Simonia Harrison (left) is seen with her late daughter, Rakeisha. The author wrote a book, “The Light of Sunshine,” about her daughter’s untimely death in an apartment fire in Cheltenham. (Photo courtesy Simonia Harrison)

by Barbara Sherf

Have you ever wondered why God allowed your loved one to be taken too soon? If so, “The Light of Sunshine: The Life and Death of Rakeisha Harrison” is something to consider putting on your pandemic reading list. 

Written as a testimony by her mother, Simonia Harrison, 59, of Elkins Park, the author takes us on a turbulent journey through her late daughter’s health woes and more. 

Harrison opens the book by recounting a phone call telling her there was a fire at Rakeisha’s Lynnewood Gardens apartment complex in Cheltenham on Jan. 19, 2015.   

“As I ran down the stairs to put my coat on, I turned on the television. Right there on the television screen was Rakeisha’s actual apartment. On fire! I said out loud again. This is it,” writes Harrison, sharing with the readers that she knew her daughter had just died.

“As I began to walk towards the apartment, slipping on the black ice, I just kept asking God to help me because I already knew what was about to happen.  The Holy Spirit prepared me for her passing.” 

Harrison, a longstanding member of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in East Mt. Airy, chatted with a fellow member about doing a blog about her daughter, but she suggested that Harrison write a book.   

A month before the fire, Rakeisha wrote of her health trials on her Facebook page: “I was born with a brain tumor. I went to my so-called doctors. At first they didn’t know what was going on. I told my eye doctor that I couldn’t see, but he said that I was just trying to get out of school.

“I had my radiation therapy, and they told me something may happen later down the line, but they didn’t know what. In May of 2002, I had three strokes in one week, plus I lost all the blood in my body that same week. I had cysts on my uterus. I had to get a blood transfusion. I was in the ICU. 

“In October of 2011, I went to the hospital for a headache, and they did an MRI and found a tumor underneath some of my eye. I had some of that removed. They couldn’t remove it all because my eye would have fallen down. On April 19, 2012, I had my first seizure. I have epilepsy. 

“My God has something He wants me to see — to go through all of this, and you can’t even see any of the things I have been through. I thank God for all of it because He brought me through. He kept me calm through it all, and His Son, Jesus, was my doctor, my healer. 

“I just need you guys to keep me in your prayers. I am going through a lot from this man-made medication I’m on. But I do know God got the best stuff! I am being patient, waiting to see what God has planned for me!”  

Harrison said she is at peace with the death of her daughter, who was like a ray of sunshine. 

“I got that peace through the process of grieving and by breaking into the spiritual realm. One night while trying to sleep, my living room lit up with this brilliant bright light.  I looked at the ceiling light, which was not on, so I knew that I had experienced Rakeisha’s light. She made it to heaven,” said Harrison, who is a local realtor. 

Harrison believes faith is the only thing that got her through the untimely death of her daughter at the age of 34. “I thought I’d be in my grave myself or at least in a mental institution after losing my daughter,” said Harrison. “I put all my trust and faith in God, and … spiritually speaking, I feel much stronger and have grown tremendously since my daughter’s passing.”

Harrison, a breast cancer survivor, said reaction to the book, published by Gospel 4 U Publishing, has been phenomenal. “I hear back from a lot of people who purchased the book telling me it was a very powerful testimony, and other mothers who have lost a child have said that it has helped them get through their own grief.”

You can reach the author at facebook.com/simonialewisharrison or thelightofsunshine on facebook to purchase copies of the book. Flourtown resident Barbara Sherf can be reached at capturelifestories@gmail.com

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