Sunday, November 2, 2008


I mostly process things with words.
The exciting things. The happy things. The hard things in life come out
in a jumble of words on paper or in a flow of characters across the computer screen.
It has been this way since jr. high.
Since Nick, the pitcher on my brother's baseball team, seemed so unattainable.
I recorded in my purple padded journal (with great joy) the first time he accepted a wad of big league chew bubblegum that I passed to him through the chain link fence.
And then there was that one time (5 gagillion) when I felt lonely in high school,
all of that flowed into sad angst ridden poems and word pictures in my
three ring binder. I tried to make sure my sorrow rhymed. It was better that way.
Tonight I am trying to process the 2 services that I attended this weekend.
The memorial services of two people who left their imprint on my life.
Claudine was family. She was my cousin Jessica's mother-in-law and my cousin
Alys's aunt. Even though we didn't share blood, we shared people.
And when you share people, you are family.
That is what she told me when she and her sister, Glynnis, agreed to do
the flowers for my wedding. She said to me, "Of course we will, you are family."
I remember telling them I had no idea what flowers I wanted but I wanted
them to be different colors because the bridesmaids dresses were off white.
I was all very vague about it. They came up with the most lovely of hydrangea laden bouquets, dusted in colors of deep burgundys and greens.
Beauty. On my wedding day, she and Glynnis made my best day...better.
And all the while I got the feeling that Claudine and Glynnis were having maybe
more fun than I was because every time I would see them, they were laughing.
Enjoying every minute of being together and creating this beauty between them.
Like sisters are wont to do. And I understood this. Because I have sisters.
It seems Claudine spread joy and beauty to whomever she touched.
She savored life. She made the ordinary special.
a quick lunch at El Rosal could turn into a full afternoon of laughter and companionship.
It was the essence of who she was, even at the end of her fight with cancer.
And then there was the service for Ralph.
One of Scott's and his best friend, Ben's, youth kids.
And when Scott and I got married, he became my youth kid, too.
We still call them youth kids. Even though these kids are nearing 30.
Ralph led with funny. You could count on whatever came out of his mouth being funny.
And he followed up the funny with love.
Because you could count on a hug right after the funny. At least I could.
Scott and Ralph would just clown each other relentlessly until someone would give.
Or until so many lines had been crossed that they had to stop,
lest they lose their salvation.
This continued even after Ralph had to have his leg amputated due to cancer.
I saw him in the church parking lot. He was sitting in the car.
His leg was still bandaged. I told him we were praying for him.
And asked, "Is there anything we can do for you?"
He thought for a moment and said,
"Maybe if Scott could put on some sparkly shorts and dance for me that would help."
I told him I would pass the message along.
He went on to tattoo a milk carton with a picture of a footprint on it on his other calf, just in case someone had seen his missing foot.
He put others at ease with his humor even when we didn't know how to address the painful journey he was going through.
There will never be another Ralph. There will never be another Claudine.
There has been a lot of crying going on. A lot of missing them.
There is no getting past that.
And I am not sure how to process that. Even with words.
Words can not encompass the spirit. The spirit of one shaped in the image of God.
But I will be praying for Claudine's family. And I will be praying for Ralph's family.
The ones they loved so well. The ones they loved best. The ones who will miss them the most.
And I will be remembering them.
With a deep sense of gratitude, for having known them,
for having experienced a bit of life with them,
and for them having left their mark upon my soul.

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.g. said...

I think you have a great way of expressing emotion and telling a story. It's so unique and refreshing. I'm not sure if you've heard of this project but it's great. Everyone is encouraged to write what they believe in and some are invited to read their essays on the radio. It makes me smile and reminds me of how good people really are.

There is also a project called Story Corps where a person interviews another person on anything in their life. It's all recorded and both programs have podcasts.

julie said...

This was lovely, Sue, especially the line: "And when you share people, you are family." I love that.