One week ago today I sat in the CICU waiting room hearing the words you never want to hear. I watched my family mourn and wail as the life of my sweet Aunt was finished on this earth. It all seems so unreal and like a bad dream I am still living.
Yesterday we celebrated her life and mourned together of our loss. I had the opportunity to share the life of my Aunt…below is what I spoke.
My sweet aunt Susan,
Though I start this letter calling you an aunt we know our relationship was much deeper than me being just your niece. Only two people in this world called me by my real name Kate, my dad and you. You were like a second-mom and you loved me unconditionally like a daughter. Just 2 weeks ago you sat on my couch sharing stories of when you babysat me as a little baby…you shared how my dad would stop by your house, come down into your room in the early morning and place me in bed with you to snuggle in the morning. Those moments 28 years ago were the seeds to the beginning of beautiful bond we shared. Words just seem so unfitting, because their are no words that fit the loss I feel in the depths of my soul. I love you Aunt Susan and am incredibly thankful for every moment of time we spent together. I anxiously look forward to Heaven when we have eternity to laugh together.
When struggling to find the words to describe your beautiful life the only words that seemed fitting are those that come straight from scripture. Susan, you were the Proverbs 31 woman. You left a legacy…an impression on the hearts of every person you encountered…we all hope to live up to the Proverbs 31 woman as you have…These words in the Bible make me smile every time I read them, because these words are a reflection of your days lived on this earth.
Hymn to a Good Wife
Prov. 30:10-31 A good woman is hard to find,
and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
and brings back exotic surprises.
She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast
for her family and organizing her day…..
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
diligent in homemaking.
She’s quick to assist anyone in need,
reaches out to help the poor…..
She makes her own clothing,
and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
She designs gowns and sells them,
brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
her husband joins in with words of praise:
“Many women have done wonderful things,
but you’ve outclassed them all!”
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised
is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
Praise her in public for what she has done.
And as it ends in Proverbs 31:31 saying, praise her in public for her life, I want to celebrate and spend this time praising her 49 years on this earth. Susan wanted her life to make an impact for Jesus. The many times I spent with her she always shared with me how wanted to do something big with her life for God, but she never realized she did just that. Susan did make a BIG impact because she was a faithful servant. She was faithful with her daily life, faithful in loving her family, faithful with every little moment of time she was given, faithful to serve people and treat each individual as a part of her family. When you spent time with Susan she had a unique ability of making you feel so special with her cheerful and encouraging words, yet, she also had ability to weep with you in seasons of hard times. Her joyful spirit left an imprint on the hearts of each one of us sitting here and many others.
When I reflect on the thousands of memories I carry in my heart it is the past 3 year specifically I will treasure dearly. These were the years that knit our hearts close together. On our own Adventure Branden and I moved to Oregon 6 years ago, leaving behind all our friends and family in Spokane, but my Aunt Susan and her family were my only family here locally. During the last 3 years of some very hard circumstance my Aunt stood beside me and breathed life into my dry bones. When I couldn’t take one more step, she held my hand & cheered me on. She sat with me many afternoons in my worst, praying for, crying with and loving me. The last 3 years have been some of the hardest moments of my life & she became my mom-away-from-mom. She filled the gap when my mom couldn’t physically be here. When I would go through another failed fertility treatment & felt defeated she would take me out for Red Robin fries and listen to my heart, when my dog died she was showed up on my porch to clean my house, when I was overwhelmed with selling my house last year she stood with my in my kitchen and packed boxes while I cried, when I had a bad day she would tell me drive down to the bed and breakfast and we would sit on her porch talking into the late evening hours, anytime I had a photography event she was there, serving and supporting me. She was my biggest cheerleader-always encouraging me along the way. She sent me Bible verses often and told me weekly she was praying for me. She always made time for me….she was never too busy and she taught me how to love others. Through the years she has loved me and served me with Christ’s love. She has given me strength when I felt I couldn’t do it any more. Though my heart is heavy today–in my reflections of the past few years, my heart is also overflowing with thankfulness. Thankful that God placed her in my life in a season where I desperately needed her. I am incredibly thankful for the last 6 years together in Oregon, where God knit our hearts together in a special way.
When Susan moved to Arizona I sobbed at home–a piece of my heart was moving away, yet we always believed we would be close again soon. We would often dream over our many lunch dates of living near one another in the warm Arizona sunshine, building our lives under blue skies and palm trees. I look back now and see how beautifully orchestrated our time together was these last 3 months of her life. Two week after Susan moved to Arizona I came to visit her for a week–and that week was so special and fun. But looking back in light of her passing that week will forever be sweetest moments I spent with Susan. If had to do it all over again and knew that I only had one week left to spend with her, I would change nothing. We did everything that epitomized our relationship. That week in Arizona we laid by the pool together, shopped at Hobby Lobby 10 times, Susan LOVED Christmas and so went to several Christmas bazaars and shops as I watched her face light up, she was so patient as you taught me how to sew for the first time that week and helped me make napkins and potholders, we celebrated her 49th Birthday over cheesecake, enjoyed pedicures together, and lastly, we did a photo expedition, something we both loved doing together regularly in Oregon. The last day I was in Arizona, we woke up very early and chased the desert sunrise over the superstition mountains taking a million pictures. That week we left nothing undone–we spent every moment together and cherished our precious time.
Then shortly after that trip she returned to Portland to live in my home to see doctors as she was so optimistic of her getting well. As hard as it was for me watch her in so much pain in my home the last month of her life I am eternally grateful for the sweet weeks I got to spend until she went home to be with Jesus. I got to return all she had done for me, I got to SERVE her and LOVE her. I drove her to doctors appointments, sat in the appointments with her taking notes and fighting to be her voice, I ran errands–running all over finding the right vitamins, I attempted to cook her meals, and opened my home for her to feel at rest. Though it is extremely difficult to know she is gone I see the beauty woven into her living in my home the 4 weeks leading up to being called to heaven. Susan was in the hospital the day I born, and loved me at my very first breaths on this earth and I was able to return the love to her by loving her until her final breaths were had on this earth.