Jayme is beautiful. There is nothing plain jane or small thinking about her. Upon meeting this bombshell, I remember that she was the always-booked, master designer behind the new Viva Voce Salon hot spot downtown Hudson. Regular, every day people would come into the salon tired, exhausted by the world and its demands and leave completely refreshed and glamourous. It is a waste to see Jayme and then go home. For the the love, have a date or find a reason for a girlfriend dinner. Because by the time she’s done with you, you’re going to look bomb.
When she was 18, Jayme approached her family’s mailbox, only to find a note about God’s leading to “still waters” (Psalm 23:2b). Naturally, she took that as a reason to accept a job at a spa in “Stillwater,” Minnesota. She moved over two hours away from home and anyone she knew, without question. Soon thereafter, she left to work at the nearby Viva Voce Salon in Hudson. Only in her wildest dreams, could she have imagined what happened next.
The then Viva Voce Salon owner approached Jayme about ownership and she accepted! She gratefully forged ahead, fearlessly trusting in God to show her the way.
Not only was Jayme good at her job; she was fast. Like lightening fast. Never have I ever seen a full foil, color retouch and a mens cut play out as fast and well as Jayme executes them during processing time. And that’s nothing. When she first took over the salon, she gave it a minute. But soon after, new stylists, new menus, and shiny restored chandeliers were in place (and let me be crystal clear when I say that the salon was already creme-de-la-creme cute). Contracts were signed and before we knew it, Viva had expanded into the romantic LOFT space upstairs, which was whisked into a white, dreamy mess of bridal party styles and coffee on weekends. The space across from the salon (Vocha Beauty Bar), became a makeup artist’s dream. Once she had conquered the building, Jayme took a moment to sit down. And that’s when it hit her.
The last four years had meant great success for my friend, and thankfully so as distraction from what might have derailed the rest of us. What not everyone realized at the time, was that while young Jayme was busy building Viva and pampering others, she had lost her father, three grandparents and her mother…all within 3 years.
Jayme and her equally beautiful sisters, Whitney and Lindsey, are three of the most resilient people I know. I’ll never forget the strength that the three of them exuded as they stood at their mother’s visitation. I don’t know what I was expecting to see that day but they were illuminated by a light shining down from Heaven. They had a holy, unnatural presence that I can only attribute to God. My limited perspective of their upbringing tells the story of a sweet family in Southern, rural Minnesota. They were raised by two loving parents who always had their best interests in mind. But the demon of alcohol had, had its way with their Dad and the family paid for it, dearly. When the treatment program failed, no one knew what to do. Jayme recalls visiting her Mom (Carrie) & siblings, who were staying with friends and family during that timeframe – going house to house as they tried to figure out what came next. She and her sisters brought their father to a final treatment program following his divorce from their mother; but the results were temporary. Carrie was then reacquainted with and eventually married to her high school sweetheart (Jeff), who gently loved on and restored her.
Jayme’s father, Gary, was not as fortunate. On December 15th, 2011, he was diagnosed with a hole in his esophagus. The hole was surgically repaired but nothing could prevent the organ damage that returning to the bottle took on his body. Jayme recalls taking him shopping for a suit to wear to her sister Lindsey & then finance, Shane’s, wedding in June of 2012 – nothing in his own closet fit the frail and shrunken frame he had become. Their mother Carrie, was also ill during this timeframe and upon seeing one another at the ceremony, Gary wept. It had never been his intention to hurt her or the girls and he was sad to see his bride, also ill. He passed away on October 26th, 2013.
I imagine that it’s easier to see all of the good in the people we hold most dear, once they are gone. To imagine the conversations we wish we could have had, the memories we wish they’d been a part of. We remember what they really excelled at, and how good they made us feel. The greatest gift we can give them is to remember them with grace! And that is exactly what Jayme and her sisters have done.
In 2011, Jayme’s Mother, Carrie, received a physical exam and brought a slight bump in her abdomen to the doctor’s attention. The bump turned out to be a cancerous tumor on her pancreas. Just after her daughter, Lindsey’s, wedding in June of 2012, she had it removed. The “whipple procedure” surgery was intense, but it worked. For a while. In July of 2013, spots on Carrie’s liver were found. She was put on chemo pills, which seemed to work wonderfully and without side effects, till September of 2014. The pills had ceased to be effective and a scan the following month unveiled growth in the liver spots. After having multiple doctors advise against the risky surgery needed, Dr. Kendrick of Mayo, accepted the challenge. Carrie’s daughter, Lindsey, later said that “hearing that the tumors could be surgically removed was the BEST news ever.” It was what they had been waiting to hear.
