Yesterday, I read the prayers of the faithful in a funeral. Mostly, I looked at the prayer as I read, but occasionally I looked up at the pews. The church was full of people who loved my friend: fellow faculty members who had appreciated her charm and humor, neighbors who couldn't help but be sucked into her warmth, students who she had protected, loved, and teased.
Of course, the room was also full of her family. One daughter gave a eulogy so wonderful and rich with my friend's essence, I marveled at her composure. Her daughter told us that her mother knew all the life stories of the employees and regular customers at the McDonalds where my friend stopped for her ridiculously large daily Diet Coke. She reminded us of my friend's deep and abiding fandom for the Cleveland Browns. She wasn't from Cleveland or even Ohio, but she was always on the side of the underdog. The Browns's one win this year was the day she was discharged from the hospital.
She was tiny and mighty with love. Life, as we know, is no competition, but if it were, she'd win in the hugeness of heart award. I already miss her.
Another friend, X, who similarly embraces the world with an octopus love, gave me a copy of this poem in the autumn because she knew it was a poem written for me. I have it on my bulletin board in my office at work.
A big horse heart, we can't set a better goal for ourselves.
"How to Triumph Like A Girl"
Bright, Dead Things
I like the lady horses best,
how they make it all look easy,
like running 40 miles per hour
is as fun as taking a nap, or grass.
I like their lady horse swagger,
after winning. Ears up, girls, ears up!
But mainly, let's be honest, I like
that they're ladies. As if this big
dangerous animal is also a part of me,
that somewhere inside the delicate
skin of my body, there pumps
an 8-pound female horse heart,
giant with power, heavy with blood.
Don't you want to believe it?
Don't you want to lift my shirt and see
the huge beating genius machine
that thinks, no, it knows,
it's going to come in first.