Heard today that a friend and former colleague passed away.
We worked together for a few short years as paraprofessionals, until I switched schools to complete student teaching, the final step in my university degree. It was an unexpected door that opened later in life for me.
My colleague encouraged me. She was an interesting, eclectic person who celebrated individuality and embraced life even as she absorbed some of its severest blows. I remember one sunny conversation we had about the word “eviscerated” — the gleam in her steely blue eyes never dimmed, whether burning with impassioned convictions or shining with compassionate discernment. She loved to laugh, to comfort, to speak of spiritual things.
One day she surprised me with a handmade card bearing a mysterious drawing on the front: “This is my prayer for you,” she said with a smile and those unwavering, bright eyes.
I kept it all these years, long after we lost touch. Long after I heard that her compromised, declining health rendered her unable to work.
I found the card again this week during my incessant pandemic purge. With the TV in the background broadcasting the rise of coronavirus deaths at a local nursing home, I reread the card, marveled anew at its artistry and sentiment, thought of her, wondered what became of her.
Today I learned she’s numbered among those dead.
—How many messages do we miss in life, because we aren’t “still” enough to receive them. How many moments do we miss because we don’t make time. How many gifts go unacknowledged because we can’t see them while looking through the lens of unfairness.
My friend didn’t miss. She understood. Far better than most.
She reminded me once, long ago.
She reminds me, still.
It’s a choice.
Just now, seize the day
Offer your own gifts in return
You’ll find joy for the taking
Seize Heaven now, joyful old friend.
Rest in sweet peace.