It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect. Psalm 18:32 NKJV I Thessalonians 4:13
Standing in the living room of the home Mark and Wanda had created, the very breath of Wanda seemed to permeate every object. For each object in the room was strategically placed by her hands, creating a place of comfort and love for Mark and Victoria, the two people she called her own.
Mark had asked Aimee and me to help him select things for Wanda to wear for her funeral service. While we were honored to do this last task for Wanda, we had no idea how we would feel as we performed such a heartbreaking duty.
Peering into her tidy closet felt like an invasion of privacy. To break the painful silence, we began to discuss Wanda’s personality and neatness. The closet was a perfect snapshot of the life she led. While her closet was orderly and organized, it was not confining or obtrusive. That is to say, while it was organized, it was not obsessively so. The only obsession you could attribute to Wanda, with absolute certainty, would be her faith in God and her family.
As we looked through her dresses and began to discuss what we thought of as we recalled how Wanda looked the last time we saw her with this or that on, my eyes fell on the dress of ivory. Hanging at the very end, shrouded in plastic, the ivory gown she wore at her wedding spoke like a banner waving of love and joy. For the most important day of her life, she had created that simple gown with her own hands. Wanda was not a flashy dresser, but chose the simple clean cut lines of all her clothes. To the casual observer, Wanda would exude simple elegance. As a matter of fact, Aimee and I discussed that as we both stood in her closet.
I clamped my jaw tight on the tears that threatened to pour from my heart. “This”, I said to myself, “would be cried over later. Not now.” For now, there was the business of us getting things ready for Mark to take to the funeral home.
So, with stoic posture, we carried out our duty in the bedroom of our sweet sister. We both decided Wanda’s purple suit was the perfect attire for our sister’s final journey. Purple was her favorite color, and it seems that even before she died, I had been inexplicably drawn to this color, a color I, myself, have rarely worn. We discussed the fact that purple was a color which reflected royalty. She was indeed in the very presence of Royalty. And being a daughter of the King making her journey to rest in His court by His side, she deserved no less than her very own purple!
Her jewelry box was next. We didn’t find much there. She generally wore only a few select pieces of jewelry that were gifts from Mark. Wanda was not much for outward glitter or glam. Instead, her jewels were in her heart and soul. We chose a simple heart with tiny diamonds and small gold loop earrings, both gifts from her husband, Mark.
Aimee and I chose carefully the clothes that would cover the shell of her spirit, which had left us just a few days past. As we methodically went about our task of selecting the necessary, and adding a few pieces of non-essentials, we did so with little conversation. Our tightly-constricted throats would have burst forth with cries of our own pain, if we had allowed the emotions to unravel. Struggling to hold back the tears that burned behind our eyes and pressed to be unleashed into the evening, we gathered her purple around us.
We carefully laid everything on the bed, as if we were her handmaids, laying out her clothes for the day. At the dresser collecting undergarments, I noted that even there, everything was folded with such a neat precision. I wondered if she kept her drawers so neat- “expecting” someone to rummage through them. My thoughts immediately were drawn to the condition of my own dresser drawers. Was my life “inspectable?” Would it uphold to such scrutiny? If one is honest with one’s self, none of our lives bear well under great scrutiny.
Upon finishing the task, I wanted to linger in the room, hoping by some chance, I could capture a sense of her to hold in my heart for the long days to come. We found Mark in the living room talking quietly with Aimee’s husband, Juno. We told him, “We have finished. Her clothes are ready.”
I suppose part of me assumed he would want to immediately see what we had selected. Instead, he wanted to share with us how he had shared the news of Wanda’s passing with Victoria, their four-year-old daughter. I think we had all been silently praying for Mark, realizing that his task, explaining her mother’s death to Victoria, would be, by far, the most difficult. As we stood looking into the eyes of a brokenhearted man, we waited expectantly, for him to recount the details of their tear-filled conversation.
That conversation is found in the next blog entry. I purposefully posted it yesterday, for it had truly taken place before the night we chose her clothes. I wanted it to flow into the one below for any “new readers”. I imagine that there are no new ones, but I am so thankful that you have each journeyed with me here.
Someone stated to me that although they read faithfully, these tear streaked passages of days, they chose not to comment, for what, after all would there be left to say? “That is quite alright”, I told my friend. To know she loves, cares and prayed along with many of you –for us during the painful days of last year is enough. So dear friend, don’t feel obligated to comment. I love you still!
I heard just last night that the month of February was “heart health” month. How fitting. Wanda’s heart condition was severe, yet no one that I know—took better care of their health than she.
One more to go. I told someone via e-mail today that although these pages would close this chapter, the book of faith would continue on in the legacy of hope, trust and faith that Wanda instilled in Victoria from the beginning. As she grows and learns to lean on the Father for herself, the story of love continues.
Copyright © 2008 Angie Knight, author of The Knightly News. All rights reserved.