Tag Archives: grief

Smiles remembered after all these years

I know this day well; I never forget it; it invariably sneaks up on me and grabs me unaware; and when I pause for a moment to reflect, I remember why things feel so raw. After all these years. And then I smile.

People have been posting on Facebook about remembering this day because of the Challenger disaster. I remember that. 

But I remember this day for an event that took place twelve years before the Challenger. An event that also claimed the lives of educators.

Forty years ago this day,  on January 28, 1974, William Koenig climbed into a small plane with another educator from Grove City. They planned a trip to Harrisburg, the state capitol, where they were to advocate for funds for the Grove City Public School system. At the time of his death, Bill worked as the assistant superintendent for the Grove City Public School system. But he was a musician. He played string bass in the pit orchestra for the high school musicals. He directed the town band. He was a tennis player. He was a photographer. He was also a private pilot. Though they had tickets on a commercial airline, the two colleagues decided Bill would fly. The plane went down near Emlenton, Pennsylvania, the crash site only located the next day. When I arrived at JFK a day later, after a college choir trip to Europe, family members met me and broke the news and shattered my heart.

Because grief lasts, I raise a glass to remember loses and acknowledge pains. And because love never ends, I raise a glass to give thanks and to celebrate love shared past, present, and future.  On this anniversary, I raise a glass to William Koenig, to his life, to the time, the far too short time, we shared. To all I learned. To laughter and tears. To music made well and badly. To a multitude of remembered smiles.

Goodnight and joy be with you, Dad.

Goodnight and joy be with us all.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Family, Music

Heavy, aching, longing heart: Officer Ramos and Officer Liu

The brutal killing of Officer Rafael Ramos and Officer Wenjian Liu of the New York Police Department shocks and angers me.

I grieve for Officer Ramos and Officer Liu. I grieve for their families who encounter empty spaces in their homes and have holes ripped in their hearts. I grieve for the comrades of Officer Ramos and Officer Liu. I grieve for their friends. I grieve for every police officer and every family member who wonder and worry during each shift if they will come home. I give thanks for the service provided by Officer Ramos and Officer Liu, beloved children of God.

Violence, all violence, is unacceptable. It solves nothing. It breeds more violence.

With a heavy heart, I pray for Office Ramos and Office Liu; for their families, their friends, their comrades

With an aching heart, I pray that all people might turn from violence.

With a longing heart, I pray for transformation.

See you along the Trail.

 

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Filed under Current Events, New York

Lift a glass in memory

PamThe Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) lost a giant in Pam Byers who died on 27 October 2014 from cancer. A woman of profound faith, amazing grace, and a loving spirit, Pam worked for the full inclusion of all God’s children in the life of the church and in  our culture. She served as the founding director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians.

In her honor, I will raise a toast on 28 October 2014 at 20:11 (8:11 PM) Eastern time. 2011 was the year that saw the Book of Order changed to remove G-6.0106b, a cause to which Pam dedicated herself and her energies.

I invite you to join me either at Eastern time or at 20:11 in your own time zone and raise a glass of your choosing.
For the life, faith, witness, and work of Pam Byers, thanks be to God! Please share this invitation.

See you along the Trail.

 

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Filed under Friends, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Trust they know

My head hurts
my heart hangs heavy
my gut aches
for dear friends
whose
heads hurt and
hearts hang heavy and
guts ache
as they live through
challenging, painful,
stressful, disturbing,
unjust, oppressive
situations where
I can do nothing
but hold them close
in my aching gut
my heavy hurt
my heavy heart
and trust they know
how deeply I care.

8 October 2014
Louisville, KY

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Never, Merdine T., never

Some messages should be delivered in person and not left in a voice mail box or sent by email.

Some times we have no choice but to leave such messages.

Tricia left one for me today.

I think I said farewell“Sorry to have to leave a voice mail. I need to leave. But I just got an email that Merdine T. died last night. And I wanted you to know.”

Some realities cannot be expressed adequately in words. They simply have too much meaning.

My relationship with Merdine T. Morris is such a reality. She was one of the most significant people in my life outside of my family. She helped make me who I am today – at least any part of me that is good and kind and faithful. I take full responsibility for my failings and shortcomings.

While I have been gone from Cleveland for almost 14 years, while the times that Merdine T. and I saw each other on a regular basis occurred long ago, while her health has declined and I knew this moment was coming, while I am a great believer in the Communion of Saints, I have to confess my heart bears a ragged hole this evening. I miss Merdine T. immensely. And I probably always will.

Merdine T. and I were friends for more than 20 years. Friend really does not do our relationship justice, she is my mentor, teacher, challenger, comforter, disturber of my peace, guide, anchor . . . the list goes on. She and her husband Luke played  and will play significant roles in my life. Luke passed away some 12 years ago, not too long after I left Cleveland.

Merdine T. and I have shared some amazing moments . . . conversations . . . experiences . . . times of learning and growth . . . disappointments . . . violations . . . injustices . . . ordinations . . . presbytery meetings (incredible to say, I know) . . . graduations . . . transitions . . . acts of justice . . . moments of witness.

If you want to hear some amazing stories about a child of grace and a faithful follower of Jesus, buy me a Jameson and ask me about Merdine T. some time.

Merdine T.’s health began to fail some years back. As she became increasingly fragile, I began to wonder each time I saw her if that time would be the last time.

And finally it was.

IMG_3763This past December, our mutual friend Nan Dorer celebrated her 90th birthday today with a party at Noble Road Presbyterian Church. Tricia and I took Merdine T. to the party.

The day was wonderful. Friends old and young, long-time and new, greeted Merdine T. warmly. Her presence meant the world to Nan. We stayed for the children’s program and carol singing. Merdine T. beamed. When we returned to the Fairmount Health Center, staff members commented on the joy that filled her face. A wonderful day.

In her room, as Tricia and I were leaving, Merdine T. reached up from her chair and hugged me. Tears filled her eyes.  And she said the words. The words she said to me every time we said goodbye over the past five or six years.

“Mark. Never forget me.”

Tonight, through my tears, I reply as I always did.

“Never, Merdine T. Never.”

As I grieve my loss, I give thanks that I had the privilege of sharing life with God’s beloved child, Merdine T. Morris.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Cleveland Heights, Friends

Facebook moments

Facebook moments.
The photo of a friend’s new baby.
The announcement of a new job.
The good news of a test passed.
The realization of shared values.
Bring a smile.

Facebook moments.
The departed family member.
The deceased friend.
Present in the Spirit.
Present in cyberspace.
Tug heartstrings.

Facebook moments.
Echoes through the past.
Reminders of what was.
Stabs of longing lost.
Taunts of what will never be.
Challenge us to change.

With gratitude for Myra Hutchins
11 February 2014
Shire near the Hudson

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Life

In a world tattered and torn,
a world battered and worn;

In a world of sorrow and pain,
a world of horror and shame;

In a world where I weep for the evil we do,
a world where I grieve for what sisters and brothers endure;

In such a world,
I give thanks.

In this world,
I give thanks
for hope and faith
for love and grace.

In my world,
I give thanks
for tender mercies and boundless joy,
courage unexpected and strength unforeseen.

In our world,
I give thanks
for a baby’s first cry
and a parent’s first smile.

I give thanks
for life.

23 January 2014
New York, New York

For
Joann, Mike, and Austin
Roja, Joel, and their newborn daughter whose name I will list as soon as they tell me
And all new parents and babies

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