, no comfort for those left behind. People ask me if I'm angry at God. And I respond with a resounding, 'no.' Yes, I have many questions, but I know Jesus came, died and was risen for HER, and for us, so I can see my mommy again one day. And for that, I am so eternally thankful."
Seventy-nine people "liked" that post. People still approach Faith to thank her and tell her how much it affected them.
She says that Lily is her reason to keep going. "I gotta take care of her," Faith says. "It's my responsibility. If anything happened to her, I feel like I would have let my mom down."