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Katie’s Musings: Deirdre
March 22 2017
Last night, my seminary pal, Deirdre, was placed in hospice care.
On one hand, it wasn’t a total surprise. Postpartum cardiomyopathy, a rare condition affecting
women who have recently given birth – from what I understand, a sudden massive heart attack
in an otherwise healthy person – ain’t no joke. Though she was revived by the EMTs who
arrived on the scene, there was oxygen loss to the brain. We who know her have been hoping
waiting for a massive miracle but bracing ourselves for the worst.
On the other hand, the bigger hand, the more human hand, the hand that has hugged and
laughed and joked with her and her 3 small children, the hand that used to belong to the CTS
event photographer and has therefore taken innumerable of pictures of her participating in
chapel and dancing joyfully at a variety of celebrations and doing radically awesome work for
justice and equity … that hand is stunned and stinging.
When news of her prognosis reached me, I went searching for a picture I remembered taking of
Deirdre during Wednesday noon chapel. She had this way of always finding the good light to sit
or stand in during chapel – it became a joke between us, because according to her, it came from
being a frequently-photographed child. I always sent her the good ones I got, particularly if it
involved her kids. Mothers so rarely have good pictures of themselves with their children
because they’re usually behind the camera.
The picture in question was of her sitting in the back of the chapel in profile, bathed in backlight
from the bank of windows that make up the rear of the chapel. Her chin is lifted, her knees
drawn to her chest and her locs cascading down her back. It’s only one of many images I have
of Deirdre. A multitude of Deirdres: Deirdre holding her 2 older boys close to her during a
prayer in chapel, Deirdre laughing with friends in the hallway, Deirdre passionately reading a
text in chapel, Deirdre dancing wildly with another classmate to the tune of “Tainted Love” on the
first night of our new student orientation. Beautiful, classic, relentless-in-being-alive-and-loving
It’s not right. It’s certainly not fair. To quote Deirdre’s own words to me when news of my
father’s arrival in hospice care reached her and the rest my CTS family: “This is bullshit and I
I truly apologize if you find such language offensive. But if there is anything at all I have learned
from Deirdre during our time together at CTS and beyond, it is that fierce love of humans, your
own humans and beyond… that love is rarely polite. At least, it’s not if you’re doing it right. It’s
bold and it’s messy and it’s relentless and it might lose you some “friends” who don’t see the
world in the same infinite shades-of-existence as you do, but it is most certainly entirely holy.
Love isn’t always patient and it isn’t always kind. It’s immediate. It’s extravagant. It’s dancing
to Soft Cell music and holding people fiercely close to you and looking injustice squarely in the
face and saying, “not today.” It’s throwing away the rose-colored glasses when looking at the
world around you, instead choosing lenses that sharpen the image for what it is … and then
daring to care about it and fight for it anyway. It’s a legacy that lasts long after we depart this
existence and move into whatever comes next, imprinting the world with a unique pattern that
cannot actually ever diminish. That’s love.
A multitude of Deirdres