Good Night, Sweet Judy


Judy Birdsong

Maybe at last being but a broken man

I must be satisfied with my heart . . .

WB Yeats “The Circus Animal’s Desertion”


Since my wife Judy Birdsong’s death last Sunday, I have been unable to write anything but clichés. Courageous battle. Unending love. Flights of angels.

Fortunately, my friend Aaron Lipka was able to express what I am feeling in an email he sent to my friends and colleagues at the school where I teach. I’d like to present it as a prelude to the slideshow I made for the funeral home visitation.

I can’t express in strong enough terms the gratitude for all of you who have sent love, thoughts, prayers, solace. Now that my Judy’s gone, I don’t have a guide to steer me within the bounds of good taste, so please bear with me when I stray, which I’m sure I will.  As they say, the past is prologue.

Here’s Aaron’s message:

One and all,

I have been thinking about what to say in this email.  Sometimes, words are not what we need, and electronic consolation can seem cold and impersonal. Whatever I can say here today will risk falling sadly short of what is useful or necessary.

And yet words are all I have to give.

Death is sad, and scary.  In the face of loss, I have listened to our school community reach out with compassion to Wesley, and I have heard others tell of the benevolent and graceful individual whom we knew as Judy Birdsong.  The cumulative message I have received this week, however, is neither sad, not scary at all.

It has been a celebration of a life lived, full of love.  It is a story that has refused to be marred in the face of hardship or sorrow.  In the sharing of the story of her life, I feel her presence with us.  Her memory is very much alive, and it is radiantly beautiful.

I consider myself fortunate to have known her, in my small way.  And I judge Wesley to be a lucky man; not for his loss, but for the many years he had to spend with Judy.  We should all hope to share such love in our lives.

I hope to see many of you at Chico Feo on Folly Beach this afternoon, 4 pm, and together lift a glass to commemorate the life and love of Judy Birdsong.  In our shared words, she will be among us.

Penitus ex animo,



11 thoughts on “Good Night, Sweet Judy

  1. Super Fabulous Wonderful tribute. Slide show couldn’t be more perfect. Wish I had had more time to spend with both of you and Judy in Folly. Your friend Aaron is right….words can’t and won’t adequately express how I feel… and Taryn said what I said personally to her was ‘too sentimental’ and might upset others. However, I am thinking of you all and a future of love and time spent with each other.

  2. Wesley,
    Judy is probably the most graceful and kind person I’ve ever met. I’m thinking of you down here in New Orleans.

  3. Judy was a class act as far back as I can remember through high school and drill team… loved hanging out at her house … always wanted to visit her on the island . Lost two friends to cancer this month … and have shared a scare of my own …. here’s to continuing to win those battles … ❤️❤️❤️💐💐💐

  4. Thank you, Helen. Judy often mentioned the drill team, and I treasure a photo of her in her uniform beaming that 100 watt smile of hers. All the best, Wesley.

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