where we can’t follow her

by Anna Huckabee Tull

Each month, for the first twelve months after Marie Pechet’s passing, I will carry her Blog forward, sharing about Marie in ways that I hope you will find meaningful, connective, and honoring of our shared friend.

Today marks the one year anniversary of the day my father died.

He died four months before Marie did.

One day, two months after he was gone and two months before she would make her own exit, Marie said to me, “I’ve seen your father. I’ve seen him a number of times.”

This was fascinating and strange to me on a number of levels. For one thing, my dad was not alive. For another, Marie never met my dad. I’m not sure if she had ever even seen a picture of him.

I’m also not sure that matters.

What occurred to me, as she shared this with me, was that it was starting to feel like perhaps Marie’s own time was coming close.

Maybe you can see things that you normally can’t see–be visited by people you normally can’t be visited by–when your own end is drawing near, and when the lines between this world and whatever happens next begin to blur.

I was really happy to know that she had seen my dad, and I told her so. We left it at that.

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cutting free

by Anna Huckabee Tull

Each month, for the first twelve months after Marie Pechet’s passing, I will carry her Blog forward, sharing about Marie in ways that I hope you will find meaningful, connective, and honoring of our shared friend.

One late spring day, years ago, Marie and her (at the time) very young boys came for a screened-porch-picnic at my house. I supplied a meal and, also, my two sons to play with her sons. She surprised me with a gigantic, tissue-popping bag full of super fancy cheeses and multiple boxes of gourmet crackers. Down in the very bottom of the bag was a cutting board, exactly like this:

She explained to me that this was a new invention – a dishwasher-safe wooden cutting board. Hmmm, I thought, and pictured myself happily throwing it into the dishwasher and enjoying the low maintenance aspect of being able to do so.

I have to say, this gift she brought was elaborate. And lovely. Very unexpected. The cheeses were unusual and exotic. The crackers were bursting with fabulous, fibrous seeds. The cutting board was a significant hunk of beautiful striped blonde wood. It felt like she was giving me a piece of furniture!

In sharp contrast to all this, I am one of those people who, when backing out of my driveway en route to a social engagement, will suddenly think, “Oh, crap. I probably should have gotten something for the host.” But by then it’s too late to do much more than just run back to the kitchen in my bare feet, grab a bottle of red wine, and fork it over to the host in the most low key way possible when I arrive at my destination.

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whose love can you feel?

by Anna Huckabee Tull

Each month, for the first twelve months after Marie Pechet’s passing, I will carry her Blog forward, sharing about Marie in ways that I hope you will find meaningful, connective, and honoring of our shared friend.

I was visiting with Marie’s mother-in-law recently. She has become a good friend.

We were looking through pictures on her computer and we stumbled upon this collection of shots of Marie and her family, all from, essentially, the same moment. Not so very long ago.

For me, it was like discovering a little oasis of magic in the middle of my loss of Marie. There she was! Alive. Vibrant. Surrounded on all sides by love. I felt at once relieved and excited to see it.

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Small Miracle

by Anna Huckabee Tull

Each month, for the first twelve months after Marie Pechet’s passing, I will carry her Blog forward, sharing about Marie in ways that I hope you will find meaningful, connective, and honoring of our shared friend.

The other day, something happened to me that was just exactly the kind of small miracle Marie was always pointing out to those of us who lovingly followed her blog. The serendipity of it was amazing. And the really incredible part is, I believe, in its own unique way, that this little bit of wonderment came through Marie. Or at least, most certainly, directly because of her.

The story, like all good stories, has three parts: something wonderful, something hard and overwhelming, and then something wonderful, just in the nick of time!

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Unfinished Business

by Anna Huckabee Tull

Each month, for the first twelve months after Marie Pechet’s passing, I will carry her Blog forward, sharing about Marie in ways that I hope you will find meaningful, connective, and honoring of our shared friend.

Not too long before she died, Marie and I sat on her couch and talked about a hunger she had to explain something to her boys. I listened carefully, and tried to make room for her to fret and stew a little, not because I like to leave people twisting in the wind, but because I believe all of us have within us our own answers, when we are given a loving ear and enough space to feel our way through that which is challenging.

What was challenging that day for Marie was that she was aware she was not always able to present the version of herself she most wanted to, for her family in general, and for her kids in particular. “The truth is, I am in a lot of pain, a lot of the time,” she had said. “It has this strange effect of leaving me feeling distracted, short, rushed. I want so badly to present this calm, centered, very focused version of myself to my kids. But sometimes the way things come out of me is not like that at all. Sometimes, despite my efforts, I show up as someone I’m not proud to be. My tone comes out all wrong. Words fly out of me and they aren’t anything close to the words I wanted to say.”

I know Marie had pain in her body, but sometimes I think the pain in her heart, about discrepancies like this, was the more challenging burden. We brainstormed together and eventually came up with a “script” for what she wanted to say to her boys, when the moment presented itself. She was so excited about the script she asked me if I would write it up and email it to her, which I did.

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My final hours with Marie

by Anna Huckabee Tull

Each month, for the first twelve months after Marie Pechet’s passing, I will carry her Blog forward, sharing about Marie in ways that I hope you will find meaningful, connective, and honoring of our shared friend.

I was lucky enough to be with Marie on what I consider to be her “last good day.” I wasn’t anticipating that it would be the last time I would see her. And I wasn’t in any way anticipating the thing that happened that day when we were together.

I had visited her just a few days earlier, on a Thursday afternoon. She was thin but seemed pretty similar to how she had seemed on my other recent visits. However, on Saturday she summoned me back with no explanation and some urgency – unusual for her.

At her house was her close friend Julie, and Mickey, the cantor she had carefully chosen years before, for singing the Requiem songs for the funeral she knew would one day occur.

She had gathered us together to finalize the plans for it right now. Gulp. Continue reading

Marie’s Funeral (Part 2)

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by Anna Huckabee Tull

Each month, for the first twelve months after Marie Pechet’s passing, I will carry her Blog forward, sharing about Marie in ways that I hope you will find meaningful, connective, and honoring of our shared friend.

Here we are, two months after Marie’s passing, and I find myself looking out at the snow outside my window this evening and remembering what turned out to be my favorite part of her memorial service this past December: the way it ended. So I want to tell you about that.

I shared last month that eight years ago, when she first got her diagnosis, Marie had worked with me to write two songs. The first was From the Inside. It came out as a deep and soulful journey of a song, tracking Marie’s shift from feeling “all alone” to feeling “all one” as she grappled with her diagnosis and, on an even deeper level, her fundamental wellness.

But there was also a second song. It didn’t “show up from out of nowhere” like From the Inside did. It was rather specifically conjured and requested by Marie. “I want something that sounds like me, feels like me, but helps me feel more alive right now,” she had said.

The song The Days of Your Opening practically wrote itself. I came flying over to Marie’s house when it was “hot off the press” to play it for her on my guitar. Her face lit up. She didn’t want to change a word of it. Neither did I.

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