You have not gone far from my mind since I knew you'd left this world behind to join with God in the next one. You are with me in my car, at the store, sitting at my desk and in my dreams.
I have known you for 25 years, ever since I came home from Oklahoma to start over again. I'd heard about you before I came home though. My parents often wrote of you in their letters to me, and a little jealous spark existed because you seemed to have moved into my family "spot" in my absence. That spark disappeared as soon as I met you - I knew exactly why they loved you. You were fun and bright and your personality just fit in so well with my family. It felt like they'd gone out and FOUND me a sister (goodness knows, after 6 boys they quite trying to produce one for me).
Over the years, we had varying degrees of closeness. Sometimes very, sometimes not so much... life gets busy sometimes, but we were always friends.
I was your maid of honor when you got married. You looked just beautiful in your wedding gown! I was sorry that, as it turned out, it was not a good match, but overjoyed when it produced your beautiful daughter!
Do you remember... We lived over by the stadium and you used to let us babysit when you had your community chorus events? We loved having Cecelia. You'd bring her over after work. Sometimes we'd have dinner if she hadn't eaten yet, play a little, read a story and she would go to sleep under the Christmas lights we had strung around our bedroom. It was always so sweet to see her sleepy curls bobbing on your shoulder as you carried her out to the car after coming to collect her.
I'd say that there were three things in your life that you absolutely loved: Cecelia, music and your church.
Cecelia is obvious - your daughter was the light of your life. You poured everything you had into raising her to be the beautiful, strong and amazing woman she is today. I am so impressed with her and I know you were too. In fact, there were times when you couldn't believe that she was a part of you. She is though. You gave her all the most wonderful attributes you possessed.
You loved music all your life. I think you got that from your mama. You played and taught piano to my youngest brother James AND you tried to teach my own son. He was quite enthusiastic at first, but in the end decided that the piano was not really the instrument for him. You and I both were sad about that because we thought he had a gift for it. I loved your voice. Recently, when I was painting your apartment, you were organizing your music cabinet and singing arias and hymns while you worked. I was mesmerized and thrilled. It was the best painting music I'd ever worked to. That day felt so special to me and I still think about you singing in the living room while I painted the dining room. You also played the French horn (which I found quite impressive - horns seem so difficult to me) and I truly enjoyed going to the concert you played in out at TCC.
And then there's church. My parents met you when you started going to Advent as a young FSU student. I don't remember exactly when it happened, but you moved over to St. John's and found a church home that included amazing music. Two things you loved in one place! I've been to several Evensong services there because you were in the choir and I enjoyed just closing my eyes and listening to you making beautiful music with the rest of your choir. I know you felt at home at St. John's and you were so excited about going to Oxford, England next summer to be the choir-in-residence there. Somehow, I think you'll still find a way to be there.
I know you probably never thought that one person could make such a difference to so many people - but you did. Driving in my car this morning, one word kept popping into my head when I was thinking about you. If you were here now and I told you, you would blush, then laugh, then kind of wave it away because you wouldn't think that this word applied to you at all. The word is FIERCE. You may have been the quintessential lady, fond of romance novels, floral prints, hats, Desert Rose china and tea parties - but you. were. fierce. Fiercely loyal. You defended people's rights in love, politics and insurance fiercely. You had a strong sense of right and wrong and would fiercely argue when you felt the need. You were fiercely generous, giving as much of yourself as you could to those you loved - and you loved fiercely too. My mom thinks you were intense, but in my mind, you are fierce.
You have been such a friend, such a force in my life that it's hard to say goodbye. I am comforted in knowing that when you left, you left all your worries, all your stress, and all your pain behind and took with you only love. The love of your daughter, of your mother, and all the other people, including me, who loved you. Go sing with the angels, Alison. God is listening and He is pleased.