As we drove away, I rested my head against the passenger side window and watched the funeral home in the rear-view mirror until it was swallowed up into a swirling kaleidoscope of browns and grays. Something so significant, now so small and fleeting. It didn’t seem right.
“I’ve had it with the ‘signs,’” I told my sister, breaking the silence.
“I know, right?” she said, looking at me just long enough to roll her eyes in support.
“God doesn’t send us ‘signs’ from the other side like that, does He?” I asked, more telling than asking.
“No,” she said.
“I know mom misses Colleen. We all do, but I wish she would just let it be instead of conjuring up these ‘signs’ from heaven, you know?”
“I do,” she said.
I let my head reclaim its spot against the window, soothed by the vibrations from the road beneath us, and watched the city rushing by, my thoughts adrift about God and death and life, until grief manifested into exhaustion and my eyelids were forced to close.
Life resumed, as it always does, callous to the fact that a tragedy had just occurred. Back home in Dallas, I was going through the motions, and despite secretly longing for a “sign” of my own, the reality of that happening had been buried along with my baby sister.
About a week after the funeral, I walked into a Ross department store where something on a nearby table caught my eye.
Amidst little stacks of neatly arranged books sat a small square-shaped book. It was entitled “A Cup of Comfort for Sisters.” My mouth hung open. Could this be my—
I picked up the book and studied its little cover. No way, I thought, the hairs on the back of my neck standing straight up. The only name listed was that of the editor. Her name was Colleen.
Like a child discovering a magical chest, I peered inside, expectantly.
My eyes honed in on the sentence at the top of the page. Amy, breathe, it read. That’s my name, I whispered. I reached for the table and steadied myself. Standing there, awestruck, I studied the book’s features as if it had dropped out of the sky.
As the sights and sounds of other shoppers pulled me into the present, I closed the tiny treasure and clutched it to my chest, fearing to lose it would be to lose the memory itself.
I needed to purchase the book and get it home before something could happen to it. Before I could find out it wasn’t real.
To discuss it was to somehow negate its significance so I placed it on my bookshelf, safely behind its paneled glass doors, content to leave it there untampered with forever.
Three years later, I pulled my newly purchased strawberries out of the fridge, intending to have some for breakfast. My youngest sister, Colleen, had loved strawberries, in fact she collected everything strawberry over her 32 years of life.
Never have I noticed a brand name before, but this one jumped out. It read, “Colleen’s Strawberries.” What, I thought, taking a minute to savor her memory for the first time in years and recalling the special book.
I found the business online and shot them an email.
“How did you come up with the name for your company?” I asked.
“We named the company after our little sister who passed away at a young age,” was the reply.
Unbelievable, I thought.
“When was your company founded?” I asked next.
My sister’s birth year, I whispered aloud. God, you are so good to me. I don’t deserve you.
I was content, but God wasn’t quite finished.
Six months after discovering the strawberries and three years after finding the book, I realized that one of my pre-K students shared my sister, Colleen’s, birthday.
“Do you know how special that is?” I asked her with a smile.
Her eyes lighting up, bouncy red curls framing her freckled face, she shot me a mischievous grin and exclaimed, “Guess what, Miss Amy?”
“What?” I asked, her excitement infectious.
“I’m gonna have a strawberry cake!” she announced.
Of course, you are, I thought, of course you are.
“You know what I long for, Lord; you hear my every sigh.” Psalm 38:9 (NLT)
For more on the amazing ways God has shown up in my life, see this earlier post: https://amynordhues.com/encountering-jesus-in-my-40s/.
I want to hear from you!! If you have a God encounter that you would like to share, please do! I’d love to hear it and with your permission maybe I can share it in a future blog post!