We have lost a shining light in our world.
This past weekend, one of the members of my quilt guild, Sue, passed away quite unexpectedly. She had been on our guild retreat but began to feel unwell; two of her friends had driven her home on Friday night and advised her husband to take her to the hospital where she was admitted for observation and testing. It was quite a shock to receive word that she had passed away late Saturday night. I'm glad my guild friends at retreat had each other for support and comfort in such a difficult time.
I just returned home from the calling hours at the funeral home (the funeral itself will be private). I went with three of my guild friends; when we arrived, the line was out the door and into the parking lot. There were several hundred people that wound their way through the funeral home and into the chapel to greet the family. I remarked to one of my friends that it went a long way to appease my sadness to see such an outpouring of love and the number of people whose lives Sue had touched in one way or another. Most of my guild were there, as well as members of several other quilt groups that Sue had been a part of. We talked about how none of us had even known how many things Sue had been involved in until people were running into each other at the funeral home and sharing stories of how they knew Sue.
Rather than a casket or urn in the funeral chapel, there was simply a display of a couple of her quilts and other handcrafts that Sue had made, with several professionally-done photos of her with her family. There was a small sign on the photos that said those photos had just been done the weekend before. What a treasure for the family to have.
As I'm writing this, I'm still trying to imagine our next guild meeting without Sue there. My head won't wrap around it. Next month's meeting will be hard in some ways, but in others it will give us the chance to have our own memorial, I suspect.
Sue had a wonderfully dry, often sarcastic sense of humor. She led us in the Hokey Pokey and other stretch breaks during retreats, and then would quietly sit at her machine, periodically cussing it out under her breath if it didn't cooperate. (Okay, sometimes not quite so much under her breath.) If I teased her, I could rely on her looking at me with a twinkle in her eye while she said, with feeling, "Bite me." Sue made me laugh.
She also had a tremendous heart. It was Sue who spearheaded our monthly donations to a local women's shelter and often led other charity projects for other sites. Whenever I made a donation quilt, I'd hand it directly over to Sue with confidence that it would go where most needed.
I will miss Sue's laugh, her caustic wit, her willingness to be silly, and her fervent cussing at her machine. And I will miss her drive to make the world a more soft and comfortable place for people during their time of need.
The next donation quilt I make, Sue, will be in your honor. Thanks for all you did for our guild. I count it a privilege that I had the opportunity to know you.