Friday, February 19, 2010

Dear Maura,

Nine months. Last couple of days have been a roller-coaster. I spent two days up at SHSU for a conference. Driving up there, I felt my heart beat faster, I started crying, and had, well, sort of a panic attack, I guess. Just a little one. I didn't have to pull over, although I probably should have, now that I think about it.
After I arrived at Sam, and as soon as I had time, I walked to the Music Building to find your diploma, which I'd been told was hanging on a wall. Just walking through the halls brought so much emotion to the surface, knowing you had walked there, sung there, studied there, had laughed and played hide-and-seek there and had such a fun time at your home away from home.
My friend and I wandered through the hallways, looking. I stopped a couple of people that looked like they might know. They didn't. I spoke to Mr. Michel. He didn't recognize me at first. Why should he? But he took me to find Dr. Hightower, who immediately invited us in to listen to the Chorale as they rehearsed. Oh my gosh--such beautiful music! Dr. H is still as fun to watch as ever! Did you know that they sang for you at TMEA last week? Yes, they dedicated their concert to you, and Mrs. Eaton spoke about you during her introduction of the Sam Chorale. You are still missed. You have inspired many. Anyway, at the Chorale rehearsal I saw several of your friends. Isn't it funny that most of your girl friends have graduated but a lot of your guy friends have not?
I thought I'd also say Hello and Thank you to Dr. Bankhead, but I chickened out. Besides, I had to get back to the conference.
At my next break, I headed to the Registrar's Office--the actual location of the memorial,as it turns out, not the Music Building. On the third floor, someone asked if she could help me. "Yes," I answered, trying desperately, if unsuccessfully, to look normal and nonchalant, "I'm looking for a memorial to a former student. I heard that it was located here." She pointed to the wall on my right. There it was. A shadow box with a copy of your diploma, an honor cord, a graduation tassel, some identifying papers, and a beautiful picture of you in your black and flowered sundress on a swing at the park. I could no longer hold the tears back, and I only vaguely cared that I was in full view of a slew of employees in the Registrar's Office. I heard whispering. Then, one kind woman came up to me. She spoke well of you, even though she had not met you, I think. She spoke of the day the entire office took turns watching your graduation video. She told me they were all moved to tears...and she was crying, too, as she told me the story.
Kevin had dinner with me at Fat Boys. The food was delicious but I could feel my arteries clogging after eating that hamburger! He is such a neat kid. I mean, he's not a kid, I know. If I said he was a "nice young man," it would be true, but you'd laugh at me and say I sounded old.
This morning, back at the conference, one of the presenters was the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. I remembered that Nicole had talked about him during that whirlwind day of graduation planning. As he exited toward the elevator, I caught up with him to meet him and thank him for the role he played in bringing the graduation at the hospital to fruition. I didn't have to finish my sentence. He took one look at my name tag and figured out who I was. He said wonderful things about you, and about how you were light and inspiration to so many, and he told me twice how glad he was to meet me. I feel like he meant it. And I was glad to have the chance to thank him.
So I raced home after the conference because Daddy and I went to close on the apartment. I placed a picture of you on the apartment refrigerator this evening. It's the only thing in the apartment right now. The refrigerator magnet I used is one that Marcy brought me from Jerusalem. It's a sculpture of the Western Wall (the Wailing Wall). The day that you died, Marcy placed a prayer for you in the Western Wall. She didn't find out until later that night that you had died.
Miss you so much, sweet baby girl.


traci said...

Hi, my name is Traci Partin, I am glad you got to see the shadow box in the Registrar's Office but I am sorry I didn't get to meet you...I am a student worker in the office and I am the one who made the box. I never met Maura but her life and story just touched me so that I had to make a memorial in her honor. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to come see it...I just wanted you to know that it was there and that people will remember your daughter...I know that I will.

Sue G said...

Every story you ever write about Maura or to Maura always makes me richer just for reading it. I picture her as a bright light, not the kind of light that makes you turn away or shield your eyes...but, the kind of light that is so magical and so warm that it makes a person just want to bask in it, like a kitten cuddled and safe in a stream of soft, gentle warmth.

It seems apparent that even death could not lessen that light, that glow, that love.

She sounds like a fine young woman. :-)

Dr LaPrairie said...

I thought you might like to know that Maura touched many of us in the College of Education at SHSU also. Even though I did not have the pleasure of meeting Maura in person, I too was moved to tears by her story. I remember receiving her graduation video in an email just a few days after it was recorded. Her story was the buzz of our office that week. Many of us continued to follow her through your blog, prayed for all of you, and grieved for the earthly loss of Maura. She touched us all!

Lydia Medeiros said...

i miss her so much mom. next time we're in Houston, can we go see the shadow box?

Melissa said...

I am a voice major at Sam. I only met Maura a couple times, but those couple times she showed to me what a wonderful person she was. She had the most beautiful smile.

I know that I cannot know the grief you have been through, as I have never lost a child. However, I am a mother and a wife...and my worst fear is loosing my son or my husband. My mother always told me that the worst pain one can know is the loss of a child. I am sorry that you have felt that loss. I think you are strong - even in your grief. Even if it is just one day at a time... that is strength. I have no words to comfort, only that I wish that it wasn't so.. and that I am sorry for you and your family's loss.
I do not know you personally, but regardless... I wish I could give you a hug.