Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Another Goodbye

I didn't know I still cared.  It's not like I left the church where she was choir director mad at her, it was another issue entirely.  Yet, when I left, there was some unfinished business.  It never sat quite right with me, but I also never tried to set things right.  Neither did she.

So when I heard last week that she was in the hospital with an infection, then that she had died on Good Friday, the depth of my tears surprised me.

She was a good teacher; she taught me how to cantor.  I remember when I first met her, at a workshop she led some twenty years ago.  Along with the technical aspects of singing and welcoming the congregation to sing with you, she asked, "Why do we gather as church?"  After gathering our answers, she offered her own view:  We come to share our stories.  The stories of Jesus and Moses, woven into the stories of our own lives.

I've come to believe she was right.

And so I gathered with a whole bunch of people yesterday at church.  My tears flowed freely as her nineteen year-old daughter spoke of what her mother meant to her.  I was sitting at an angle to her family - every time I looked across the church at young Christina, trying so hard to be brave and strong and to (unsuccessfully) stop her tears, I cried again.  For her and for myself in much the same place so many years ago.  Her story mingled with the readings, meshed with my own story, and I cried for her in the years to come, when her mother won't be there to guide her through the rough spots.

But her mother was a good woman.  She laid a strong foundation for Christina and her brother to build the rest of their lives upon, and they still have their dad.  He will be there for them and together, they will heal.

Beatrice Santner, rest in Peace.

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