In November of 2002 I found myself driving from Washington, D.C., where I was living at the time, to my hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas. As I was crossing the Memphis-Arkansas Bridge between Memphis, Tennessee and West Memphis, Arkansas, I came out of my emotional haze and really saw the sunset that was overhead.
It was as if it was enveloping me in its vivid, lovely pink colors. So many things were unusual about that moment. I had viewed sunsets in the distance before, but had not really looked at one to the point of being totally mesmerized by its beauty. And it was unusual that this particular sunset was not in the distance. It was overhead, all around me.
I continued on my horrible journey thinking both about the pink sunset and what awaited me at the end of my drive. The reason I was coming home was due to my mother being rushed to the emergency room suffering from heart failure.
Rather than flying home, I drove because half of me clung to the hope that my mother would survive this most recent illness and I would take her back to D.C. with me. The other half of me was filled with utter despair, thinking that her chances of surviving this were slim.
Eventually, the latter proved to be true. My mother passed away. Being the only child, and due to my father having died seven weeks previously, funeral arrangements were my responsibility.
My mother, who was also my best friend, and I had talked about everything including the tough things like what clothes we wanted to be buried in and which casket design we preferred.
Mom had told me she thought of funerals as literally a time of being laid to rest and had given me instructions concerning what she wanted to be wearing when her time came. I knew exactly which pink nightgown and robe to give the funeral director. And my mother was buried in the casket she had chosen. It was cream in color with pink roses embellished on the exterior and the interior had pink lining.
I also chose flowers in her favorite color. A spray of pink roses adorned the top of the casket.
Not long after the funeral, and in an effort to pull myself out of a deep depression, I asked a friend if I could take her son go-cart riding. She agreed, and he heartily agreed knowing that we always have fun together.
At the time, he was too small to drive a go-cart by himself so we managed to situate ourselves in a cart and I took the wheel.
We were moving along at a pretty good clip, enjoying the thrill of the ride and the wind through our hair, when I glanced up at the horizon and immediately pulled the go-cart over to the side.
Of course the boy asked why I had stopped. I pointed to the sunset and asked him if he had ever seen anything so beautiful. He shook his head and said no. So we sat in the go-cart at the side of the track staring at a sky that was filled with a spectacular display of every shade of pink until it disappeared into the night.
It was at that moment I realized that pink sunsets are a sign from God and from my mother that she continues to watch over me. For me, seeing a pink sunset is like getting a warm hug from my mother. Pink sunsets bless my life and remind me of the purest love I have ever known.
I moved back to my hometown and, in fact, live in my parents’ home. It is filled with photographs that I took of my mother and there are also many of us together taken by kind strangers.
I took the photograph that accompanies this story, and it was taken from my parents’, my, backyard not long ago. While I can no longer take pictures of my beautiful mother, from time to time there are pink sunsets that I can photograph.