Friend, you are gone

Weekly we’d meet

For most of five years

Once, even twice, or trice

And yet I don’t have a memory of us

Etched in print

Captured as just the two of us

For we were varied

Both unique beautiful flowers

Among a diverse bouquet

We often were on other ends of a spectrum

Yet united by our shared love and passion

Together we’d pray

Together we’d seek

Together we’d fight

For what was good and right

Two extroverts on opposite sides

Of the same community

I took you for granted

Until for a time I watched you

Noticing you were a teacher

I began to consider how to release you

But even when that season paused

When we found ourselves contradicting

I knew you loved me

Because you called me out

You made things real

Which was refreshingly fresh

Even when we’d walk away

Believing in different ways

We’d share our joy in pastries

You’d bring me raspberry shortbread hearts

And I’d bring you the seasonal Kringle

You pushed my buttons

Unintentionally triggering me

Which pushed me to grow

Iron scrubbing off my rust

Respect was always fastened between us

How could it not be?

I valued you!

It wasn’t even until recently

We pushed past our awkward talks

And connected–of all things–as writers!

Then there was the goodness that you brought

That I want to honor most of all

More than once

I found you wearing Black

I thought backing me up

But it was really the freedom cause

For you knew how to love people genuinely

You’d give them hope

As they sat in the backseat of your car

You didn’t back down

From opening your home

You had a gift!

You’d guide girls into womenhood

You served those in recovery

The sick you spent years with,

Nursing back to health

You’d lead those formerly unwanted,

Rejected for extreme disabilities

To find joy in exploration

You dedicated hours everyday

To help ordinary people believe

How deeply they are loved.

I had nothing to do with it,

With who you are or what you did

And yet I feel proud to call you friend

Your shortened life

Was more lived more fully

Than most who lived twice your years

You modeled the “story life”

Responsible and ordinary

But world-changing

And community-shaking

Through your bold and brave!

We might have clashed somedays

Often walking in each others periphery

And yet we spent so much time together

Consistently pursuing what mattered

I keep expecting you’ll walk in And when you don’t

Our collective chest squeezes

Numb, angry and breaking–it goes all ways

It feels too close recall the shared ICU bed

But I wonder if the songs

Brought you comfort in the end

As you faded away

When I lived

It’s a lack of rhyme

For frustrated reasons

And yet we grieve your loss

For while you find rest

You’ve left a void

No one but you can fill

Leah, we miss you

And look forward to Resurrection

(In honor and grief for Leah Flores )