July 10, 2009 was the beginning of a magnificent journey. Ruby Joy burst out of the arms of heaven and in to ours. Her tiny frame of four pounds four ounces was saturated with miracles yet to behold. The doctors believed she’d only live 7 days – but as each day passed, we knew that Ruby had a life – a very full life – to live.
In spite of the cruel onslaught of disease, Ruby embraced each moment more deeply than most of us have dared. Before the age of three, Ruby’s toes tickled sand. Her lungs breathed – really breathed – the air of the mountains. She swam in the Deep South, belly laughed with her daddy and wept with her mommy. Being born blind was a part of her that simply needed to awaken. At two months old, Ruby’s eyes blinked wide open to life, and from that moment forward, she relentlessly locked her gaze to every challenge set before her.
Ruby mastered the art of contentment, regardless of her circumstances. She somehow lived separate from the pressure of what had come against her body – while we worked desperately to stand beneath it. In the midst of ongoing hospitalizations fighting for life, Ruby delighted us with her ever-evolving personality. She was strong, happy, and enchanting. There was a stubborn, invincible spirit in Ruby that steadily convicted us to believe not only for her – but with her, bonding us to her in a deep and unique way. It was the bedside way of loving, where you know and embrace wholeheartedly – what really matters.
Ruby lived a bright life inside of a dark space of disease, and in so doing, taught us what love looks like. In these last few months, more difficult challenges surfaced in her body. She was suffering. Intensely. We despised the disease, ran from it, tried to duck it, curse at it, throw things at it - but it chased us – hard. Ruby never stopped smiling – and we never stopped embracing, but seemingly at a moments notice, Ruby’s tenacity to live this side of eternity lessened, and we sensed that she was struggling. She wanted to go Home. And after a short and courageous fight with pneumonia, she did.
There are certain things that can only form in darkness, among them gems, rubies – and they are the most valuable. Ruby: the greatest privilege of our life, greatest gift of our life, greatest calling of our life, greatest teacher in our life, greatest person in our life – our daughter, our hero, our friend, Ruby Joy. Truly, the prized gem of our own flesh.
(Eulogy written by Becki Phillips & Katie Luse for Ruby Joy's memorial service commemorating her Home-going on March 14, 2012.)
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Ruby Joy, Finding Gems in Darkness
Katie Luse is a speaker and writer who is passionate about navigating life with eyes on a hunt for beauty.