Yesterday, I saw the most amazing sky I have ever, ever seen.
Pale blue, blanketed in puffy clouds. Layers, stacks, staircases of clouds, with brilliant, gleaming sunlight shining through. Shadows and light, so gorgeously playing chase. I had my camera with me, not even an arm's reach away, yet I did not grab it to photograph this sky. It's not that I didn't think to; I did. But I was too captivated, fixed, riding in the passenger seat of the car as Brian drove us to Oglethorpe. And this sky was one for my mind's eye to cherish. Somehow, it didn't seem my camera's lens could have captured its splendor.
We were on our way to the funeral of one of the most amazing women I've ever had the honor to know. Mrs. Linda Beckum, Brian's Great Aunt, who also happened to be our beloved English teacher from high school. She passed away after a long battle with cancer. We were both devastated to learn of her passing. People like Mrs. Beckum are a precious rarity. Her life, her wit, her intelligence, talents, kindness and grace--were all gifts to those who knew her. She accepted people as they were, yet encouraged them to grow even more into themselves. Into their true selves. And to celebrate those true selves.
This was no accidental sky.
It was there to get my attention.
Mrs. Beckum was brilliant with words. It was as if this sky held every word she'd ever spoken. I felt immersed in its brilliance and beauty. I felt her spirit. The shimmering sunlight through the layers of clouds felt like a beacon, an invitation for me to release my sadness and watch it float away. It felt like a promise, a reassurance of renewal. And that while I was not ready for her life to end, this reassurance told me that I could walk through an end to a new beginning.
Her service was beautiful. She had prepared some hymns, passages and Bible verses that she specifically wanted shared. It was so deeply, meaningfully her. We all felt her presence there with us, and that was so comforting.
When we went to the graveside, a breeze began to move around us. It was uplifting, like her spirit was there, dancing among us. It made me smile through my tears. She never wasted a day, never wasted a chance to help or influence someone. Even through the pain and exhaustion of her illness. Right to the end, she gave of her time and talents. She planted so many seeds in her students, friends, family and community. These seeds form, scatter and begin to grow. They have grown in me, and I hope to pass them on as well. This is her legacy to everyone whose life was blessed by her, touched by her, influenced by her.
I have heard the saying, "The bigger your heart, the bigger your life" before, and so I know Mrs. Linda Beckum had a big, big life. She lived her purpose and passed her gifts on to so many. She would want us to see life's beauty and promise, and in doing this, she is with us. Always.
I am so glad I did not photograph that sky's splendor. My soul will always remember the view.