As a way of remembrance for Norah Rayne, the high school she attended had a balloon release before the state playoffs. Everyone was requested to wear purple, even the opposing team because purple was Norah's favorite color. That night, before the balloon release, a beautiful reminder of how God was working appeared in the sky; The sunset was purple. Not blue, orange, or gold, but a lovely shade of purple only made by a creator showing His handiworks.
Below is the eulogy made by Norah's mother at her funeral. It embodies who she was, her passion for Christ, and her enthusiasm for pursuing a merciful God that never fails. As you read her mother's eulogy below, you will soon realize the true meaning of the color purple and how it encompassed the entire purpose behind the message God was speaking to us all that Saturday night at the playoffs; God is alive and He never stops working.
I want to share with you a story about my precious daughter Norah. I love to write and I love to tell stories about my girls and the lessons each one has taught me. Writing helps me process my feelings and sharing this story with you today gives me hope of healing and renewing my spirit.
This is a picture of Norah taken on Navarre Beach in Florida. It was the most perfect day and in my opinion, it is one of the most beautiful beaches we as a family have ever visited. I sat beside her near the surf while Rodney, Miah and Annah were under our umbrella. Her intense expression while playing in the sugar sand has always made me wonder what she was thinking.
To calm my nerves as I continue, I ask each of you present today to close your eyes and allow me to take you on a journey with my original beach baby.
Imagine as an 8 year old child the excitement of an upcoming vacation. The anticipation of finally helping your Daddy load the car and heading east to our beautiful North Carolina Coast. Asking over and over, are we there yet and knowing that when we get to Rockingham we will be half way. Not much farther now. Mom begins calling out county lines. I know I need to listen for Brunswick. I can see from my mom’s expression we are really close now. I see the bridge and there below is the inter‐coastal waterway, the sunlight sparkling like diamonds on the water and so many boats kicking up wakes. We’ve made it! Honk the horn! Mommy, roll the windows down, I want to smell the salty air, I want to feel the sunshine on my face and I want to take in the beach.
You can open your eyes now.
Norah loved the beach. She loved to smell the salty air. She loved to play in the sand, she loved to search for shells and she loved to swim in the ocean. To Norah, the beach was our spiritual and magical place.
People are like sand. Individual grains of sand may seem insignificant but when they come together they can make beautiful sculptures. Norah loved the pure white sand that almost seemed translucent. I can remember her saying how the sand exfoliated her skin to make her feet feel so soft. Sand is soft and abrasive at the same time. People, like sand, can also be messy, coarse and sadly abrasive. But that didn’t matter to Norah. Like the sand, she loved people regardless of whether they were soft or harsh. She accepted people just as they were.
Norah loved seashells. And unlike most people, including myself who only searched for the perfect shells, Norah would pick up the broken shells that no one else wanted or even noticed. She recognized that the broken shells had once been whole, had been through the turbulent sea, found rest on the shore and to her they were beautiful. Norah was genuinely interested in the lives of those around her and she saw the good potential in others. Every day, she chose to see the good and every day she chose to be the good.
Our bodies are mostly made of water. Sometimes in scripture the Holy Spirit is described like water. We are baptized with water and the Holy Spirit, and like water, the Holy Spirit lives inside of us. Perhaps that’s why Norah and I were always drawn to the water. Maybe we love the ocean because it draws us nearer to God. Maybe the ocean is a glimpse of what heaven is like.
Norah was the one in the family who would prepare everyone to go to the beach. She took great joy in finding the family the most perfect place to stay and always preparing the list of what to pack. Norah was the kind of person who looked ahead. She enjoyed that one week in the summer when we were all together. Late night card games, early morning walks on the beach and countless trips to the DQ. That’s what mattered to her, being fully present with one another with no distractions. She always said the end of vacation was the saddest day.
This picture has hung in Norah’s room since 2012. Heaven must be like looking out upon the vast beauty of the infinite ocean and being most present with our creator. Eternity is unending. There are no sad days and once there, we never have to leave paradise. I asked Rodney to gather the pictures of Norah that meant the most to us. This one summed up her life perfectly. I know this because when I looked on the back of the frame, in the upper left corner, written in purple in her handwriting, are the words God Not Dead. I don’t know when she wrote it, but I will assume she was young, by the handwriting and the obvious omission of the apostrophe S. That part really doesn’t matter to me. What is most important is that God was and is alive in Norah’s heart. She shared that with everyone.
I will be forever thankful for the outpouring love and support you have given to me and my precious family during this most difficult time. Being Norah’s mother was one of God’s greatest gifts and I will honor her by reminding others that because He lives we can face tomorrow:
Live Like Norah.