strength + dignity + purple flowers

As I sit down to write this story, to let the emotions bleed out with the words, to capture a glimpse of heaven’s light in this hard season, all is quiet. The twinkling strand of lights glow softly like they always do in the corner of my dorm room I call home for eight out of twelve months of the year. Persistent, comforting, bringing light and beauty to the every day. Most have turned to rest, but for me it’s in the earliest hours of the day that marks one month, so I am wide awake, thoughts flying.

It’s been a whole whirlwind of a month since I last looked into the eyes of my sweet, sweet mama and treasured her final minutes on this earth. Those few moments, humming hymns and chorus of You are good, mind scrambling to recall lyrics, were a gift. God’s perfect timing even as the night before decisions of being in class the following day seemed heavy and uncertain. If it were not for that plan, I would have missed it all. His faithfulness is woven into the shadows and dark places, into the details of our lives, friends.

The chance then came to hum her favorite hymn of Come Ye Sinners, hand around hers, her eyes never wavering from me. And with those lines

I will arise and go to Jesus
He will embrace me in His arms
In the arms of my dear Savior
Oh, there are ten thousand charms

I got to sing her into the presence of Jesus. Looking back, I will never forget that scene, so bitter and yet so sweet. She became more alive and home than she’s ever been, even as everything my eyes took in fought to remember that when it all seemed so opposite. Pain is now behind her and Jesus is before her – which was her desire. In that I found peace both in those out-of-a-movie strange hours right after and to this day.

And she left behind such a legacy of grace and faith, such that even in Hospice they all were touched by her. I can’t help but smile through the tears as I realize that while there is much that I cannot control about this all, I now get to honor her in how I live. Each day I can live out all she has instilled in me, what she valued, following her example living well and even in dying well.

I watched as my world slowly spun into collapse that weekend. Heart hitting the floor, exhausted by the weight of the past few months. After stumbling upon the photograph featured above, the flowers and the verse, these thoughts tumbled out that Saturday.

Today marks two months on the calendar cycle since the first date. When the email landed in my inbox, during a typical cycle of procrastinating school, losing the worries of the day in Netflix shows. Shaking sobs, unsettled spirit, terror racing through veins. A hint that something is off. Her voice coming through, doctors tests results, surreal words.

A month later. Driveway tears, stress levels so high the tension could pull you apart. Back in the hospital. Staring at the stars and praying desperately to be reminded of a love from before the foundation of the world, a One who is writing this story better than our perspective can comprehend.

Now. Sitting in a gorgeous hospice center, purple flowers parallel to where I sit. Rubbing her back, the power of human connection and touch sparking comfort. Motions and thoughts flowing to the rhythm of the song lines: I will build my life upon your love. Trying desperately to celebrate. Because you know who she is, where her hope is, and how hard she has instilled and cultivated that in us. Years of homeschooling, heart-to-heart conversations, late night ramblings.

When my gaze came across these flowers in the waiting room, I almost laughed. Isn’t that just like God, to bring connections of the lovely things when you are most losing sight of hope? Instantly I was taken back to that earlier picture, purple flowers across a Bible opened to the passage of Proverbs 31.

She is clothed with strength and dignity. She laughs in fear of the future.
No more perfect words to capture this incredible woman.
Perspective so apparent from the very first moments of this crisis. The world spinning beyond control of what you know. Yet as she was so quick to say, the day her world changed, but God did not.

My mom loved others, placed importance on relationships and people over all else, and lived in such a way that those in her life knew it. She gave selflessly, answering endless messages from me, sitting for hours patiently letting me tell all my stories every Sunday, encouraging me in growth. Spending time with her children and grandchildren, reading the little ones stories while teaching them both in life and in truth, helping us older kids navigate the challenges brought our way with gentle reminders and wise advice. Spending time while shopping picking up things others might enjoy, eyes open for ways to invest in people’s lives.

My mom was quick to speak the truth in love, welcoming and intentional with those she came into contact with, and full of kindness and grace. She was often found behind the scenes, encouraging others and taking care of countless details. So grounded in faith, reflecting that in all she did.

Now whenever purple flowers come across my path, I will forever have this visual reminder. This way of celebrating who she was and the depth of her character and faith. This way of living with strength and dignity and always desiring to possess those same qualities, just like her.

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