Friday, May 28, 2010

The Walk Home

I was a few blocks from home when I saw them: a group of four pre-teen kids (a mix of male and female) hanging out in front of a house down the street from my own. They were talking to each other and pointing to one kid's shirt. As I got closer, I could see that this kid was wearing a (clean) maxi-pad stuck to his shirt. And his friends were laughing - not at him, but at the fact that I had noticed. And as I walked by, one kid said, "Don't mind them - they're all crazy!"

As I walked towards home laughing, I thought, "These are the kids I'd be friends with if I were their age."

Friday, May 21, 2010

These are the questions I ask every day, on my way, on my way, on my way...*

I was walking home today, in a rush to get there and finish packing before driving up to Maine, and walked past two people sitting on a bench.

"Excuse me?" said the female, "Could you answer a question for us?"

"Sure" I shrugged.

"What do you think your purpose in life is?"

"Um, I, uh..."

"We're not going to record your answer or anything. We're just having a discussion and wanted to get more input."

"Well..." I began, "I guess I'm not sure where to go with that... do you mean career-wise, or personally, or...?"

"How about answering this question instead," said the male. "Which is more rewarding: interpersonal connections or self-satisfaction?"

I thought for a moment before I responded, "I don't believe one can have self-satisfaction without interpersonal connections."

They seemed satisfied with my answer and I continued on my way.

What about you? Would you have stopped to answer questions from strangers? What would your answers have been?


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

For Cragin

I didn't know you well (I think we met once), but we shared a history. We were part of the same group, but in distinct time periods. We sang the same songs, but next to different people.

Today I received news that you died this weekend. And it brought back memories of a night more than 11 years ago, when another group member was lost. I am sick to think how your friends must feel now, as I remember all too clearly the shock and disbelief I felt then.

Even though I know you and Christine never met in real life, I imagine you two finding each other in Heaven. I imagine you both becoming friends and starting your own a cappella group. And that makes me smile.

If there is a chance to sing for you in a few weeks when I'm on campus, you can bet I'll be there.

Until then, I share the song we sang for Christine. I sing it for you tonight.

She sang beyond the genius of the sea.
The water never formed to mind or voice...
That was not ours although we understood...
The sea was not a mask. No more was she...

And when she sang, the sea,
Whatever self it had, became the self
That was her song, for she was the maker.

As we beheld her striding there alone,
Knew that there never was a world for her
Except the one she sang and, singing, made.

And when she sang, the sea,
Whatever self it had, became the self
That was her song, for she was the maker.

- Wallace Stevens

Friday, May 14, 2010

Rain, Rain

I walked home in the rain tonight. There was thunder and lightening in the distance, and as I got closer to home the rain came down harder and harder. If it weren't for my new shoes getting wet, it would have been a lovely walk home.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

She Said

"It's been five months last week," she said.

I couldn't believe how much time had passed.

"It's been a tough week," she said.

My phone call had made her cry.

"People tell me I visit his grave too often," she said.

I told her they were wrong.

"I often wonder what might have been," she said. "Did we make the right choices? Did we do what was best for him?" and then an urgent plea - "Please tell me that we did."

I comfort her and reassure her as best as I can, because I was witness to his final days and I know that he was loved beyond measure.

And as she remembers, so do I.

And for a moment, there is no talking. Just silent tears between us.


I was witness. I sometimes forget what an incredible honor and responsibility that is. And I sometimes forget how important it is to remain connected to these families. To remember with them. To talk about their angels when no one else knows what to say.

More often than not, I don't know what to say. I get overwhelmed by the idea of picking up the phone to make that call, so I put if off until "later", though of course I have no clear plan as to when "later" might be.

But on my brave days, I pick up the receiver and dial the number. And on those days I am rewarded with a raw and most pure form of human connection. Those days remind me more than any others why I do the work I do.

I want to be brave more often, because it feels good to listen. It feels good to talk. And it feels good to remember the angels.