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Monday, February 14, 2011

Red Roses for Dawn

One of our nephews, Dr. Jonathan Yoder, decided on impulse one day to have a half dozen red roses delivered to his wife Dawn’s door. It was January 26, 2009, and he wanted to express his love for her on the thirtieth anniversary of their engagement.

In his haste to get in his order in on one of his busy days at his Atmore, Alabama, practice, he mistakenly ordered six dozen roses instead, which meant 72 of these fragrant beauties were delivered to his awestruck wife instead of six. Dawn was way beyond simply surprised, of course, and Jon, though chagrined at what he had to pay for his extravagance, figured his beloved wife was worth every bit of that and more, so the two of them enjoyed a huge laugh over his mistake.

Neither of them could have imagined that on July 6, just over five months later, 50-year-old Dawn would be fatally struck by lightning just outside their home while taking out some household trash. When a friend from her church found her lying on the ground unconscious, she was rushed to a nearby hospital emergency room, then transferred to a medical center in Mobile where she lay in a coma and on life support for two agonizing days of waiting before being pronounced dead.

In an e-mail circulated among members of the extended family, Jon described his experience during that time,.. “My heart cries out... as I see my wife, and our children's mother lying helplessly, and I ask why?  But two things I know is that God is strong, and that he is loving.  Dawn remains essentially in a coma this morning with only the faintest response to pain, and minimal fluttering of the eyelids.  It is hard to see her like that, but we are praying for faith for a miracle...  There remains a huge knot in my abdomen where my stomach used to be, and the future looks uncertain...but one thing we know is who is in control....Continue to pray.... Your outpourings of love and support for us mean a lot more than you will ever know;  God is faithful...”

Dawn died on July 8, 2009, terribly missed as the wonderful mother of four young adult children, two sons and two daughters, and as the wife of Jonathan, with whom she lived and loved for 29 blessed years. She was a selfless and giving person who served her family, church family and community in countless ways, and who left a multitude of friends and family members in a prolonged state of grief and disbelief.

There is more to the story. Several years before Dawn had given her oldest daughter a rose bush to plant for her birthday, one of the unusually fragrant and rich red “Mr. Lincoln” variety. For years it bloomed faithfully every spring, but during the months following Dawn’s tragic death, it appeared to have died, resulting in Jonathan's deciding to simply mow over the remaining brown stems with his lawnmower.

To his surprise, however, a green shoot reappeared this past spring, bravely rising up from the mowed down plant. And as Jonathan lovingly watered and nourished the revived bush in memory of his one and only Dawn, it began to green and thrive.

Later last summer, on the July 17  morning of their oldest son Robert's wedding, Jon witnessed the resurrected plant’s first bloom of the season, an exceptionally beautiful dark red rose that reminded him powerfully of his precious Dawn.

It was as if she were saying, "I am still with you. Nothing we had together will ever be completely lost. Everything will bloom again forever. "

So we remember Dawn, surrounded by countless rich red roses.
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