The morning started out happy… She was up well before the sun. She had already spent time chatting with her pápi by the time I was up and around.
This was the morning she would gather the mail my husband had brought in and left by the front door. As I sat lazily in my chair trying to wake up, she would find a certain envelope addressed to me from Colorado Mesa University—where we both attended. “Oh look!” she said gleefully. “It’s for you—from CMU! I’m going to open it!” “Go for it…,” I stated, with my usual, early morning lack of enthusiasm.
Much to our mutual surprise, it was my diploma…!!! “How could this be?!!” we both mused. I had completed all my program requirements, but was not scheduled to graduate until May. It was only February 6th. Leave it to me to miss my own graduation! However, this kind of incident was very typical of my markedly unconventional life…
Only weeks later would I understand the deep significance, and miracle, that this diploma was presented to me on that particular day, and by those blessed hands… She even snapped a quick photo of me holding it—one of the last photos she would ever take. She was so proud of her “little mommy.” I had a hard time getting through that last semester, and she once threatened me that if I dared quit, she would be so mad at me!! I couldn’t bear the thought of letting her down—this kept me going. In the end, I did it for her and my other children.
As I drove her to school that morning (an hour away!), we laughed and joked about me missing my own graduation—like, who does that?!! The discussion eventually veered toward more seriousness, as I contemplated what my next steps would be; she listened with genuine earnestness as I shared with her my ideas and plans… In hindsight, it was as if she was helping me map out my future that would soon lie ahead without her by my side.
As the direction of the conversation turned towards her, I expressed my concern that she should focus on what would make her happy in life—not what I or anybody else thought she should do. I remember her smile and contentment as she contemplated my words. I expressed how being the best at something, or even accomplishing our goals does not equate true happiness—what matters in life is how we treat one another. I also told her that if we are in good standing with our God, we have nothing to fear ever, and it would not matter if today were our last… Her eyes glistened with tears of relief and joy as I spoke these words to her, as if reading her mind.
School is stressful—very heavy most of the time. Josie was a good student, but she carried a heavy load trying to keep up with the demands of professors and everything else that occurs in the normal, daily life of a soon to be 20 year old. Add to that the hours upon hours of practice time expected of a performing musician, and the weight becomes almost unbearable every now and then…
My momma heart ached to part with her that morning, as I longed to hold her and make all her worries disappear. I playfully joked that I was “done” with school, and she’d eventually get her turn to relax as well. Had I known that that would be our last hug goodbye, I never in a million years would have let her go… Never.
Her little brother listened happily to his favorite tunes from his car seat in the back, as she bid us both farewell with an extra radiant smile. I could not get enough of how beautiful she looked that morning, and I even told her so several times—she was absolutely glowing! My heart was full, as we hugged and parted with happy I love you’s.
The rest of that day was not really noteworthy, other than the fact that I felt extremely “homesick” for her the whole time. I spent most of it resting and regrouping—something I rarely had the luxury of doing. When she ended up getting out of school a few hours early, I choose to not pick her up until the regular time (something I deeply regret…). She was happy to stay and practice her violin until later, she said; she understood how tired I always was trying to juggle all of my responsibilities.
Between driving her back and forth to school (she was scheduled to take her driver’s test in three days), and driving her younger brother and sister to their school and activities, life could get hectic. That evening, as my husband and I were discussing who would get who, he offered to drive the long drive to pick up Josie, I would go the opposite, shorter direction to get our youngest daughter, and our oldest son would walk to his destination. Problem solved. Every day was like a puzzle trying to figure out who would take who where and at what time!!
My youngest daughter answered the sad call from the back seat on our way home from her gymnastics—“Josie! Josie! Josie!” was all her pápi could utter. Though every detail of that night is deeply etched into every fiber of my being, there are many aspects that are a complete blur. From that initial phone call, to the minutes, hours, days, and weeks that would follow, I desperately longed to hold my precious daughter safely in my arms once more…
Bits and pieces of that final day would replay in my mind—over and over and over. Could I have changed the course of events? Where did I possibly go wrong? How would I ever survive without her?!!! I could barely breath, and my heart literally felt like it was racing to its end…
Somewhere over the course of the next few weeks, it became apparent to me the music that was playing in the car when we said our final goodbyes… We had been listening to her little brother’s favorite artist, Asheba. I remember taking a bit longer to say goodbye that morning, and a new song I’d never heard from the album somehow made its way through our speakers—Precious Little Bless.
Upon discovering this final song we shared together, my heart experienced thoughts and feelings that I cannot describe. It was perfect. It was exactly what I had envisioned her exit from this life and the entrance to her new life would be…
A sense of relief came over me, and a weight was lifted as I considered how she was no longer bound by earthly cares and stresses—she was free, and she was able to enjoy a much deserved life that was now her eternal reality. She had passed the “test,” and graduated with flying colors!!! It was her that was truly done, and ironically, the joke was apparently on me…
It pained me to watch her struggle in life—as it does any mother. Her life was difficult in many ways… She did her best. She fought hard. She loved with everything she possessed. She left no unfinished business, and she lived every moment to the fullest. While my heart is irreparably broken in her absence, I also find tremendous comfort knowing she is now free…
Precious Little Bless by Asheba
Here you are, clean and pure
And ready to go, on the journey once more
For you I bring a gift, to take along your way
A rhydim and a melody for you I play
Precious little bless… oh yeah
Precious little bless…
Precious little bless
Smell the flowers, and feel the breeze
Listen to the birds singing for you, high up in the trees
Check out the ocean, the mountains and the sky
So much to do, I wish for you
Precious little bless… I really do
Precious little bless… wish this for you
So, here you are, clean and pure
I see you ready to go, on the journey once more
For you I bring this gift, to take along your way
A rhydim and a melody for you, I sing and play
Precious little bless… for you
Precious little bless… bring it I do
Precious little bless… take you along the way
Precious little bless… oh smell the flowers today
Precious little bless… enjoy the breeze
Precious little bless… hear the birds a singing in the trees
Precious little bless…
Precious little bless…