…how do you say good-bye…

"She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.  She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."  Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."  --Proverbs 31:27-31 (NIV)

My dear friend, whose heart and life was a glorious tapestry of everything attributed to the woman described in the verses above died this week. My phone began pinging early Wednesday morning. As I went to pick up my phone I saw it was from a former co-worker. My heart jerked with a quick awareness and I said to my husband, “Verna died.”

It was indeed a string of messages about her death. People began sharing their memories about Verna. I shared too but the words weren’t adequate.

Nothing would give me a sense of honoring this woman more than to have the words to tell you how truly special Verna was. She reminded me that true LADIES do still exist. Honest adjectives I can use to describe her are the ones in this scripture passage along with humble, graceful in love and a peaceful person.

None of these words come close to telling you about such a woman. She was my champion, my advisor, mentor, friend, supporter, sounding board and much, much more.

Verna was multi-faceted, reminding me a colorful glass painting that when the sun shines through you see the revealed complexity and beauty in the heart. This is how I experienced Verna and it is much like others that shared this week did to. We were drawn to her light and the source of that for Verna was her God, His Son and the Holy Spirit.

Saying farewell to the loved ones in our lives is never easy. Grief is sharp and cuts to the core of the soul. When the person who passes has the attributes and characteristics of such a woman as Verna it is bittersweet.

It is bitter because grief has it’s sting. Our lives here are forever altered. We will miss Verna for the rest of our earthly lives. It is sweet as we know she has a much more beautiful existence now with no sorrow, no tears and an abundance of love in God’s presence.

How do I say good-bye? In my heart, how do I say good-bye?

How does the world keep turning without Verna? I want people everywhere to stop and mourn with us. Do they not know Verna Eatmon died? Why isn’t it headline news? The same feelings and thoughts I had the first night I struggled to fall asleep in the world with my own mother a new citizen of Heaven.

Verna was truly a woman who was “clothed with strength and dignity”. For she had a wore these garments with great care, love and understanding. Her soul was a pool of peace. In her own life there had been tragedies, great grief from losses, times of plenty and of want. Yet it didn’t make her hateful or resentful. Nor did she blame God. We came to her and filled our cups with hope. Resting in the shade of her presence of calm. One was drawn to Verna like a wounded heart to a source of healing.

This great, humble, woman was my champion. She didn’t gossip about me. I could depend on her to fill in at other positions on her days off, or adapt to new things as smoothly as possible. Her career at the agency was varied in departments and tasks and stretched for many years beyond mine in total. When I left she did too. I never realized, until then, that when circumstances for me were difficult they were hard for her in other ways for she was my true friend.

Verna was not a loud, arm raising, curse you out person. She lived her FAITH and when she spoke it was quietly, firmly and you didn’t feel preached at, or that she was forcing her beliefs on you.

My friend is gone and I am sad. Somewhat numb with new grief. How will I say good-bye? I am saying instead, “Can’t wait to be with you again”. For we will be together in Heaven.

I picture her now, radiant in her new body and praising the Father. I see her greeting all those loved ones who’ve gone before her, like her husband and son. I am sure she will meet my mother.

I wish I could have talked to her one more time. (Isn’t that a familiar refrain?) I would try to tell her how much she meant to me. And I would remind her of the day I shared this funny yet fulfilling dream I had with her. In it my amputated leg was leaning against the wall outside the gates of Heaven, waiting for the rest of me to get home too.

When I told this to Verna, I also said, “I’m going to put that leg back on so when I get my new body nothing is missing. Then I’m gonna kneel down before God followed by dancing, leaping and running all around Heaven.” She thought I was crazy, in a good way, and we laughed.

When it’s my turn to enter those pearly gates, Verna will be one of those souls I know I will visit with again and there will be no more tears, unhappiness or goodbyes.

Thank you Verna Eatmon for enriching my life. Check on that leg for me, when you have a second, please?



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