I’ve been ruminating the past few days, over friends and family members. Some who are still here on earth, and others – too many for my liking – who have passed on.
Today this is about Jean.
Jean’s funeral was last week. I drove in to Fisk Chapel from Franklin, where I was shepherding my grandkids while their parents were away.
I parked and went into the beautiful little chapel at Fisk University. I hugged a dear friend in the vestibule, and signed the guest book.
I found my seat, and held the silence for a moment. Then I looked up to the front, and realized the casket was open. Jean was lying there. Not Jean. The body Jean inhabited during her time on earth. I lowered my eyes, and the tears came as memories of our times together flooded my mind.
A few years back, Jean and “Sheila the Wonder Dog” lived with me. We’d been talking on the phone, and she casually mentioned that she had no place to live. I stopped her:
“What?! Yes you do. Come live with me.” And she did. They did. For about six months or so, Jean and Sheila were here in my house. Slept in the guest room. Cooked, ate, did laundry, took showers … those were some of the best “friend-and-roommate” months of my life.
Robert Wynn had introduced us, back during the days when I was studying under Ruth Sweet.
“Celia, dahling, you and Jean are sisters. You just don’t know it yet!” Robert was right.
From moment one, we were sisters. Spiritual, musical, comical, creative, philosophical sisters.
Lord, how we laughed.
The last time I saw Jean, it was at S.I.R. She was staging a listening party for an artist from Texas. She’d called me to see if I could watch the door, welcome the attendees. I said yes. I always said yes to Jean.
When I got news of her passing, I cried. I didn’t shed one tear when my mother died. But I cried over Jean. I still have moments when I tear up. Her absence is felt as profoundly as her presence was, maybe more so. Because that hole is huge. She was a light. An encourager. Jean was one of the few in my life who poured into me the truth of who I am, and what my talents are.
She believed in me, and it always humbled me that she did. Because in my life there was too much time, and there were too many people, who did not. People who claimed to love me and who declared me untalented, marginally smart, and more trouble than I’m worth.
Jean saw me. She “got” me. And God knows, I loved her for that.
Life goes on, Jean is now at peace, and I’m still here on this planet waiting for my number to be called.
Until then, I’ll strive to remember what Jean saw in me, and to live each day with all of it exposed to the world. That’s the best thing I can do, for both of us.
Love you, Jeannie. See you when I get there.