Wednesday, November 25, 2009


We intended to avoid Thanksgiving this year, although it is one of our favorite holidays, hoping to delay the traditional celebrations until next year when, perhaps, we will be stronger. And, although Joel and I will not cook turkey and all the fixins' nor watch football nor even be in this country on Thanksgiving, we cannot help but think of the meaning of this day. Lydia shared Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving proclamation of October 1963. It is worth reading and re-reading. And, mind you, this was written in the middle of the Civil War--not exactly a happy time for folks back then.
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the
blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are
so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they
come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they
cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to
the everwatchful providence of almighty God.In the midst of a civil war of
unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states
to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all
nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and
harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict;
while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and
navies of the Union.Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields
of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the
shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and
the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even
more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased,
notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the
battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented
strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large
increase of freedom.No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand
worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God,
who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered
mercy.It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly,
reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the
whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part
of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning
in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as
a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the
heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly
due to him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with
humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his
tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in
the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently
implore the interposition of the almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation,
and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the
full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.In testimony whereof,
I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United Stated States to

I had intended to steal Sue's idea and count the blessings I wish for others rather than my own this year. Yet, I find that I truly am thankful for so much that I want to at least start enumerating what I am most thankful for, even though I'll never write a complete list.
I am thankful for having Maura for 22, almost 23 years. I am thankful for Joel's kindheartedness, for Danielle's sensitivity, and for Lydia's fierce loyalty. I am thankful for a son-in-law who seems quite willing to accept the faults of his new family and love us regardless. I am thankful for Maura's many friends who have allowed us to be a part of their lives, and for the legions who were touched by Maura and form her living legacy. I am thankful for a job that fulfills me in so many ways, allowing me to use my strengths to help others. I'm really the one who is helped--the job forces me to take my eyes off myself and my own sorrow and focus on the needs of students, and in that there is healing. I am thankful for my brothers and my sister--those are priceless relationships, even when untended. I am thankful for the many friends who have let me know in so many ways that they care. I am thankful that God has given me hope amidst the sorrow. I am thankful for the atoning work of Jesus Christ. I am thankful that I can feel thankful, even if just some of the time.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Allison Davis walked onto the platform to receive her diploma for the B.A. in Music at SHSU in May, 2009--the same graduation ceremony in which Maura would have participated had she not already grown too weak to attend. Later, in her blog, Allison wrote about the her new life as a music teacher, as a "grown up", and her outward and inward struggles and triumphs. Here is Allison's voice, from a summer post to her blog:

I'm trying to see how God has a hand in things even when I can't see
how a situation is going to work out or the purpose of it. One thing that
really has been a struggle for me was Maura's death. For anyone reading this
that doesn't know who Maura is, she was a voice major at Sam. We were
friends, but not super close or anything. A year ago she was diagnosed with
cancer and fought a long, hard battle, finally passing away this past May
Maura was one of the bubbliest, most beautiful, most kind people I've ever met.
And she had this awesome faith. Like I said, we weren't all that close, but I was really affected by her whole situation. Why would God allow that to happen to someone so young, with so much potential? How could He take her away from her friends and her family? How was that FAIR? How does that show God's love? I'm
still struggling over that. It's just so hard to understand the whole situation.
And I know things like that happen every day. But I don't think I've ever actually known someone my age that died. Even now, I'll think of her and the frustration almost chokes me. I don't know why her situation has become such a fixation for me. And I don't feel like I can really talk about it because there are people I'm around who were very close to her and who are probably way more frustrated than I am. I'm just seeking a purpose in this life. And a reason why things happen.

On November 16, 2009, just three days shy of the six-month milestone of Maura's death, Allison died in a car crash. So young. Others, many who were friends with both Maura and Allison, are having the same thoughts that Allison had, having experienced a double-whammy of loss.

