This week I celebrate two years as a full on Orthodox Christian. I also celebrate the feast of my namesake, Theodora of Vasta on September 11th. I had intended to spend some time in a rambling tumble of words about remembering and about being named and then I got word that an old friend of mine was killed in a car crash.
And everything stopped.
All my worries from this past week, all my concerns about permission slips for school and deadlines for essays and book promotion and cleaning the dust that has accumulated on the windowsills just floated off somewhere. I had to get the boys to school still, so we waited at the bus stop and when they asked why I was crying I told them. I reminded them about the time my friend came over to help Henry with his reading. I told them how long I had known her, 20, 25 years? I had to do the math in my head. How she made Dave’s wedding ring for us when we got married. How much she meant to my sister, her best friend and roommate since college. And I cried until the bus came. And then I cried when it left and I drove home.
It had been a few months since I last saw her and yet the loss is tangible. I feel today as though I am still reaching out to grab her and pull her back. I need more time. I need more time to remember to tell her how much I always loved her, what a light she has always been. I need more time to finally buy her that drink I owe her. I need more time to give her one last hug. I am at a loss. We, the living are still grasping for her. This is our loss as we amble about on the planet still, wrapped in our bodies and our busyness and our complaints about the weather or our neighbor’s barking dog.
Since becoming Orthodox I’ve adopted some key phrases, most notably, to say in the event that someone loses a friend, a spouse, a love, anyone… “memory eternal.” And so I’ve been saying this and feeling sympathy in the process but it isn’t until just now, this moment, when I can feel the empty space that my friend used to occupy that I really fully understand. I put a reminder on my calendar to remember when I was chrismated. I put a reminder to remember my name’s day, the feast day of my patron, but today I am remembering my beautiful, vibrant friend Anne- school teacher, dog mama, metalsmith, artist, friend, sister and lover of life. We will miss you, life is less bright with your departure.