Friday, November 04, 2005

visiting an old friend

Today I had the opportunity to stop by and visit with a friend I haven't seen in a few years. Her name is Claire Clay and she was murdered just over two years ago. I feel terrible that I haven't been able to visit her grave before now; but at least I finally was able to pay my respects.

Claire was horribly murdered at the age of 25. It's just so incredibly tragic. I don't know of many other people I've met in my life who were even a tenth as vibrant and full of life as Claire. She touched a lot of people's lives and was a teacher at the time of her death. It just makes me angry that she was taken from those kids. Everyone who met Claire was better off for it.

Take, for instance, my mom. My mom has had a dream for years of opening up a Performing Arts venue where local people can perform and showcase their talents in the suburban Philly area. It's a wonderfully generous dream and so in keeping with her giving nature that it's no wonder we call her "Mother to the World."

About ten years ago, Claire organized a performing arts cafe in our high school that would perform on Friday nights and gave all of the school's underground and underexposed talent a showcase to have a voice of their own. I can't express to you how much this meant to my mom. She'd always liked Claire, but here was this sign to her that she was doing the right thing. Claire was a huge source of inspiration to my mom. Even as I write this entry, Claire's framed picture hangs on my mom's wall in her office as a memorial and a reminder of her incredibly inspirational spirit.

Now, one thing my mom has been doing recently is organizing trips for Western dancers to travel to Poland for an international Dance festival. It's been progressing over the last two years and the ball is really starting to roll. Now, over the last two years, she has been trying to organize a University affiliation with a particular woman at a particular university here in Pennsylvania. She's been contacting her off and on for two years without much success.

Today, my mom and I visited Claire's grave. When we walked up, we both said our hellos and then my mom kissed her fingers and touched them to a picture of Claire that sits beside the grave. No sooner does she do this than her phone rings.

It was the woman she had been calling for two years with the news that it looks like my mom will get her university affiliation and a huge influx of students interested in the trip to Poland.

I'm not a religious guy. But ... I don't know. I would love to believe that Claire was looking out for my mom at that moment. My mom thanked Claire profusely after that and cried on my shoulder, telling me how happy she was that Claire was still helping her with her dreams. I got pretty choked up too at that moment.

When my mom wasn't looking, I turned around, thanked Claire and then - with a wink - flicked a booger onto the grave of the person across from her.

I think Claire would have liked me messing with her neighbors.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't know you, but it was nice to read this nice story. I taught with Claire out in West Philly and there aren't too many days that go by that I don't think of her.