Danielle’s last day. I have been dreading this. Not wanting it to happen. Denial you might say. Carrying on as if it’s just another day.
Leila has come in to get oriented to filling in.
There ‘s a commotion outside. The facility where Sean has been staying has just deposited all his earthly possessions in front of the church. He approaches me in his wheel chair. Uh, Bob, I have to ask a favor…(Uh oh…) Just until Friday, I promise….
I go talk this over with Danielle. Congregants would shoot me for doing this. We’re trying to get everything out. Not take anything more in. We look at each other. You know, she says, he’s been more honest and responsible than anyone else who’s ever left anything here. He says the Goddard folks have a storage place. That if it’s not gone by Friday, we can throw it away…
OK, I say, OK. And I tell Sean Friday, no later.
Jenn from next door comes in. She’d taken her daughter to the Hiroshima event the other night. Struggled to figure out how to explain it to her daughter. Try Sadako and the 1000 paper cranes, I say, as we look at paper cranes. Of course, she says. (http://www.abebooks.com/Sadako-Thousand-Paper-Cranes-Eleanor-Coerr/11904655874/bd?cm_mmc=gmc-_-gmc-_-PLA-_-v01).
David S comes in excitedly to report that Sean has many big bags in front of the church. I tell him we know. He’s got until Friday.
I have to go to Central Park to marry my Dutch and Mexican couple. Maybe there’s just enoughoif a window before the rains fall…
Between the wedding and the dinner, I come back. No more avoiding it. Time for final words with Danielle. We talk about our three years together. The good. The bad. The unforgettable people. The grinding days of uncertainty and no resources. The moments of celebration, like winning the presbytery vote, or hearing a grant that she had written was approved. Some of the quiet moments when we just were all together as a community, like Christmas carolling. And most of all, the most amazing array of people she had ever encountered.
She came to us straight from Iowa. And brought Iowa common sense with her. But quietly loved the infinite and stunning diversity of the people who come up the steps through our doors. She treated each and every person with dignity and respect, no matter who they were. Homeless, artists, crazies, political aids, all just people. And she completely got it, that is that sometimes elusive, even hard to define reality we are trying to create. She lived that out daily. Stayed loyal through thick and thin and there was more thin than thick. Through the long dark winter of 2013-14. Always willing to believe that the spring just might come. It was hard to remember the empty time before she came, me working alone at home, camping out in another church’s basement. She helped reopen our doors. She always believed in what could be. And she believed in me. And for that I am, and will be, ever thankful.
To say she will be missed is so not enough.