Saturday, December 05, 2009

Book of Revelation

She didn't show up for work, but I didn't think anything of it.

I was surprised that she wasn't there when I arrived because she usually beats me to the office, but I assumed she was traveling or working from home.

She was new, hired only a few weeks ago and though our desks were right next to each other's, I didn't know her very well yet.

When I learned she had been killed, one of our few conversations stood out.

She and I were talking about cooking and she said,

"My husband was raised to be a strong, black, southern woman, so you KNOW I eat well."

I remember wondering what she meant.

In my memory of the conversation, I imagine myself tilting my head to the side like a confused cocker spaniel.

That is when she told me that her husband was transgendered.

I remember taking the information in, processing it, understanding.

I remember feeling pleased that she told me this so casually, like she trusted me.

I also remember worrying about her, hoping she would find acceptance in our workplace but not being absolutely sure.

I wondered if people would talk about it when she wasn't around.

In the early afternoon of the day she didn't come in, I learned that she died in a car accident on her way to work.

A beige sedan crossed oncoming, two-way traffic and caused an eastbound Ford Explorer to cross into the westbound lane.

The beige sedan sped away from the scene unharmed, but the Ford Explorer hit my colleague's car head on and she died at the scene.

Her name was Errin.

A group of us went to her funeral service where many of her friends and former colleagues shared stories and memories.

Almost everyone talked about the way Errin loved.

Her love, they said, was wide open, enormous and plentiful.

They said that she defended the weak and fought for social justice and equality, not with violence and anger, but with the mighty power of her humor, compassion and heart.

One storyteller recalled a time when Errin substituted for her as a childcare worker.

When the storyteller returned to the daycare center late in the day, she found Errin talking with the other teachers about her husband and the fact that he was transgendered.

"Aren't you worried about what they might think?" the storyteller later asked Errin.

"Why would I be?" Errin replied with her signature laugh and gigantic smile. "I don't want to be in a relationship with anyone who doesn't accept the people I love."

I left Errin's service with a deep sense of loss.

I mourned not only her untimely death, but also my lost opportunity to know her well.

I also left with the understanding that when she told me about her husband, she wasn't taking me into her confidence.

I admired her all the more for that.

23 comments:

jess said...

Oh, how sad. She sounds like the kind of person the world needs more of. Hard to understand that kind of loss.

Joie said...

Ditto. Tears for her and you and her husband especially.

Glad to see you posting more here lately.

Magpie said...

Oh, heartbreaking. I'm so sorry.

Yo-yo Mama said...

A love like that...

It's both tragic and yet it will hopefully bring a comfort to her grieving family, to have been so graced by her presence.

Sayre said...

Sounds like the world lost an incredibly special person. I'm sorry you didn't have the chance to know her better.

Elisa, The Unlikely Housewife said...

I am so sorry to hear about your colleague. She sounds like someone truly special.

We should all live by that: don't be around anyone who can't accept you and the people you love.

Aimee Greeblemonkey said...

Amazing post for an amazing woman.

cryitout! said...

This is a beautiful elegy and a perfect lesson.

Gretchen said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing a bit of her story with us.

colorbox said...

beautifully written. Talking about the loss such a strong heart, scatters the strength and results in greater resolve in honoring such a spirit. This has been my experience....the assurance of continuation. It's the final gift of love, I think.

WILLIAM said...

You have such a great style of telling a story.

Gail said...

Thanks for posting this...Errin would have been honored.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written. Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts on Errin.

Ashley said...

Hi. I was one of the friends that spoke and I'm so touched by this. Errin was so open in that way which really allowed her to mean so much to others. I think she has inspired many to be more open with their love.
-Ashley

Merrily Down the Stream said...

I truly hope there is a special place in the universe for people like Errin and not just in our hearts.

Shannon said...

Beautiful post. I wish I could have met her....

Luigi | UPrinting.com said...

Sad, but Errin is very admirable. It's not easy to find a friend like her who would be tranparent enough to this world. Her life and character is very inspiring.

moosh in indy. said...

amazing how much you can still learn from a person even after they're gone.
lovely.

Joy said...

This is such a beautiful tribute to a woman who touched your life for such a very brief time - but touched it so profoundly. Beautiful post!

Jenn said...

Maybe she was taking you in, after all.

SUEB0B said...

So sad for her passing.

BOSSY said...

Oh, it just shakes you to the core, doesn't it?

susiej said...

What a loss indeed.