To Jane

[Image description: Sun setting over a parking lot, with a small tree in the foreground]

I’ve thought of you more often than usual
these past few days,
most recently in a conversation on race and sexuality
where I shared ideas you taught me.

Later, I walked in the woods feeling
grateful to you for your generous wisdom.
Sad I couldn’t remember the day, I looked it up.
Four years ago this month

it was cold and I was sitting in the car
outside a rundown gymnasium in a nearby town
where one of my kids was
practicing soccer.

First one, then another,
there on social media,
posts saying you were gone.
It was sudden, unexpected.

Folks I only knew online,
sharing about you, who I only knew online,
all connected as participants in a weekly Twitter chat
on queer theology

that taught me not to relinquish
my faith to something smaller,
not to surrender divinity to
those who would diminish it,

not to abandon mystery
to those who want to contain it,
not to resign myself
to traditions that no longer fit.

Your joy and big heart reaching me
all the way from the west coast
and soon we were sharing recipes
and discussing our latest eco-friendly swaps.

I watched the way you interacted
with people who didn’t have your understanding
in a way that made them wish they did,
a kind-hearted, fierce way that taught the rest of us so much.

From you I learned how easy it is to miss
harmful isms and phobias that can pervade
even seemingly good causes when I’m not their target.
And to be always learning, always listening to those who are.

So often I’ve done my best to highlight something problematic
in a way that honors your legacy, saying,
“My friend Jane helped me understand…”
Other times I find myself thinking, “Jane would love this.”

I wish I could send you reusable glass straws
because they are far better than stainless.
I wish I could meet you in person and that all the people
who love you weren’t going into their fifth year without you.

I know I am both a better person for having connected with you
and still have far to go in all the learning you helped inspire me to pursue.
I miss your presence and your friendship, Jane.
And I thank you for your light.


Note: I took the photo above right before I found out about Jane’s passing, and posted it the next day with the following caption: “Sunset last night while I was waiting at soccer, right before I found out my beautiful friend Jane passed away that afternoon. I never had the chance to meet her in person, but she was a wise and loving soul who I admired and learned so much from. I will miss her insight and compassion, and remember her for her fierce devotion to the friends and family she held dear, her passionate care for LGBTQ youth and others from marginalized communities, and her appreciation for the art of cooking. May the many mourning her passing be comforted by the love and light she shared with all of us.

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