Empty Vases

Our lives are a thin vein scratch from death, a vapor, a wind, a flower that fades.

cropped-tulips.jpg

I’ve never had anyone very close to me die yet; however, as I’ve gotten older, death is that much closer. I know the day is coming, as the stories of death  hit closer to home than ever before.

I’m thinking these thoughts today because earlier this week, a mother of five, a sister,  teacher, wife, friend, artist, from my church, lost her life.

It started with a headache that turned out to be an aneurysm. That happened in January. And things seemed to be getting better. She was in rehab. But then a setback with another bleed, surgery, and….

It is a bit of a shock to our church community.

A few years ago, Laura lost one of her sons, as a freshman in college. He was in the shower, fell, and died of a brain injury. He was 19.

Now they don’t know if it was the fall that caused the son’s brain injury.

It was standing room only that night in church, when they had a service for him.

The next day, Sunday, his father preached. “Are you sure?” he was asked. “Yes,” he was sure, he said. He preached a sermon… the very next day. About God. How good God is. No matter what.

***

Laura made a beautiful scrap quilt with a cross in the middle; donated it to church a year or so ago, and it has been hanging ever since in the sanctuary.

Tomorrow night is a visitation and memorial service. Empty vases will be on the altar for people to bring daisies and tulips– her favorites.

Empty vases… waiting to be filled.

Lord, fill the hearts of those who are grieving over Laura, fill them with hope, boost their faith when they are weak, and show them testimony of your love for them. Show them in little and big ways, that you see them.

I wasn’t one of their closest friends, but our lives and paths have crossed in various ways over the past 9-10 years.

When I started homeschooling 9 years ago, she invited me into her home, shared her home school journey with me, and even gave me some of her old Bob Jones books. I remember her telling me: she decided to pick a curriculum and just stick with it– and she didn’t waver from it. She did indeed stick with it. She decided to send her children to a local college-prep high school after homeschooling each one through the 8th grade. After they reached high school, she began teaching art– using her degree– in the small Christian school associated with our church.

When my kids attended that same school for a year, where she taught, my daughter ended up with Laura as her 8th grade homeroom teacher. And Laura told me how happy she was to have her in her class. Thank you, Laura. That was a difficult year in middle school.

One of Laura’s daughters, Abby, babysat for my kids years ago. Abby is a remarkable, beautiful young lady, who was studying in Germany this year and who loves to travel. She has friends from all countries in the world. She graduated from college last summer. She is applying for a Fulbright. I hope you get it, Abby. 

They all used to swim– all five of the kids. Each of her five kids was on a swim team. I remember Laura telling me, she just picked one sport for all of them to do together, and swimming was it. They all went swimming together.

The son they lost– he was a promising swimmer. A very promising swimmer.

My kids took swim classes there one year, with a couple of the daughters teaching. One night, we watched their swim team: the “Piranhas”. Formidable name, huh?

Before moving here, they were missionaries in Somalia. When the kids were younger, they moved back to the U.S…. and maybe some were born here? I don’t recall the year they came back.

I can’t imagine how the children feel… to have lost a brother, and now just a few years later, their mother.

***

My mother is having knee replacement surgery in mid-April, and I wonder about her going under anesthesia at her age. It makes me sad that I live so many miles away. And I can’t see her before the surgery.

I know that tomorrow… I won’t be able to hold tears back if I go. I tend to cry if someone else is crying. Well… now that I’m over 40, that’s what it’s like– I didn’t used to be that way.

Nothing stays the same… and yet, some things do. We all grow older, we change, we will laugh, we will mourn. And one day, we will move from this life to our eternal home.

One thing is certain: I know that she is with Jesus. And there are probably an endless number of tulips and daisies, in every color.

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2 thoughts on “Empty Vases

  1. I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your friend. My heart goes out to this family. I will keep them in my prayers. In these times, it’s so hard to find the right words, but I think her husband gave them to us. God is good. We are grateful he walks with us through the valley of the shadow.

Thank you friend, I love to hear from you...

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