The picture below is currently the facebook profile picture of one of Maura's very best friends, Kara, and was taken at a Halloween party last year. What a difference a year can make. The girl in the middle is Kara. On one side, Maura. On the other, Allison. How eerie to see yourself as the lone survivor of a snapshot taken barely one year ago.
My heart goes out to Allison's family, especially her siblings, her parents, and her fiancee. I have some idea what they are going through.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Six months since Maura died. 
I had decided last week that I did not want us to be alone today, so I invited people over to the house via facebook. More showed up than I expected, especially given the other events scheduled at the same time. Others wrote cards or sent notes or emailed. The evening went well. We just talked and ate. The conversation naturally gravitated toward Maura for awhile. We were able to share our Dynamo story. 
     And there was more sadness this week, especially for Maura's friends: another May graduate of the SHSU School of Music died this week in a car crash. She had come to Maura's funeral.She had just started a career as a music teacher. Many of Maura's friends were at her wake tonight.
   And another death earlier today--gifted writer named Kevin Foley died from sarcoma tonight. He has blogged about his life, his cancer, his family, world politics, and just about everything for a couple of years. You can read Card Blue for yourself. I feel as though I have lost a friend, although I never met him.
     I love Maura, and I miss her very much,

Sunday, November 15, 2009


     I'm having a harder time pulling it together at work. Last Monday, someone tried to tell me of a mistake I had made, and I looked at her blankly because i just wasn't understanding what she was trying to tell me. I felt...vacant. And stupid.
     I'm having a harder time pulling it together other places,too. On Friday, we went to a pub downtown to watch the Dynamo vs. L.A. Galaxy playoff match in Los Angeles. It was crowded. I felt uncomfortable, out of my element. Oh, no. I realized that this was a place Maura had described to me, a place she and Katie had been to. Maura loved having fun. Who doesn't? But Maura was so good at it. She could brighten everyone's day and make us all have fun. Sob, sob. Except now. I really just wanted to go home.
     Things got a bit better after the game started. But it was a weird game. The ref made some bad calls. The lights went out in the stadium in Carson, CA and the game was stopped twice for a total of 30 or 40 minutes.
     At half-time, the Dynamo representatives that were at the pub announced the winners of the silent auction items, proceeds of which were going to the Dynamo Charities. Then he announced a Live Auction for a Dynamo Party Pack, "which includes, among other things, two Dynamo players that come to your event to sign autographs, and a Dynamo Moon Bounce." What? What did he say? A moon bounce? A Dynamo moon bounce? "And we will start the bidding at $100." And I thought of the blog I wrote just a day or two before Maura went into the hospital for the last time, when we were planning her graduation party, and I announced that we would have a moon bounce, at Maura's request. Maura really wanted a party with a moon bounce. She never got it. Instead, the tumors grew, her kidneys failed, and she died. 
     Joel, I said, let's bid on the Dynamo Party Pack. "Who will start the bidding at $100? Yes, the woman with the Dynamo scarf." And I realized I was standing up, with my hand held high, wearing my Dynamo scarf,  "Who will bid $150?" And Joel said, What are we bidding on? It's a Dynamo Party Pack, I replied, and the players come to the party and there will be a Dynamo moon bounce. A what? You know, the jumpy jumpy thing that Maura wanted for her graduation party. "Who will bid $150? 150? Yes, I've got $150. who will give me $200 to have two Dynamo players come to your event...?" One more time, Nikki and Danielle were both prodding me. No, it's too expensive. And Joel, still confused, What are we getting? It's for Maura, I said. A party for Maura. Can we go again? Joel raised his hand. "Yes, $200. Who will give me $275?" Oh my gosh.  A minute later, they came to our side, took our credit card, got our information, and, for $200, we became the proud owners of a Dynamo Party Pack, which includes, among other things, two Dynamo players that come to our event to sign autographs, and a Dynamo moon bounce! 
     I cried. Duh.
     So now we are working on a plan. We've decided that we will use the Dynamo Party Pack in a fundraiser for one or both of Maura's funds---Sarcoma Research at M.D. Anderson and/or the music scholarship endowment fund in her name at SHSU. Kind of exciting!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ubi Caritas...

This video is from Maura's memorial service. I hadn't watched it in a long while and was again impressed with the sheer number of friends, many of them graduated and living out of state, who came to sing for her. They rehearsed for less than an hour together. The pastor commented that it was the best music ever sung in the church. Such a beautiful piece of music. Maura selected it herself.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

When David Heard by Eric Whitacre Part 1

I remember hearing Maura's chorale sing this piece a couple of years ago. At the time, I was very moved, especially with Matt's countertenor solo (as good as the soloist on this video is, Matt's performance was brilliant, haunting, sorrowful, memorable). I wish I had the SHSU version to put up here instead. David's cries, sobs, wails, and moans were so artfully made into music, and I remember thinking--and feeling--how incredibly painful losing a child would be. Many times after Maura became ill, I would hear Matt's solo in my head, "O, Absalom"

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I'm listening to Rutter's Requiem on the radio right now. So many memories of Maura and this hauntingly beautiful piece of music.