Thursday, February 25, 2010

Going Back




It's funny how lives twist and turn and get tangled up into each other.

When I was four, my daddy built a church in Jackson
and I remember going to Sunday School there,
sitting in the tiny chairs,
putting together Jesus puzzles in the basement cinder block room
just for preschoolers.

I remember having a tantrum in the narthex,
the staggered stained glass windows built into wood paneling,
wrinkled, smiling faces,
the half-doors of the nursery.

Later we moved to Dearborn, and that's where I grew up.

I met Cyndi in the ninth grade.
My earliest memory is of
making homemade flip-books with her,
on the sly, behind our notebooks
in the back row of English-French.

Stick figures danced their way through conditional tenses
and Parisien architecture,
sometimes bordering on the burlesque,
but mostly dwelling on the silly,
entertaining two naughty girls
and passing the time.

Passing the time.

Many, many years later
I attend her funeral, back at that old Jackson church.

It's funny how things circle around.

Because my brother eventually married her sister,
and Cyndi graduated from college,
found out she had Huntington's Disease,
had a baby,
ran away sometimes,
came back home,
remembered church and friends,
lived in a series of adult foster care homes until
she ended up in Jackson.

And the last nine years of her life she attended
the church that my daddy built,
and that's where they said the final prayers over her today.

So after most had left I walked down into the old basement of that church again,
the old section,
the part that holds up all the new remodeled parts.
And I stood in my old preschool classroom and I looked at those tiny chairs,
and I smelled that good old smell of glue and waxy crayons and faint mildew.

And I had the thought that maybe everything
always, eventually comes back around.

Stick figures dancing,
we pass the time from childhood on.

Our paths criss-crossing,
in pain and in joy,
touching each other sometimes
only so very lightly.

But touching each other just the same.

*

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I miss her too. And I'm angry on her behalf, although I think she was past that by now.

I'm angry at myself for losing touch with her.

And I remember her intense stare...she could look right at you with a smile on her face and not say anything and never feel uncomfortable about it. I remember her encouraging me to stand up to my Dad and her exasperation with me when I wouldn't do it.

Damn that Hungtington's!

Anonymous said...

I was at a band concert tonight and another mom mentioned she had been at a funeral today. I told her I was sorry and then she proceeded to tell the story ... how it was her daughter's friend's biological mom and how her daughter's friend had been adopted by her grandparents and how the friend's biological mom had moved to Jackson and I stopped her mid-sentence to ask if it was Cyndi Higgs?
She then asked how I knew Cyndi and I told her how I had gone to high school with her and how I had her baby shower for Rachel at my house. It was a surreal moment.
I had no idea that Cyndi had passed away, but I never would have imagined that this mom who I barely know would tell me the news.
It really is a small world.

Diane said...

Beautiful words, Heather. I wish I could have been there today with you.

Brian Miller said...

sorry to hear about your loss...sounds like you shared some memories...

Beth said...

I am so sorry for your loss! Those words always sound trite and hollow and not enough to fill the void losing a loved one causes.

She was lucky to be loved by so many. And it was beautiful and haunting how this all weaved back to your early childhood.

TechnoBabe said...

This makes me admire you even more if that is possible. Your friend's life of running away and adjusting to foster homes and you still holding her friendship. We are all so different and yet the same. I am sure you have many more feelings to work through and sounds like you have begun to do just that with the visit to the basement classroom and this photo. Hugs to you and I pray that the peace Cyndi is experiencing now can reach out to you.

Lisa Y. said...

You did an amazing job at the service, Heather. You read her sister's words with such great feeling and expression. I was so very proud of you. I sat there wishing I knew Cynthia more, but I so enjoyed hearing of how her life turned to Christ. Praying for all of you who are hurting and grieving for her. Praying especially for her sweet daughter.

GrandpaC said...

Way to go!
You captured the feelings of many, while sharing the love we all had for Cindy.
Loved the picture too. Brought back many good memories of when you were a teen! I am so lucky!

Dad

mrc-w said...

What a nice tribute, Heather! I really wish I had known Cyndi. She sounds like such a fun person. I feel bad for everyone who knew her and misses her now. And I'm wishing I could give you a hug!! Love you! xo

Elton Higgs said...

Thank you for that memory, Heather. Liann gave us a link for your blog, and I'm glad she did. The comments about Cynthia reinforce what we knew already: that she made a impact on people at all stages of her life.

Elton