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,