I remember that afternoon. Walking from Mom’s car directly to the choir room, as I’d been instructed. I was six. It wasn’t a big deal because there were always people in the choir room, which was a shared space between Transfig and PDS. The building was also quite small, but the hugest one. There were always people around.
For some reason? Not that afternoon. And, the choir room was locked.
I was prone to being an explorer, as the cast on my arm might have suggested. I wandered into the nearest office area, where I saw her.
It’s easy to remember what I thought because I thought the same thing last week, and she wasn’t even there.
Tall. Gorgeous. THAT VOICE.
She told me I was in the right place. She told me it would be just fine for me to wait with her until everyone else arrived.
There was an assurance, through her timbre and her posture. She was elegance personified. I knew it then.
I went to her every week. For over a dozen years. For over a hundred reasons. The buildings got bigger, but her ego did not. She was the same, beautiful person in service to education, to children, to God.
That was 36 years ago. I knew it then. I know it, as if it were a Gospel truth, now.
I missed you so very much in my “years away,” your phrase. I came back in the fall of 2016, and you lost him. Our Ed. Jesus, life is cruel. Now, we all lost you.
The emptiness I felt on Sunday without you. Palpable. I cried. I was in church the week before, Casey was so wonderful when he announced that you were gone, but I was still in shock. But Sunday, I saw a salt and pepper-haired, lovely lady…but, she was short. I pretended she was you. I want you in that church. I need you.
You promised me that we would find Henry’s way together. I was so scared when I came back, with a little baby. “You will be just fine.” I think I even have that exact comment from you on a random Facebook post, which you did once a year! Did I mention that I need you? Did I mention that we need you? This world needs you?
On January 12th, it’s not my day to grieve you. It’s my day to celebrate you, the way we celebrated Ed, and I will. I remember what you said, “I wasn’t even sad…I was jubilant. I didn’t feel consolation, I felt joy. It was perfect.” When Joel told me you were gone, we talked about your service. I remember when you entered the church that day for Ed’s service. You entered as I sang. You looked up at me. It damn near killed me.
You are gone. You won’t look up at me.
But, you’ll look down on me and I will sing to you. You lived a life of service. You are where sorrow does not reign, but perpetual light shines, on all the saints, in glory.
I’ll remember you now, for who you were, you are, and you will always be to me and to my son: Educator. Glamazon. Friend. MOTHER. Confidant. Wife. Headmistress. Warrior. Ranger-ette. Lady. Daughter. Leader. Thinker. Mediator. Episcopalian. Servant. Exemplar.
You will always be elegance personified, in my eyes. I love you, always.