Despite a successful surgery accompanied by her stance of positivity, the dark disease had grabbed hold of Carrie and didn’t want to let go. Over the Summer of 2016, Jayme brought her mother to an alternative medicine clinic in Mexico. They spent their days receiving treatment, soaking up the sun and then retreating to their room to relax. The meal plan was green and the doctors were perplexed – how could someone in Carrie’s condition possibly remain so strong and emotionally positive? She was a mystery to everyone she encountered. Her faith remained strong as she boldly stated that she would be the exception. ..that she would be healed! She and Jayme shared treasured mother/daughter time.
At the airport on their way home, Jayme pushed the now wheelchair-bound, Carrie, to her Missouri terminal. While in line, she spotted a son of similar age, pushing his own mother in a wheelchair. The other Mom was very ill and was missing all of her hair. She wept as she turned around and embraced him, telling him through tears that she loved him, in case it was the last chance she’d have to tell him so. After helping her Mom onto the plane, Jayme cried her own tears as she walked down to board her Minneapolis flight. What was God trying to tell her in all of this? While crying on the plane, she encountered a man who comforted her, and two additional strangers who were discussing cancer and the importance of spending as much time as possible with those whom we love. Strange as it seemed, she felt that God was preparing her heart.
Moments after leaving the Mexican clinic, Carrie had begun complaining of immense stomach pain; so much so, that her husband rushed her to the hospital immediately upon her return to Missouri, where she was treated for dehydration, pneumonia and the swelling of her abdomen/legs. She was discharged, home, and things weren’t looking good. So her three girls brought her to Mayo for one last attempt to save her life.
Jayme recalls her mother becoming lively and talking calmly with each of her girls during that time; reality had not sunk in. There were lots of family prayers and peaceful memories. But the one that stands out the most is of her precious Mom on the last day of her life. She was non-responsive that day, as Jayme remembers, laying by her side and holding her hand. All of the sudden, Carrie’s eyes darted forward and focused for the first time in 24 hours – straight at the painting of her Savior, Jesus, on the wall. Jayme and her sisters’ beacon of light and strength surrendered and went home to Him on September 6th, 2016.
Why one family has been marked by so much tragedy is a mystery to me. Jayme has said that she wouldn’t wish loss on anyone. But if I’ve ever seen the verse, “God is close to the brokenhearted” come to life, it has been through Jayme and her two sisters. Perhaps it was the tenacity that their mother had instilled in them at a young age – never to see the world from a negative perspective; always positive. To choose love. To see the good in everyone and to press forward with grace and appreciation. And perhaps it was God, who never left their side. Who grabbed hold of their hands and hearts and led them better than any of us could have throughout their journey. Whatever it was, I attribute their family’s faith to Carrie Anderson – a true warrior for the Lord to the end!
“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says do not fear. I will help you!” -Isaiah 41:13
Today, my friend still stands strong as the owner of a successful business in a booming town. I’m proud of her. Proud of her success, her strength, her stamina. But what I’m most proud of is her unwavering faith. Not once during all of this did I ever see her doubt God’s intentions or get angry with Him – even when it would have been justified. She never gave up or gave in. She didn’t let the tragedy make her dark. She simply stood and endured, just as we are called to do. Her faith is God-given and she knows it. The next time you’re in her chair, ask Jayme about her God stories and then sit back and enjoy the ride. There have been times in her life where she fully relied on Him, financially, from a business point. She has trusted Him to comfort her while she was living on her own, and fully embraced Him when she didn’t know where else to turn. With family over two hours away, Jayme has done it all herself, through humble faith. Although I would never say that she’s ever been alone. She is truly surrounded by God signs and angels around every corner. She looks for them in every aspect of her day and lives with the intention of growing closer to God.
Carrie Anderson, was born on March 30th, 1961 and entered Heaven on September 6th, 2016. But she lives on in her family’s hearts. Her daughters never left her side and were present for each and every doctor’s appointment at Mayo. As such, it’s no surprise to them that her daughter Lindsey’s twins are due on the same day that Carrie passed, 1 year later. They will be just floors away from the last place they were embraced by their Mother, and they know without a doubt that she orchestrated this!
“Return to your stronghold, you prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.” -Zechariah 9:12
Jayme, Lindsey and Whitney have started a foundation that insists upon nurturing others who are in the hospital with those they love. It strives on beautifying those who don’t take the time to beautify themselves and it takes pleasure in bringing small joys to families who have gone through similar struggles over the past few years. More information on Hearts of Love, coming soon!
(this picture is of Carrie with Jayme and Jayme’s niece, Kenlee & nephew, Weston)
Pic Credit: Donae Cotton Photography