Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Purple Scarf

by Beth Saadati

When my thirteen-year-old daughter unwrapped the Christmas gift, her eyes sparkled with delight. In the box were two beautiful scarves in her favorite color, purple. For the first time, Jenna and I would match.

I fingered the fringe and ran my hand across the woven cotton weave. Then I read the tag that said they were made by girls once broken, now set free. It told about their private world of pain that shouldn’t exist—about all the wrong of sex-trafficking trade.

We wore the scarves, and we remembered. Atop my winter wool pea coat, I gently wrapped the long length around my neck and let it warm me from the cold I hate.

But Jenna found a second use for hers. Knotting it around the waists of her young sister and brother, she let them lead like horses while she held the reins. Squealing, they ran, lap-looping inside our small ranch.

A more cautious mom would have ended it. Instead, hearing them laugh with childlike delight, I merely delivered the dutiful “Make sure no one gets hurt!”

"Don’t worry! We won’t!” yelled Jenna. Even though, eventually, someone always would.

Not once did I think, in the same room a year later, words would be spoken that no parents’ ears should ever have to hear: “Your daughter is dead. It appears she took her own life.”

A policewoman asked if there was anything special about her purple scarf. What had happened was more than I could comprehend. Imagining how it must have occurred was beyond what I could bear.

At my request, friends packed up Jenna’s remaining scarves. With no desire to see mine again, I then rid myself of the only one I owned.

Two years later, however, something in me wanted it back. Though never again could I wear it, I longed to see it, touch it, hold it as a tangible reminder of what Jenna and I once shared. In faith, I asked for the impossible. 

Soon spring came, and April arrived. In her room, Christa, my younger daughter, tried on her summer hand-me-downs.

“Call me when you’re done,” I said, “and I’ll put away the sorted clothes.” When she finished, I entered the room. There, in the middle of the floor, lay a pile of purple.

In wonder I stared, then picked up the scarf, felt its softness, viewed its hue. Saturated with memories, I hugged it close and cried.

Because this was never how it was supposed to be. Jenna overflowed with life—maybe more than anyone I’ve known. She laughed. She loved. She embraced story.

She was filled with dreams, with goals, with plans. She wanted to live. But, in a moment of pain birthed from lies that had somehow lodged in her heart and mind, she stopped knowing how.

In a wooded area 150 steps away, she lost sight of the ray of light that still shone through the shadow of the trees surrounding her.

She forgot that the beauty of spring always follows the barrenness of winter. That the dreary gray eventually blooms to color.

That she was so close to home, so close to love.

That she was a beautiful daughter of the King, her true identity royal. That she was wrapped and cloaked in . . . purple.

If she could speak, she would tell us to choose to live. To love. To let ourselves be loved.

She would tell us to see the truth that fogged her view—that we, too, are clothed in purple.

And, because we are, hope always remains. 

Even though, sometimes, it can be so hard to see.


  1. Thank you for sharing such deep emotion....I'm so touched.

    1. You're welcome, Tina. Thanks for journeying through this with me. Your willingness to bear some of the pain with me is beautiful.

  2. The incredible courage, the depth of love and wisdom with which you tell this story go straight to the heart. You're showing what beauty from ashes can look like, Beth. Wrapping you in blessings.

    1. Thank you, Marcia. For over two years I've been asking the Father for those things--His courage, love, wisdom, and beauty. Your words are encouraging, giving hope.

  3. Thank you for sharing something so heartfelt and genuine. As a regular substitute teacher at CTC, I had Jenna in class many times. I enjoyed getting to know her, and loved her kind and giving nature. She was a beautiful soul, and a little bit of light went out of the world when she left it.

  4. Reading this means more to me than you can probably imagine. It's been more than three years since Jenna was at CTC, yet you still remember. That amazes me and touches my heart. Thank you for taking time to tell me, Chris.

  5. Beth, I'm so proud of you for sharing your heart with others. I know Jenna would be so proud of her mama :) congratulations on launching your blog!

  6. You've encouraged me more than you may ever know--through listening, through critiquing, through our time at BRMCWC. Thank you, Carol. Please tell me the launch is the hardest part of blogging, though, because this has worn me out. :) (Also, could you teach me how to edit a reply after I publish one? That's why I had to delete the last two!)

  7. Simply beautiful, Beth. Your transparency is a testimony of God's unspeakable grace and mercy. Jenna's story is now your story. Perhaps it always was. :) You are a wonderful mother...and example for us all, sweet friend. I look forward to your future posts. So proud of you for launching this blog!

    1. "Jenna's story is now your story." Since I saw your comment, I haven't been able to stop thinking about that. I suppose it's true; I'd just never thought of it that way. Once again, it's bittersweet. Still, your words speak hope and courage into me. Thank you, Cathy. I'm thankful for you.

  8. Beth, words fail me. Thank you for sharing this part of your life. You give us hope when there seems to be none, and remind that love surrounds us whether we see it or not.

  9. Thank you, Edie, for eloquently speaking theme and truth back to me. Thank you for challenging me to attempt to word Jenna's story despite the emotions it stirs up in me. By vulnerably sharing your own story and writing journey, you've shown me how to press through, trust, and refuse to quit. It's like having a coach who pushes you to do what you never thought you could. Please know that I'm grateful.