A Weekend of Goodbyes

I left work early yesterday which isn’t that unusual for me on a Friday as we are usually heading off to go camping. But this was the weekend of goodbyes, so yesterday I headed to Reagan National Airport to pick up my friend Kirtley, who like many of my friends is an Episcopal priest. He was in town to participate in a funeral this morning of another priest, the Rev. Richard Cornish Martin, one of Kirtley’s closest friends. We grabbed some lunch and caught up, realizing that it had been almost two years since we saw each other last.


The original plan was that I’d take Kirtley to his hotel after lunch, but he asked instead of I could take him to see another priest first. I immediately said yes, because I knew it would be a very hard visit for him given that the priest he’d be visiting is dying of cancer. Kirtley had been told that he could visit precisely at 1pm. I sat on the steps of the church as Kirtley went to the rectory for his visit. I prayed that Kirtley’s friend would be awake and alert enough for the two great friends to share a few words. Thankfully they were able to do that. As we headed back to my car, I comforted my distraught friend as best I could. It doesn’t matter if you’re a priest or laity, it hurts like hell when you’re losing or have lost someone you love. 

As Tim and I headed to St. Mark’s today for Suella’s funeral, I thought of Kirtley who was saying goodbye to his friend at the same time. Suella’s service was as glorious as I knew it would be. The choir she’d sung with for many years sang their hearts out for her. There was almost two hours of sung and spoken tributes to this amazingly spiritual woman, the most emotional of which were given by her son and daughter in a shared tribute to their mom. Suella would have been so proud seeing her kids share the pulpit in honor of her. The several hundred of us who packed the church all shed tears. 

The hardest part for me was watching the committal of her ashes into the columbarium in the chapel where she spent countless hours performing her laying on of hands ministry. It was exhausting but I wouldn’t have missed it for anything!! 

Here’s what was confirmed for me today… Everyone in that church today loved Suella, and the way in which she connected with people let all of us know she loved us too. Please let all the people in your life know that you love them as often as you can, because you never know when you’re seeing someone for the very last time. We all thought Suella would be with us for years to come, but it wasn’t meant to be. If you’re reading this blog you’re someone near and dear to me, so please know that I love you. 


14 thoughts on “A Weekend of Goodbyes

  1. I love you, too, Loretta. I thank you for writing so eloquently about love and loss, life and death. With gratitude, Paul

  2. You’re welcome!! I always feel better when I write on a tough day. Was proud though as it was packed liked Easter Sunday, which Suella deserved. I love you and the fact that you’re such a big part of my life. Yep, the Abernathys and the Veneys, til we all die.

  3. Wow! Mrs V. This Soo hit home for. As you know I lost my BEST childhood friend 4th of July weekend. Thank you for your kind words on my FB page. I’m glad you were there for your friend. You are absolutely right. Take the time. We buried my dear friend Reggie yesterday. It was a day that is forever in my memory. I will never forget him. Reading your post as alwayssss I find comfort and direction. God bless you Mrs V.

    • Thanks Smalls!! I felt so bad when I read your post!!! Amazing how we both said goodbye to dear friends on the same day!! I’m beyond thrilled that you find comfort in my words!!! You are a very important person in my life!!! Love and blessings to you too my friend!!

  4. I can’t imagine how hard this has been for you. It is clear that she has left indelible marks on everyone’s life and in that way, I know her love will continue through each of you. I Love You Too and I know I speak the same for Herb and Kendal

    • Thanks Kim!!! We will always remember Suella! Amen for family love!! Without it, and great memories, life can be even harder. Love you, Herb and Kendal too!!

  5. I love you Loretta! Nia probably has not told you, but I have ameloidosis and multiple myeloma. Both are attributed to exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. I’m being treated at VA Hospital in DC and now I’m having chemo every two weeks instead of weekly. The doctors say my numbers look good. They’re recommending that get a bone marrow transplant, and I will be my own donor of stem cells. But I plan to check with Hopkins to see what alternatives they might have for me. I’m trying to hang around for a while because I don’t want Nia to lose both her parents too soon.

  6. Love you too Bruce, Thanks!!!!! YES I am aware of your condition, and I pray for you daily. YES please do “hang around” Nia and your beloved grandkids truly need you!

  7. I had a dream a few weeks ago where I lived to the age of 96. That’s 28 more years!!! If that’s true, I’ll see both grandkids become of age.

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