In recent months, I have lived through a hurricane, a road trip across the United States, two noteworthy lawsuits, another dismal Jets’ season, and a life-changing decision with far-reaching professional consequences. Typical fodder for this blog and many have noticed my unusual silence. It’s not writer’s block – - that requires writer’s talent. It’s the creepy feeling that I keep saying the same things over and over again. But, once again, tragedy forces my hand.
She died this afternoon. She was 12. She was my neighbor and friend but I was not there for her final days. I didn’t even know these were them. But, I know how she died. With courage. And spirit. And love. And, her wry smile on her face. I sat with her a few weeks ago in temple while she waited to meet friends. She was telling me why she prefers chicken fingers over chicken nuggets. I laughed, but not to be polite. She was mesmerizing. I told her she should blog about it and I even offered a guest voice in these pages. She politely demurred. She did everything politely.
I talk a lot about strength and conviction and love. But to spend 5 minutes with her is to realize I don’t know the first thing about any of those things. And, I don’t know many who could stand within a football field of her expertise on those grown-up topics. Wait. I just thought of two people: her parents. The quietest, most humble, strongest people I know. Individuals who do not deserve this pain but who would immediately stand in anyone’s shoes if it meant absorbing other people’s hurt. Gentle souls who, quite literally, glow with the presence of God and all his kindness.
Their child was nothing less than a giant. She stared down pain and death, not in defiance, but with conviction and perspective. She transmitted more love in her short years than most will experience in their lifetimes. And, it transformed everyone with whom she came into contact.
She won’t be just missed. That is too trite and is an inadequate, meaningless perspective. Her powerful light, which illuminated the way for so many people, is extinguished. But, for the lucky ones who knew her, she leaves a roadmap that is prudently followed.