The first thing I did when I got back to my mom's house from Christmas Island was to walk in to Ruthie's room to see if it was true. She really was gone. When I left we had just found out she had severe artery blockages which were predicted to slowly allow her feet and legs to die, leading to gangrene and then a slow painful death. But, one week later she was gone. I heard the news by satellite phone. My brother was with my mom in the early morning when Ruthie went to be with her "Mommy, Daddy, Brandy, Whitepaws, and Cat Cat." Ruthie has been telling us for years, "me ready go up to heaven." The previous list is who she knew she would see when she got there. It's strange to have her gone. I miss her tight, long, snuggly hugs. Ruthie hugged like a child, head tucked into my chest, exuding gratitude and pleasure, fully present and accepting the hug as if it were a gift.
The suddenness of her departure made us wonder what happened. Then Janet, Ruthie's friend, and ours said, "maybe God just took her." That seems right. Ruthie was in a lot of pain for the last few months and it looked to be a long haul ahead but instead she got to skip all the dire predictions and head straight to the arms of Jesus and mommy, daddy and all those pets that have gone on ahead.
This past weekend was spent with my sister and mom organizing for the services. My favorite thing we did was to bake cookies for the reception that followed Ruthie's memorial services. Mom asked me to bake a few dozen so I asked her to help me think of what Ruthie's favorite cookies were. "Lots of frosting and sprinkles" was Mom's immediate response. That sounded exactly right. So, we made frosted sugar cookies topped with rainbow colors of sprinkles in shapes of dolphins, fish, bears, cows, stars and moons. My last gift to Ruthie. Her many gifts to me were colored pages, Bible verses, hugs, smiles, dances together, prayers, and a model of faith like a child.