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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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A party?

Weary from traveling to be with my nearly 97-year-old critically ill mother and having spent the night at her bedside, I had an errand to do. My mission? To buy a new dress for my mother. While my brother kept vigil, I left her bedside on that warm April afternoon and drove 20 miles to the nearest shopping center.

I was consumed with sadness during those miles, shedding a tear or two, recalling so many memories and wondering if my mother would still be alive when I returned.

Nothing seemed right. Too glitzy. Short sleeves. Neckline too low. Wrong color. Too extravagant. I wandered through the abundantly stocked dress racks finding nothing that I felt appropriate and becoming weary and robot-like with each step. Then in a corner, almost hidden away, there it was. Just what I was looking for. Right color, right style, gentle, soft, with butterflies. Perfect. Yes, this was the dress.

I shuffled to the counter. The clerk asked if I had a store charge card and told me with excitement that if I opened an account that day my purchase would be reduced by 15 percent. Yeah, whatever. Then she looked carefully at what I was buying and asked, again with excitement, “Are you going to a party?” I lost it. Tears flowed. I couldn’t speak. After a few minutes, I quietly told her I was buying a dress for my mother to be buried in. She apologized profusely and offered her condolences.

Was I going to a party? Those words hit me hard. Of course I wasn’t going to a party. Funerals aren’t parties. Everyone knows that. But wait ... My mother was going to a party—to the grandest of parties. I could be happy about that.

In a most unique way that clerk helped me see beyond my momentary sorrow and pain to envision resurrection and new life with wholeness of body.

Ten days later my mother did go to that party. As I again looked at the dress, the wonderful peace of God embraced me and caused a smile to fill my soul.


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