I remember her towels. For some reason, I keep coming back to the image of her soft, perfectly folded white towels. They were so incredibly neat and tidy. And pure.
I wasn’t supposed to be her doula. My partner had called me at the last minute and I entered her space for the first time when she was in labor. She was stunning. Brilliant red hair and a quiet strength. This was their first baby and they wanted to stay home for most of their labor.
I remember some funny things. Some things that will remain unsaid. I remember in active labor, I looked over and saw a shotgun (rifle?) by the bed. I wondered if it was wise to have a gun so close to a woman in active labor. I remember the ways I flubbed up. One incident made my blooper page. I remember laughter.
We arrived at the birth center. She was fully dilated and quickly pushed her baby into her husband’s hands. A son.
During her postpartum, when she needed extra help with breastfeeding, I brought lactation help. We spent hours in her home. It was the intimate time of women with the new mother. We three cried when her milk came.
Her mothering was fierce and deliberate. She is the kind of mother we need more of.
Last week, she died from an aggressive cancer. She leaves behind her precious husband, her toddler, and her born-too-soon baby girl. And it is awful. It is wrong. And not meant to be like this.
Yet, there is beauty–certainly in her life–but also in her passing. I heard her name from so many places during her illness. People who didn’t even know her. She breathed grace and confidence and HOPE. This is the mystery of redemption. That God, who does not want suffering, can redeem it. Beauty from ashes. If we let him.
When I remember Jessica, it will always be a vision of those white towels. And I’ll hope that my life will be as well-lived.