Cathie gingerly stroked the samples laid out in front of her at the specialty shop. “So many different shades to choose from.” she thought. “Who could have imagined that it would be such a difficult decision?”
She picked up the sample marked “Tawny Sunset” and laid it in the palm of her hand. It was a beautiful shade of golden-brown and was aptly named. Cathie closed her eyes and imagined herself standing at the edge of the ocean with the surf gently tickling her bare feet. Just dipping below the horizon was a beautiful sphere of golden delight, with tendrils of honey-colored shafts reaching out in every direction. Her heart swelled within as she imagined the beauty of God saying goodnight to His creations through the wonder of the sunset.
Sighing, Cathie chose another sample. This piece bore the name “Midnight Majesty.” This color brought to mind the camping trip she and Jeff had taken with the children long ago. It had been an impromptu getaway, but it had been one of the most enjoyable vacations they had ever taken together as a family. One night after the kids were asleep, Cathie and Jeff had lain on their backs gazing up into the jet-black sky dotted with twinkling stars. The view had reminded Cathie of a jeweler’s swatch of black velvet stretched across the sky, scattered with precious diamonds. Cathie and Jeff had talked for hours, and it was one of those golden moments in a marriage that is truly unforgettable.
She picked up the next silky piece, a deep red sample called “Crimson Splash.” This color reminded Cathie of the dress her youngest daughter Beth had worn six years ago to her senior prom. Cathie closed her eyes, caressing the sample between her fingers, remembering the bittersweet emotions that had come with that special day. Beth had looked so beautiful. Even now, six years later, the memory brought tears to Cathie’s eyes.
“Have you decided on the color, dear?” a soft voice came from behind her, bringing Cathie back into the present.
Wiping the tears from her eyes, Cathie turned to face Irene, the owner of the shop. “Not really. There are so many choices. I didn’t realize it would be such big decision. It seems silly, really….” Cathie’s voice trailed off as she felt fresh tears beginning to form.
“It’s not silly at all,” Irene said, patting Cathie’s hand. “I remember when my own daughter came in to pick one out. She sat here for the longest time, picking up a sample and holding it in her hands, just the way you have today. I was thinking that you remind me so much of her.”
“Did she, um, is she…” Cathie stammered, trying not to ask the obvious question.
“No, dear, Julia isn’t with us anymore. She passed away five years ago.”
“I’m so sorry,” Cathie said. “I didn’t mean to bring up something so personal. It’s just that…”
“It’s okay.” Irene went on, “I like to talk about Julia. She was the light of my life and I still miss her every day. But talking about her doesn’t make me feel sad, it makes me feel close to her.”
“Do you mind if I ask another personal question?” Cathie asked.
“I don’t mind a bit.”
“Which color did Julia finally choose?”
Irene began to sort through the samples on the table. She had a puzzled look on her face at first, as if she couldn’t remember the exact color. Suddenly she selected a beautiful sample in the most melodic shade of brown and put it into Cathie’s hand.
“This is it,” Irene said gently, “this one called “Vibrant Chestnut.” Julia told me she finally decided on that color because it reminded her of the pony she used to have when she was ten. Julia said, ‘Momma, if God saw fit to give Dolly this color, then it’s good enough for me.’ And I must say that it really was the perfect color for Julia.”
Cathie looked down and the small, silky lock of hair lying in the palm of her hand. She ran her other hand through her own hair and felt the tears welling up as she considered the loss of her own locks. But the chemotherapy would be beginning soon and she knew she needed to make a decision.
“I think I’d like mine to be “Vibrant Chestnut” as well,” Cathie said softly, “in honor of Julia.”
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